This was becoming a miserable night for Clemson football, and that wasn't just about the unseasonable cold in College Park, Md.
Sammy Watkins, the best freshman wide receiver in the country, was playing for the first time like a freshman. He misjudged the flight of a punt to give Maryland great field position and he ran the wrong route on what should have been a big play for the Tigers.
So Clemson coach Dabo Swinney walked over to Watkins and forcefully reminded, "You owe me one."
Watkins did a whole lot more than that. By game's end, he had returned kickoffs 89 and 70 yards. He finished with a school-record 335 all-purpose yards. And Clemson made up an 18-point deficit to win 56-45.
Watkins is the best pure athlete I've ever covered. He runs faster and jumps higher. Swinney, a former Alabama wide receiver, says Watkins has the strongest fingers he's seen.
But Watkins is much more. He thinks football at such a sophisticated level that he's convinced offensive coordinator Chad Morris to change plays, and it worked.
Best of all, there's a "Yes, sir" humility about the kid that you don't often see in prodigies. I wondered where that came from, and then I interviewed his step-father about the rough neighborhood in Florida where Watkins was raised.
That man on the phone sounded precisely like his step-son: Gracious, polite, dignified - cognizant of how good Watkins is, but never indulgent about it.
Great parenting counts for a lot. Watkins is a shining example.