CLEMSON -- Two months from the start of 2017 August camp, Richard Yeargin drove by himself to Greenville for dinner at one of his favorite restaurants.
A leisurely late afternoon on a weekend turned treacherous when a nasty thunderstorm struck. Yeargin rushed to his 2010 Honda Civic and was headed back home to Clemson when his car hydroplaned and flipped.
One minute, Yeargin was excited about being a key part of the defensive end rotation for a program that claimed the national title five months earlier. The next, he was going in and out of consciousness after suffering a neck injury that made football a mere footnote.
Yeargin spent last season in anonymity as the Tigers barreled toward another playoff appearance. He's hoping his long and difficult recovery will end with him making a splash in his final year of college eligibility, but there are no guarantees.
Today, he visits with orthopedic surgeon Larry Bowman to learn if he'll be able to participate in spring practice.
Yeargin recently sat down with Tigerillustrated.com to revisit the accident that completely changed his life. Here is the account, in his words:
I was going to get something to eat in Greenville at a place called Jamaica Mi Irie. I really like Caribbean food, and I had their Curry Goat. That's on Main Street. I was coming back, going on 385 toward Woodruff Road, probably like 5 o'clock in the afternoon. It had been raining that weekend, and there was a thunderstorm. The storm slacked up a little when I was in the restaurant, so I said: "Well, I guess this is my shot. I might as well go for it." I had seen that there had already been a couple of accidents in that area that weekend. There was like a semi-truck wreck that weekend, just a bunch of wrecks and stuff going on. So I was being cautious as I was driving.
On the merging lane they were doing some construction work so they were kind of trying to extend the lane. So the road wasn't as smooth as it needed to be. And with it raining and all that, the road conditions were worse than what they normally would be. I was trying to merge, and a guy wouldn't really let me over. So I kind of stopped and kind of held up in that middle point where you can sort of wait your turn and try to get back on. And then when I went to press the gas, that's when my car hydroplaned.
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