Clemson Football: Who Belongs on a Clemson Players' Mount Rushmore?
Mt. Rushmore is undoubtedly one of the greatest monuments of the United States, both historically and artistically. The four stone faces carved in the mountain are those of four of our greatest presidents in George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. All of them left their mark in American history, along with lasting legacies as inspirations for the people of the United States.
Pro Football Talk started a mini series on NFL franchises and their potential "Mount Rushmore" figures back in early June. What four notable players or coaches deserved to have their likeness forever carved on the face of their respective franchises' mountains?
So why not pose this question at the collegiate level? What Clemson football greats deserve to have their likeness carved out on an exclusive Clemson player Mt. Rushmore?
The first name that should come to mind when talking about leaving marks on a program would be Banks McFadden. McFadden was one of Clemson's first multi-sport athletes, earning All-American honors in both football and basketball in 1939. As a football player, he did it all, from passing to rushing to punting. He led the Tigers to a 9-1 season and their first-ever bowl bid, which ended in a 6-3 victory in the Cotton Bowl over a Frank Leahy-coached Boston College team.
McFadden also held the single season punting record for 40 years, and his 22 punts of 50 yards or more still stands as a Clemson record. In 1959 he became the first Clemson player to be elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Linebacker Jeff Davis' impact on the program cannot be understated either, and he could be the second addition for a Clemson player Mt. Rushmore. A team captain for four seasons, including Clemson's 1981 national championship season, Davis earned first team All-American honors en route to Clemson's national championship victory while leading the Tigers in tackles. Davis was named the ACC's MVP and Defensive MVP of the Tigers' Orange Bowl win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Davis ranks third all-time in tackles and remains the leader in both forced fumbles and recovered fumbles in Clemson football history. Davis was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 1995 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He continues to be a part of Clemson's football program, working as the associate athletic director for player relations since 2008.
This leaves two remaining spaces and a litany of former Tigers deserving of the honor, including quarterback Steve Fuller, who earned a place in the Clemson Ring of Honor in 1994 and is one of only three Clemson football players to have their jersey retired. He was also named to Clemson's Centennial team in 1996.
Or, you could continue to stay on the defensive side of the ball, where Clemson produced a number of playmakers and game changers. There's defensive back Terry Kinard, who was one of Clemson's all-time greatest players at the cornerback position. Kinard was named to Clemson's Centennial team in 1996, while also being inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Staying in the secondary, Tiger fans are sure to realize that safety Brian Dawkins warrants serious consideration on Clemson's Mt. Rushmore. Dawkins was named starting safety for the Clemson Centennial team in 1996 and was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
He was also the first-time recipient of the Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award established by Clemson University in 2013 to honor a former Clemson player for their performance on the field, leadership and community service.
Dawkins also made his mark on both the collegiate and professional level, playing 16 years in the NFL, 13 with the Philadelphia Eagles and his last three with the Denver Broncos. Dawkins made a name for himself as a hard-hitting safety and helped guide some great NFL defenses. The Eagles retired his No. 20 jersey this past season, placing him among the greatest Eagles of all time.
Known as "The Refrigerator," William Perry made a name for himself as a massive defensive tackle, as his size and strength could not be matched. He is among the top three defensive linemen in Clemson history and one of the school's leaders in sacks.
A three-time All-American and member of the 1981 National Championship team, he would finish his career as the school's all-time sack leader. That is, until his younger brother, Michael Dean Perry, would break those records, including his all-time sack record. The Perry brothers were the most dominant defensive tackles Clemson has ever produced.
Gaines Adams, meanwhile, would become Clemson's best pass-rusher off the edge. He was a unanimous first team All-American in 2006 and also ended his Clemson career tied with Michael Dean Perry for the most sacks in school history. If there was a defensive end who knew how to get to the quarterback, it was Adams.
Tuttle is famous for his game winning catch in the Tigers' 1981 national championship season to lift the Tigers to victory. He holds most of Clemson's receiving records and remains one of the greatest receivers to ever play in Death Valley.
Dantzler was perhaps Clemson's first-ever real dual threat quarterback, becoming the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.
C.J. Spiller ushered in a new era of football players for Clemson.
Spiller did much more than your average running back. He could line up virtually at any receiver position, had great receiving ability and pulled double duty on both kick and punt returns.
In 2009 he was the only player in college football to score at least one touchdown in every game. Like Steve Fuller, he is one of three Clemson players to have their jersey number retired. Spiller is, arguably, the best offensive player in Clemson's history.
Some honorable mentions for Mt. Rushmore included current quarterback Tajh Boyd, who is steadily taking over Clemson's record books heading into his senior season; quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who held most of Clemson's passing records and remains the only quarterback in Clemson history to go 4-0 against the South Carolina Gamecocks; and running back Raymond Priester, one of the all-time leading rushers in Clemson's history.
Of course, special teams were also considered. Punters Chris Gardocki and Dale Hatcher had some of the strongest legs in Death Valley and were able to flip field position like no other.
Who would be on your Clemson player Mt. Rushmore?
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