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Clemson Football Notes Of Interest

Clemson Football Notes Of Interest

Academic All-Americans
Clemson is the only Division school in the nation with two first-team Academic All-Americans. Chad Carson (LB) and Kyle Young (C) were both named to the first team. Carson has a 3.94 career GPA in biological sciences, while Young has a 3.97 in secondary education. Carson, who will start the application process for a Rhodes Scholarship in the spring, led the Tigers in tackles this year with 146. Young was a second-team All-American on the field by Football News, a third-team choice by Sporting News. His grandfather, Ed McClendon, played on Clemson’s 1939 Cotton Bowl team.
Keith Adams
Clemson All-America linebacker Keith Adams has sports in his bloodlines. His father, Julius, played 16 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots. His mother, Pat, was a sprinter on the Texas Southern track team and was at one time an Olympic hopeful. At the age of two, Keith would watch football games with his father. When Julius changed the chanel, Keith would start crying.
Keith Adams, Robert Carswell and Rod Gardner
Clemson All-Americans Robert Carswell and Rod Gardner all live together in an apartment in Clemson. They may need to clear out a room for the hardware they have accumulated this year. Adams was a finalist for the Butkus and Bednarik Awards and was named a first-team All-American by five different services. Gardner was named first-team All-American by the Gannett News Service and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Carswell was named first-team All-ACC for the second straight year and third-team all-American by Sporting News. Gardner and Carswell will play in the Senior Bowl. Adams has another year of eligibility.
Robert Carswell
All-America safety Robert Carswell spent his elementary years in Gary, IN, and he grew up a Notre Dame football fan. His family moved to Lithonia, GA, so Clemson entered into the picture. He narrowed his college decision to Notre Dame and Clemson and he brought a letter of intent from each school to his college announcement. He picked the Tigers that February day in 1997 so his parents could see him play. He has gone on to become a two-time first-team All-ACC selection, a third-team All-American and Clemson’s career tackle leader among defensive backs. He was named to the 1999 AFCA Goodworks Team for his community service activities.
Darrel Crutchfield
Clemson has two comeback stories this year and both players are from Florida. Darrel Crutchfield tore an ACL in the Florida State game of 1999, but came back to start in a nine of the 11 games and he led the team in pass deflections with eight. Theo Mougros started every game at offensive guard this year and was a second-team All-ACC selection by The Sporting News. He torn an ACL in the Mississippi State game in the Peach Bowl last year, went through rehabilitation in the spring and summer and was ready to go in August.
Woodrow Dantzler
Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler is a marketing major who needs to pass just two classes in the spring semester to earn his undergraduate degree. He plans to play for the 2001 Tigers as a graduate student. Dantzler is interested in the marketing field and is a member of the Clemson University sports marketing club. As part of the club activities, Dantzler comes to Death Valley each Sunday morning after a home game and helps clean the executive suites in Death Valley. So, when someone makes the comment that “Dantzler did everything today but clean the stadium”, they are wrong.
Degrees In Hand
Clemson will have eight players on its roster with degrees when the Tigers begin play against Virginia Tech in the Toyota Gator Bowl. Theo Mougros, John McDermott and Terry Witherspoon all had their undergrad degrees before this year began. On December 21, Justin Watts, Will Merritt, Freddie James, Gary Childress and Matt Bailey all received their degrees.
Nick Eason
Starting defensive end Nick Eason, Clemson’s leader in sacks this year, is an active member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He traveled to Spain with an FCA group last March and met with youth groups, teaching them about sports in the United States. He worked out with the University of Malaga Rugby team during that visit, a rigorous activity according to Eason. A sophomore who plans to graduate this coming August, Eason can play the piano and the guitar by ear. He eventually hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Clemson football players Billy Davis and Andye McCrorey and work in federal law enforcement.
Rod Gardner
It took a while, but Rod Gardner finally found a home at wide receiver. Gardner was a high school quarterback, then started his Clemson career in the secondary. In the spring of 1997 he was slotted behind Antwan Edwards at safety. Edwards, a first-round draft pick, is now playing for the Green Bay Packers. But, prior to the 1997 season, Gardner was moved to wide receiver by then head coach Tommy West. Four years later he needs just four receptions in the Toyota Gator Bowl to become Clemson’s career leader. Ironically, Gardner will have the opportunity to break that record in his hometown. Gardner went to Raines High School in Jacksonville, FL.
Jason Holloman
Clemson defensive tackle Jason Holloman has a lot of school spirit. The fifth-year senior actually rooms with the Clemson Tiger mascot, fellow senior Jon Potter. Potter is in just about as good a shape as Holloman. After each Clemson score the Tiger mascot does pushups that equal Clemson’s new point total. Clemson set school scoring records this year for total points and total touchdowns. Holloman, who will graduate in the spring, is an avid NASCAR fan who has attended the Daytona 500. Jeff Gordon is his favorite racer.
Freddie James
Defensive tackle Freddie James received his chemical engineering degree from Clemson in December. He will be honored for his academic accomplishments by the Toyota Gator Bowl at bowl’s awards banquet. James, a cousin of Notre Dame defensive tackle Lance LeGree (they both wear #90) has already accepted a job with the 3M Corporation in Minneapolis and will begin his engineering career a couple weeks after the Gator Bowl.
John McDermott
John McDermott, who started eight of Clemson’s 11 games at offensive tackle, is one of the eight current Clemson players with an undergrad degree. McDermott was home schooled by his mother as a youngster and only played seven games of high school football in his career. A native of Woodstock, GA, his favorite hobby is wood carving. He plans to work with the Clemson area Habitat for Humanities chapter this spring. Ironically, the man who played just seven games of high school football, holds the Clemson single season record for plays of participation. He played 923 snaps in 1999, more than any other Tiger, offense or defense, in history.
Will Merritt
Offensive guard Will Merritt is from a true Clemson family. His mother was named Clemson Mother of the Year for 2000, an honor presented at the homecoming game by Tiger Brotherhood. His father, brother and sister also graduated from Clemson, as did brother in law Matt Reeves, a member of the Clemson football team from 1992-96. He recently became engaged to a young lady named Melissa Atkins, whose family has been lifelong South Carolina fans. Apparently Will has converted the Atkins family, as they have been seen wearing orange to Tiger football games this year.
Politically Correct Team
You could say Clemson is the most politically correct team in the nation because it is the only Division I school with a Bush and a Gore on its roster. Jovon Bush is a reserve defensive tackle, while Buddy Gore is a reserve kicker. Both were featured by Associated Press and CNN in the weeks leading up to and following the election.
Jamie Somaini
How much did walk-on punter Jamie Somaini want to be a member of the Clemson football team? In 1996, he began seeking a meeting with then Tiger head coach Tommy West. After two days of failing to make connections, he arrived outside his corner office at 6:00 AM and waited until he arrived. West was impressed with his desire and gave him an opportunity. Now he is Clemson’s starting punter. His 75-yard punt at Florida State this year was the longest by a Tiger in 10 seasons. He averaged 50.3 yards a boot at Virginia, the first Tiger since Chris Gardocki (1990) to average 50 yards a punt in a game.
T.J. Watkins
Starting offensive tackle T.J. Watkins is the son of Eddie Watkins, who was one of the offensive linemen who played opposite Burt Reynolds in the movie “The Longest Yard.” It was Watkins, playing in just his third game as starting offensive lineman who had the assignment dealing with Virginia Tech All-American Corey Moore last year in the Hokies victory. Watkins has shown considerable improvement since the last meeting between the Hokies and Tigers. Moore has graduated to the NFL.
Justin Watts
Wide receiver Justin Watts earned his fifth letter for the Clemson program this year, the first Tiger football player since Stumpy Banks (1915-19) to receive five varsity letters. Watts played in three games before being injured in the 1997 season and thus lettered even though he received an injury red-shirt year. Watts has overcome six knee injuries to play five years and 47 games for the Tigers.
Terry Witherspoon
Terry Witherspoon, Clemson’s number-one fullback the last four years, earned his degree last August. He had entered Clemson as a partial qualifier out of high school, but earned his fourth year of eligibility when he graduated in August. Twenty-six family and friends came to Clemson from Monroe, NC to celebrate his graduation.