In the third and final installment of my choices for Clemson's all-time football team, I present my case for the special teams unit and honorable mentions. I've picked 10 worthy candidates for honorable mention to join the all time special teams unit.
In case you missed them, you can find my offensive and defensive selections here:
Now for the special teams selections.
Punter: Chris Gardocki
In complete objectivity, Chris Gardocki should get the nod for both punter and place kicker. He was selected as an All-American for both and became the second player in NCAA history to rank in the top five for both punting and place kicking in the same season.
Amazingly, Gardocki never missed a PAT at Clemson, connecting on 72 straight.
Place Kicker: Obed Ariri
Ten years before Chris Gardocki, Obed Ariri reigned as Clemson's dominant kicker. When he graduated from Clemson, he held the all time NCAA record for career field goals at 63. As a two sport athlete, Ariri's soccer legs translated to tremendous field goals time and time again.
Punt Returner: Derrick Hamilton
Derrick Hamilton was an all-purpose beast for Clemson in his day. His kick and punt returning was excellent, but he didn't stop there. He held the Clemson career all-purpose yards record when he graduated.
He also excelled as a receiver and running back.
Kick Returner: Justin Miller
Over the course of his career, Justin Miller averaged 30.7 yards per kickoff return and amassed over 1,500 kick return yards. He was also an exceptional cornerback, but it was his kick returning that won him All-American honors in 2004.
1. Rod Gardner (WR)
Rod will always be remembered at Clemson for his game winning push-off heroics against South Carolina, but he should be defined by much more than that.
He had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons at Clemson and remains second in career receptions in Clemson history.
2. Donald Igwebuike (PK)
You may get dizzy trying to say his name three times fast, but Igwebuike had a golden leg. Like Ariri, he split time as a soccer player and had a penchant for nailing those field goals of 50-plus yards that seem so tricky for most.
3. Jim Stuckey (DT)
Stuckey never really had a chance to make the starting defense with the Perry brothers in front of him, but Stuckey was no pushover. He recorded an impressive 314 tackles and 18 sacks in his career.
4. Leroy Hill (LB)
In 2003, Hill put up 27 tackles for a loss and followed it up the next season with five consecutive games with at least one sack. He was awarded All-American honors for his work in 2004.
5. C.J. Spiller (RB, PR/KR)
It may very well have been wrong to leave C.J. Spiller off the starting lineups, but I felt he should finish his career before he receives such distinction.
What can't be disputed is Spiller's position among the all time great offensive weapons in Clemson history. Spiller already holds the Clemson all-purpose yardage record and will likely soon take possession of the ACC record.
6. Aaron Kelly (WR)
Kelly never struck you as the ultimate receiving threat as he went about his business quietly. What he may have lacked in talent, he more than made up for in hard work and brains.
Kelly holds the Clemson career receptions record.
7. Stacy Seegars (G)
Seegars was a two time All-ACC guard, as well as a two time All-American. He averaged five knockdown blocks per game during his Clemson career.
8. Woody Dantzler (QB)
It can be argued that Dantzler was the first great modern hybrid QB. In 2001, Dantzler became the first player in NCAA history to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000.
Many Clemson games were won early this decade on the shoulders of Woody Dantzler.
9. John Phillips (G)
Phillips captured All-ACC and All-American honors in consecutive seasons, as well gaining entrance into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1999.
10. O.K. Pressley (C)
Although possibly not the most talented center in Clemson history, or even in the top 50 Clemson players of all time, O.K. Pressley was the first player in Clemson history to receive All-American honors and for that, he gets my final honorable mention.