Oct. 20, 2006
By Brittney Earle
True athletes share a passion for the game, a commitment to success, and lessons to last a lifetime. Brandon Cannon, a Clemson defensive end, not only exhibits these aspects on the field, but he also shows these qualities off the field. He is a loving husband, a proud father, and an overall good character and role model to the Tiger football family.
Growing up, Cannon was very family-oriented. He grew up with his mother, father, and two brothers in Cleveland, OH. His father worked various part-time jobs to take care of his family. “It was pretty rough where I grew up in Cleveland, but my dad would always do anything to take care of us,” stated Cannon. “I have always looked up to him for that.”
At the age of 11, he and his family moved to Atlanta. “It was a hard transition to move from the north to south. People talked different, and I had to make new friends. But after living in the south, I’ve grown to like it, especially the warm weather.”
Before his move, he was never seriously interested in the sport of football. In middle school, coaches would beg him to play until he finally said “yes.” He became a natural talent when he started playing in middle school.
Building a strong foundation for success, both on and off the field, was not an unfamiliar saying to Cannon at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, GA. He fell in love with football during his years there. Stephenson High is known for its excellent football program, having the most Division I signees in Georgia after Cannon’s senior season.
As a Jaguar, Cannon grew into a developed football player. He started for four years at Stephenson High School. Cannon was selected all-county both his junior and senior seasons. He was an honorable mention all-state selection with nine sacks his senior year while playing on both sides of the ball. He was also named team captain.
With his dedication and leadership, Cannon helped lead his high school to a 10-3 record and to the third round of the state playoffs. He then played in the Tennessee-Georgia All-Star game after his senior year.
Cannon was a four-star prospect by Rivals100.com and TheInsiders.com. He was rated as the 27th-best defensive end in the nation by TheInsiders.com, and ninth-best weakside defensive end by Rivals100.com. Along with his football accolades, Cannon was also a track standout.
During his senior year, he had many tough decisions to make in choosing between schools such as Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio State. Many of his teammates at Stephenson High chose to stay in the state of Georgia, including Reggie Ball, who will be the starting quarterback for Georgia Tech tonight.
“I was originally committed to Maryland, but after my visit to Clemson, I decided to become a Tiger,” said #95. “Clemson was my last visit, and I fell in love with the school and atmosphere. It was also close to my family.”
He red-shirted in 2002, transitioning from a high school football atmosphere to a collegiate one. His freshman year, he made lasting friendships with his roommates Gaines Adams and Donnell Clark.
“We always found ways to have fun,” he laughed.
One of his most memorable moments was running down the Hill for the first time. “It’s a feeling like no other to run down the Hill in front of thousands of screaming fans,” he said. “Our fans are so alive and supportive of the program.”
During his freshman and sophomore seasons, he learned from fellow defensive ends. Then he showed great improvement his junior year. He had his breakout game against Florida State in 2005.
At the time, Florida State was ranked #16 in the nation. In the game, he had three tackles in just eight plays. This was the best on a per-play basis by a Tiger all year.
Cannon is coming into his element this year. Against Wake Forest two weeks ago, he forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter that led to the tying touchdown. Classmate Donnell Clark (also on the cover of today’s program) recovered it. Much has been made of the talented young players on Clemson’s defensive line, but those two seniors made a huge play in the Tigers’ comeback win in Winston-Salem.
Five days later against Temple, he had his second career multi-sack game. He led the team with two sacks in 29 snaps, the most by a Tiger defensive lineman.
Cannon always calls his parents after every game, and that was an enjoyable phone call after the victory at Wake Forest. He has been a big factor in the success of this year’s senior class, a group that already has 29 wins in the last four years, including eight against ranked opponents.
There is a strong family bond to this year’s senior class, something Cannon can relate to. He is known as a family man with a big heart. He lives with wife Tamaqua, his high school sweatheart, and son Deyon. After the birth of his son, Cannon became more focused on school. He has a drive to succeed in life because of his family. Tamaqua and Deyon come to all the games to support Cannon.
“If I’m half the man my father was to me, then I would be a good father to Deyon,” said Cannon.
Cannon’s father drives a truck across the country and makes it home on the weekends to attend his football games. He instills today the same parenting values that his father displays.
Cannon, one of three graduates on the 2006 team, received his management degree in May. He hopes to play professional football, but if that does not work out, he wants to get an entry-level management position, or go into commercial real estate.
Cannon has a passion for the game, a drive to succeed, and the ability to do great things for the Tigers this season. He has applied what he has learned on the field to everyday life. Over the years, Cannon has shown that he is a true athlete, not only by his determination and leadership on the field, but by his character off the field.
Brittney Earle, a freshman from Easley, SC, is a student assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Office.
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