College football: Fans welcome Troy players home after Clemson game
Perhaps wiping sleep from his eyes and groggily stepping off the bus, Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers was hit with a big surprise.
Why are all these people screaming?
The Trojans found an unexpected welcome party when they arrived home last weekend following their 30-24 loss at No. 2 Clemson.
About 400 students, according to a school estimate, were waiting to cheer them.
"It was nuts," Silvers said. "It was great to see."
The Trojans (1-1), who play at Southern Miss on Saturday, had no indication they were about to receive a "welcome party" until they were just a few miles away.
Running back Josh Anderson said word went out on his bus just as it reached the city. Others -- the team uses a four-bus caravan -- may have been caught by surprise.
"It made us feel good knowing that the fans really cared so they wait for us to come back," junior safety Kris Weatherspoon said. "We really appreciate that."
The Trojans came within six points of one of the top college powers and "really put Troy on the map," coach Neal Brown said.
"I thought it was really good for our guys to see the support," offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said. "I think they have earned that. It would have been nice if we had won. Maybe the whole town would have been here."
Brown said he hoped it was a sign of added enthusiasm among the entire student body, something he said he has stressed with his players.
The Trojans have reached out to groups on campus. The team and the school's band even attended one of the other's preseason practices.
Brown, on his own dime, has doled out Troy T-shirts when he sees someone wearing another school's on campus. He hasn't given out as many gifts lately, which he takes as a positive sign.
"It's crucial for our guys to be on campus and to build relationships," Brown said. "I know it's something our kids took a lot of pride in."
Of course, last weekend's display was also due to how well Troy played at Clemson. The Tigers needed 17 fourth-quarter points to hold off the Trojans.
"I've never seen that, getting off the bus and having the fans there waiting," Anderson said. "That says a lot about the support we have for our football team."
The Trojans are unlikely to fetch such a welcome this weekend -- and it won't be because of the score.
Saturday's game at Southern Miss kicks off at 6 p.m., so the team won't arrive home until the pre-dawn hours of Sunday. But it could pay off the next weekend when the Trojans host New Mexico State.
"You have to play good," Silvers said. "That's on us. If we start winning, they are going to start coming."
This article was written by A. Stacy Long from The Montgomery Advertiser and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.