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1953 and 1978 Teams To Be Honored Saturday Clemson will honor its 50-year and 25-year anniversary teams this weekend prior to the Middle Tennessee game at Death Valley. Both teams will be introduced prior to the game and will run down the hill.
Clemson’s 1953 team will celebrate its 50th anniversary. That was the first year of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Among the Tigers who are expected to return is Dreher Gaskins, who was Clemson’s first first-team All-ACC athlete in any sport. The 1978 team finished the year with an 11-1 record, ranked sixth in the nation and won the Gator Bowl with a 17-15 win over Woody Hayes.
The 1939 and 1948 teams will also be back on campus for their annual reunion this weekend. The 1939 team was Clemson’s first bowl team and had a 9-1 record, including a 6-3 win over Frank Leahy’s Boston College Eagles. The 1948 team had a perfect 11-0 record, including a 24-23 win over Missouri in the Gator Bowl.
Clemson Faces New Team This will be the first time Clemson has faced Middle Tennessee on the football field. The Blue Raiders are the 90th different opponent Clemson has faced on the gridiron, the 53rd different team currently playing Division I football.
The Blue Raiders will be the 44th different team to play Clemson in Death Valley, a facility that opened in 1942. Clemson is 31-11-1 vs. an opponent making its first appearance in Death Valley, a .733 winning percentage. Only two teams have won their first game in Death Valley since 1976. Notre Dame and quarterback Joe Montana did it in 1977 with a 21-17 victory on the way to winning the National Championship, and Marshall, led by current New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, accomplished the feat in 1999 by a 13-10 score. That Marshall team ended the season 13-0 and ranked 10th in the nation. That was Tommy Bowden’s first game as Clemson coach.
This will be the first time Clemson has faced a team from the Sun Belt Conference. Utah State is in its first year in the league in football and is scheduled to come to Clemson next year on October 16.
Clemson and Middle Tennessee Coaches Worked TogetherWhile Clemson and Middle Tennessee have never faced each other on the gridiron, there is some familiarity in regards to the coaching staffs.
Middle Tennessee head coach Andy McCollum was at Baylor from 1993-98. He was on the same Baylor staff with Clemson offensive line coach Ron West from 1993-96. Robb Rogers, Middle Tennessee’s strength coach, was also on that Baylor staff during that time period. Baylor was Co-Champion of the Southwest Conference in 1994.
Steve Davis, the current defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee, coached at two different schools with Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden’s. Both served on Auburn’s 1994 staff under Terry Bowden. Tommy Bowden’s was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, while Davis was the secondary coach. The Auburn Tigers finished 9-1-1 that season.
When Tommy Bowden’s became head coach at Tulane in 1997, he hired Davis as his defensive coordinator. Davis held that position for two years under Bowden, helping the Green Wave to a 19-4 record in those two seasons, including a 12-0 mark in 1998.
Middle Tennessee Update Middle Tennessee State enters Saturday’s game with a 0-2 record. But, Clemson fans and players need only look at the score and the statistics from the Middle Tennessee vs. Georgia game of last week to be impressed. Playing at home, Georgia struggled to put the Blue Raiders away in front of 92,000 Bulldog fans at Sanford Stadium, 29-10.
Middle Tennessee has an impressive group of athletes led by quarterback Andrico Hines, a senior from Riverdale, GA. So far this year Hines has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception in 59 attempts. Hines is also effect as a rusher with 55 yards in the two games.
The junior college transfer started 10 games at quarterback in 2002 and played well against some top flight competition. In a narrow (39-34) loss to Alabama, Hines completed 16-24 passes for 165 yards and also ran for 49 yards. For the season he completed 58 percent of his passes for 1753 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 203 yards per game in total offense for the season.
Kerry Wright is Hines’s favorite receiver. The red-shirt junior is 25th in the nation in receptions per game with a 6.5 figure, the same ranking as Clemson’s Kevin Youngblood. Wright entered this year with just 18 career receptions, so he could eclipse that total Saturday in just the third game of the year. He has experience as a return man also.
Brandon Lynch, a senior from Hephzibah, GA, is a player to watch on defense for Middle Tennessee. The safety had 75 tackles last year to rank fourth on the team, and he is on his way to eclipsing that figure this year. He already has 20 tackles in 2003, plus an interception and a fumble recovery for two takeaways. He is a big reason Middle Tennessee is 15th in the nation in turnover margin. He had eight tackles at Alabama and had a sack and a fumble recovery at Tennessee in 2002.
Jonathan Bonner is a young linebacker who Tiger offensive coaches will have to be aware of on Saturday. He is second on the team in tackles with 14 and has a pair of sacks. He had just four tackles last year as a freshman, but has made considerable improvement over the last year. He was a two-time All-State selection in Alabama during his high school career.Facts on Blue Raider Football*Middle Tennessee’s most famous alum in the NFL is Kelly Holcomb, the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and a teammate of former Clemson All-America punter Chris Gardocki. *Saturday’s game is the second of three straight road games against teams from the SEC, ACC and Big 12 for Middle Tennessee. On October 4, Big East member Temple travels to the home of the Blue Raiders. *Middle Tennessee is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. They joined the league in football in 2001 and promptly tied for the conference championship in that first year with a 5-1 conference record an 8-3 overall record. *Middle Tennessee joined Division I-A in 1999. It took the program just two years to defeat a team from the SEC, as the Blue Raiders defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville by a 37-28 score in the season opener. *On October 6, 2001, Middle Tennessee and Idaho played the highest scoring game in Division I history when the Blue Raiders gained a 70-58 victory. The two teams combined for 128 points, 1445 yards of total offense, 18 touchdowns and 67 first downs. *In the opening game of the 1967 season, Middle Tennessee played Navy Pensacola, a team of former college all-stars. That team was led by 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, who was fulfilling his four-year military commitment before he joined the Dallas Cowboys. Middle Tennessee held Staubach to 16-45 passing for 137 yards and came away with a 28-7 victory.
Whitehurst Goes over 300 yardsClemson sophomore quarterback Charlie Whitehurst completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson’s win over Furman last Saturday. It was quite a performance for Whitehurst, who was making just his seventh start at quarterback for the Tigers. The 301 yards were the most ever by a Clemson quarterback against Furman.
The 301-yard figure ranks as just the eighth 300-yard passing game in Clemson history for an individual, the second by Whitehurst. He actually holds the Clemson record with 420 passing yards at Duke last year in a 34-31 Clemson victory. He now joins Brandon Streeter as the only quarterbacks in Clemson history with more than one 300-yard passing game. Streeter, now an assistant coach at Charleston Southern, had three during his career from 1997-99.
Whitehurst now has a career passing efficiency rating of 128.44, fourth best in Clemson history. He entered the Furman game ranked 11th, but his performance against the Paladins moved him up seven spots. He now ranks behind just Woody Dantzler (132.46), Mark Fellers (131.30) and Chris Morocco (130.44) on the Clemson career list.
Whitehurst went over the 2000-yard passing in the win over Furman and enters the Middle Tennessee game with 2006. He is also first in Clemson history in career completion percentage (59.35) and is third in interception avoidance. Just 2.88 percent of his pass attempts have been intercepted.
Quarterbacks Have Flourished under BowdenWatching Charlie Whitehurst move up the Clemson career passing efficiency charts should be of no surprise. Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden’s has a history of developing outstanding quarterbacks since he became a head coach in 1997.
In his two years at Tulane, he guided Shawn King to many school and national records. In fact, in 1998, King led the nation with a passing efficiency rating of 183.3. That year he completed 223-328 passes for 3232 yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. That 183.3 rating remains the all-time NCAA record for passing efficiency rating over the course of a season.
One of the players Bowden recruited before he left Tulane was current Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey played at Tulane through the 2001 season and is now the starting signal caller for the Washington Redskins. Ironically, one of his top receivers is former Tiger Rod Gardner. Ramsey was 17-23 for 185 yards in the Redskins season opening victory over the New York Jets.
Since Bowden has been at Clemson, 54 Clemson passing records have been set or tied. Brandon Streeter set the Clemson single season completion percentage in 1999 when he connected on 63.1 percent of his passes. Whitehurst is currently ahead of that pace at 65.6 percent for the season. In 2001, Woodrow Dantzler became the first player in college football history to pass for 2000 yards and rush for 1000 in the same season.
Youngblood Ties Career HighKevin Youngblood tied a career high with 10 catches against Furman. He had 10 catches against Louisiana Tech last year for 89 yards. Ironically, that was also the second game of the season. He is now third in the ACC and 25th in the nation in receptions per game with 13 in the two games.
Youngblood’s 10 receptions were the most ever by a Clemson player against Furman. He now joins Rod Gardner (3), Perry Tuttle (2), Tony Horne (2) and J.J. McKelvey (2) as the only players in Clemson history to have two or more double figure reception games. Youngblood’s 10 catches were just one off the single game record of 11 set by Rod Gardner vs. Marshall in 1999 and Phil Rogers vs. North Carolina in 1965. Clemson lost both of those games, so Youngblood’s performance tied the mark for receptions in a Clemson victory.
Youngblood has now caught at least one pass in 17 consecutive games dating back to the 2000 season. He won’t set that record as Jerry Butler holds the mark with 36 in a row, including every game he played over his last three seasons. Youngblood has had at least 100 yards in two of the last three games, as he had 7-134 in the Tangerine Bowl. The graduate student now has 85 career receptions, 14th on the Clemson career list. He has 124 receiving yards for the year and 940 for his career. Thus he needs just 60 yards to become the 20th player in Clemson history to reach 1000 receiving yards in a career.
Walker Leads Offensive LineClemson’s offensive line has been led by graduate student Gregory Walker. The starting right tackle had one of his best games as a Clemson Tiger in the win over Furman when he graded 93 percent from the offensive line coaches for his 67 plays. He had 12.5 knockdown blocks in the game six more than any other Clemson player. He also had two intimidation blocks and graded 99 percent in terms of effort grade. He was named the Clemson offensive player of the week by the Tiger coaching staff for the Furman game.
Walker is in his second year as a starter. He has started 15 consecutive games entering the Middle Tennessee game. Last year he led the team in intimidation blocks with 24 and was second to Gary Byrd in knockdown blocks with 93. He led the team in film grade from the coaches seven times, more than any other Tiger offensive lineman. The native of Sumter leads the team in knockdown blocks this year through two games with 17.5.Hill Leads ACC in Tackles for LossThe early season favorite for most improved player on the Clemson football team would be junior linebacker LeRoy Hill. The native of Haddock, GA leads the ACC in tackles for loss with six and is among the league leaders in total tackles with 29 through just two games. He had 29 tackles all of last year in 13 games, now has reached that total in just two games in 2003. Hill played in all 13 games last year, all in reserve. He was the top special teams tackler on the squad with 21, but played just 47 snaps from scrimmage at linebacker. He spent the 2002 season as a backup behind Eric Sampson. He has moved to middle linebacker and has flourished. He had just one tackle or loss last year and now has six this year. He has 12 more tackles than any other Clemson player and has averaged a tackle every 3.58 plays.
Dean Contributing on Special TeamsClemson has played three first-year freshmen in each of the first two games. Brandon Pilgrim have both played on the offensive line in each game. Jad Dean has handled the kickoffs for the Tigers.
Clemson leads the ACC in kickoff return defense, allowing just 25 total kickoff return yards in two attempts. Dean has had a lot to do with that. In six kickoffs he has had four touchbacks. Only once has the opposition returned a kickoff past the Clemson 20. Last year Clemson had just nine touchbacks all year on 67 kickoffs, so Dean is already half way to the total for the entire 13 games of 2002.Howard Scores TouchdownJ.J. Howard was a key reserve on three Clemson bowl teams from 2000-02. But, in his 15 plays per game, he usually came through with a big play. Regarded as one of the top athletes on the team, he is the first football player in school history to bench press 450 pounds, vertical jump 44 inches and run a sup 4.5 time in the 40 yard run.
Howard is now a starter in his final season, and the big plays have continued. He had the ultimate big play in the win over Furman when he picked up a fumble and raced 17 yards for a touchdown. It was the first takeaway (fumble or interception) of his Clemson career and it was the first touchdown by a Clemson defensive player since last year’s Georgia game when Bryant McNeal raced 55 yards for a score after a Bulldog fumble.
Howard had five total tackles, the fumble recovery and a seven-yard sack and was named the top defensive player by the Clemson coaches for the performance against the Paladins. For the first two games he has eight tackles and three quarterback pressures.
Clemson Defense Holds Furman under 200 YardsClemson’s defense held Furman to 174 yards of total offense in the Tigers 28-17 victory. It was the best total defense performance by the Tigers since Clemson allowed just 159 yards in a victory over Wake Forest in the 2000 season. Furman gained less than 100 yards rushing and less than 100 yards passing in last Saturday’s game. That was the first time Clemson held an opponent under 100 yards in both areas since the 2000 Citadel game. The Citadel had just 57 yards rushing and 48 passing in that game that was the opener of the 2000 season. Last Saturday’s game was just the sixth time in the last 10 years that Clemson has held the opposition to under 100 yards rushing and under 100 yards passing in the same game.
Leading the way defensively in terms of tackles for the second straight week was junior linebacker LeRoy Hill, who had 13 total tackles. Twelve of the tackles were first hits. For the second straight week, the native of Georgia had three tackles for loss. John Leake added 10 tackles in his 50 plays, while Travis Pugh and Jamaal Fudge added seven tackles apiece. Clemson’s defense collected 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. Clemson had four sacks in the season opener with Georgia.
Henry Catches Pass, Leads to TouchdownWilliam Henry, and Curtis Baham each made their first career receptions in the victory over Furman on September 6. Baham, a sophomore from Louisiana, is a receiver, so no surprise there. But, Henry is an offensive tackle. He caught a deflected pass, ran five yards, fumbled, then Duane Coleman recovered and ran the final nine yards for a touchdown.
Henry was the first Clemson offensive lineman to catch a pass since Will Merritt did it against Marshall in 1999, the first game of the Tommy Bowden’s era. He was just nine yards from becoming the first Tiger offensive lineman to score a touchdown since the 1966 South Carolina game. That year Harry Olszewski scored when he recovered a fumble snap on the center-quarterback exchange, caught the ball and rambled 12 yards for a score.
In case you are wondering how that play was scored statistically…Henry was credited with a reception for five yards. Coleman was credited with nine reception yards and a reception touchdown, but no reception. Confused! Charlie Whitehurst was credited with 14 yards passing and touchdown pass. The reason Coleman does not get a catch is because you can’t credit two receptions on the same play. The catch always goes to the first receiver in a fumble situation.
19 Tigers on NFL Rosters Clemson has 19 former players on NFL rosters, including three injured reserve players, according to rosters released by NFL clubs on September 1.
The list of active players includes rookie Bryant McNeal with the Denver Broncos, who was a starter for Clemson just last season. Nick Eason, who was drafted in the fourth round along with McNeal, is on injured reserve due to an Achilles tendon problem. Gary Byrd, a senior in 2002, is also on injured reserve, with the Buffalo Bills. Corey Hulsey (Oakland Raiders) is a third former Tiger on injured reserve.
The list of veterans includes Chris Gardocki, who is in his 13th year in the NFL as a punter. The former pro bowl punter is with the Cleveland Browns. Gardocki holds the career punting average record for both the Browns (44.1) and the Indianapolis Colts (44.8). Chester McGlockton (New York Jets), James Trapp (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Brentson Buckner (Carolina Panthers) are three other former Tigers who are in double figures in years of experience in the NFL. Trapp, who is a member of the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame for his track accomplishments, is in his 11th year in the league, his first with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a member of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl Championship team two years back. Keith Adams, Rod Gardner, Woody Dantzler, and McNeal are four former Tigers who played for current coach Tommy Bowden’s who are on NFL rosters. Dantzler was cut by Dallas, but picked up by Atlanta in the first week of the season.
Former Clemson Players on NFL Rosters
# Injured Reserve; @ Practice Squad
Currie Establishes Career High Throughout the preseason, Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden’s commented on the improvement Airese Currie had made as a receiver. He proved Bowden to be correct in the opener against Georgia when he caught a career high seven passes for 56 yards. His previous career high was five catches for 59 yards against North Carolina in 2001.
Currie had five catches in the first half, so he actually reached his career high mark in the first half alone. He added one catch for a 72 yard touchdown in the win over Furman so he now has eight catches for a team best 128 yards for the year, a 16.0 average per catch. He is ranked sixth in the ACC in reception yards per game. He has three career receptions of 70 yards or more, one each season he has played. His 83-yard touchdown catch from Whitehurst at North Carolina last year is the longest pass play in the history of Kenan Stadium.
Currie entered this season with a 17.7 yards per reception yardage for his career, fifth best in school history. The native of Columbia now has 42 career receptions for 730 yards, a 17.4 average.
Clemson vs. Georgia Review Georgia took advantage of three Clemson turnovers and went on to a 30-0 victory at Death Valley in the 2003 season opener. The game was played in front of 83,000 fans at Memorial Stadium, the largest home opening crowd in Clemson history. It was the first time Clemson had been shutout since the 1998 season at Florida State and the first time Clemson was shutout at home since the 1998 Virginia Tech game.
Georgia scored on its first possession on a 56-yard touchdown pass from David Greene to Fred Gibson. The Bulldogs scored on their second possession on a field goal that had been set up by Clemson fumble when Tiger center Tommy Sharpe became sick while centering the ball. Georgia scored another field goal that was set up by a Charlie Whitehurst.
Clemson drove to the Georgia four-yard-line as Whitehurst completed 4-4 passes for 41 yards. But, a fourth-down-and-two pass attempt by tailback Duane Coleman that was intended for Whitehurst was broken up by the Bulldogs. That could have brought the score to 13-7 at halftime.
Georgia added a field goal in the third period and held a 16-0 lead heading into the final period. Clemson drove to the Georgia three early in the fourth period, but the drive stalled and David Pollock picked off a Whitehurst pass to keep Clemson off the scoreboard. The Bulldogs added two touchdowns in the last six minutes to put the game away.
Clemson was held to 35 yards rushing on 24 attempts, the second lowest total by the Tigers on the ground under Tommy Bowden’s. The Tigers had 199 yards total offense, also a low under Bowden and fewest by a Clemson team since the 1998 Florida State game. Duane Coleman led the Tigers in rushing with 12-29.
Charlie Whitehurst connected on 15 of his first 17 passes and ended the game 19-33 for 151 yards. Airese Currie was the top receiver with 7-56, while Derrick Hamilton added 5-46, all in the first half. Georgia was led by David Greene, who hit on 12-17 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. Fred Gibson ended the game with 4-104 receiving, the only player in the game to have a 100-yard receiving or rushing game.
LeRoy Hill led Clemson defensively with 16 tackles, double any other Clemson player. He also had three tackles for loss in the finest all-around game as a Clemson player. Eric Sampson added eight tackles, while Khaleed Vaughn, Travis Pugh and John Leake had seven tackles apiece. Clemson’s defense did not force a turnover for just the second time in the last 14 games, but did record three sacks.Hamilton Now Fourth in All-Purpose Running Clemson junior wide receiver Derrick Hamilton had 154 all-purpose running yards against Furman and moved into third place on the Clemson all-time list. He moved ahead of Buddy Gore in the Furman game. He entered this season in sixth place on the list. He will remain in third place for a while, as Raymond Priester is next on the list at 4282 yards, ahead of Hamilton’s 3323 total.
He now has 246 yards rushing, 1392 receiving, 1277 on kickoff returns and 408 on punt returns for his Clemson career. The all-purpose running record is 4391 by Travis Zachery from 1998-2001. Hamilton, who had an ACC sophomore record and league best 1883 yards last year, needs just 1069 all-purpose yards to break Zachery’s record.
Hamilton led the ACC in kickoff returns as a freshman and led the league in all-purpose running as a sophomore. He had a career high 256 all-purpose yards in just 14 touches in the win over Georgia Tech last year at Death Valley. He also had games of at least 200 yards against Florida State, Virginia and Texas Tech. He had a 101-yard receiving game, a 97-yard rushing game, a 96-yard punt return game and a 113-yard kickoff return game during the 2002 season.
Hamilton is the first Clemson receiver in history to have at least 100 catches through the end of his sophomore season. He had five catches for 46 yards in the opener against Georgia and added five more against Furman, giving him 115 receptions for his career. He moved ahead of Zachery and Phil Rogers into seventh place on Clemson’s all-time list in that areaa. He is also 11th in receiving yards with 1392.
Hamilton also holds the all-purpose running yards per game record for a career with 123.1 for his 27-game career as a Tiger.
Clemson All-Purpose Running Leaders
Clemson Career Reception Leaders
Clemson Depth Chart Breakdown Clemson has a balanced depth chart from a class standpoint. A look to the 22 starters shows that there are eight seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and one freshman listed as first team players. The only freshman on the first team offense is guard Nathan Bennett who started against Georgia. He is the first freshman to start the season opener on the offensive line since 2000 when Jermyn Chester started at offensive guard against The Citadel in the season opener.
Clemson played 63 players against Georgia and 61 against Furman. The Tigers played 14 freshmen, 19 sophomores, 18 juniors and 12 seniors against the Bulldogs. That includes special teams players. On offense, Clemson played 28 players, including eight freshmen, 10 sophomores, five juniors and five seniors. Clemson played 23 players on defense, including two freshmen, six sophomores, 10 juniors and five seniors. Out of the 51 players who participated on scrimmage plays against Georgia, 10 were freshmen, 16 were sophomores, 15 were juniors and 10 were seniors.
Other Personnel Items of Interest from Georgia game: First-Year Freshman who played: (3) Brandon Pilgrim (OG), Jad Dean (PK)
Players who made first career start: (9) Duane Coleman (TB), DeJuan Polk (DT), J.J. Howard (DE), Lionel Richardson (WHIP), Tye Hill (CB), Jamaal Fudge (ROV), Travis Pugh (FS), Cole Chason (P)
Players who played in a game for the first time (18): Roman Fry (OT), Brandon Pilgrim (OT), Nathan Bennett (OG), Marion Dukes (OG), Chansi Stuckey (QB), Duane Coleman (TB), Reggie Merriweather (RB), Steven Jackson (FB), Michael Collins (WR), Kelvin Grant (WR), Anthony Waters (LB), Lionel Richardson (WHIP), Jad Dean (PK), Buddy Williams (CB), Gaines Adams (DE)
Leake Named to Butkus Watch List Clemson linebacker John Leake has been named to the list of preseason Butkus Award candidates as announced by the Butkus Award committee. Leake is a senior from Plano, TX in his third season as a starting linebacker for the Tigers. The Award is named after all-time great college and pro linebacker Dick Butkus. The award will be presented to the nation’s top linebacker on December 12, 2003 in Orlando. Leake was one of nine ACC players named to the preseason list. The others are Darryl Blackstock and Ahmad Brooks of Virginia, Michael Bouleware and Kendyll Pope of Florida State, Daryl Smith and Keyron Fox of Georgia Tech, Ryan Fowler of Duke and Joe Leon of Maryland. Leake had seven tackles in the opener and 10 in the Furman game , and now has 329 for his career, 10th on the Clemson all-time list. He moved ahead of former teammate Rodney Thomas in the Furman game with his 10 tackles. Another 10-tackle effort against Middle Tennessee will move him into ninth place ahead of Tim Jones, who had 338 between 1991-94. A starter in 27 consecutive games entering the Middle Tennessee game, he reached double figures in tackles in 11 of the 13 games a year ago. Leake is one of three Clemson players on preseason award lists for 2003. Earlier, Justin Miller was named as a preseason candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the top defensive back in the nation, and Aaron Hunt was named to the Lou Groza Award list, which is given to the nation’s top placekicker.
Clemson Career Tackle Leaders
Clemson Preseason Honors 2003 Five different 2003 Clemson players are ranked among the top 20 players in the nation at their respective positions according to various preseason publications. The list includes wide receivers Kevin Youngblood, linebacker John Leake, placekicker Justin Miller.
The presence of Hamilton and Youngblood, along with returning starter and All-America track athlete Airese Currie, and red-shirt freshman Kelvin Grant, is a major reason Clemson’s receiving corps is ranked among the best in the nation. That list also does not include Roscoe Crosby, who had 27 catches in 2001 and just joined the team in mid-August.
Miller is ranked as the number-two cornerback in the nation by Sporting News and the number-four defensive back in the nation by collegefootballnews.com. That internet site also selects Miller as a first-team All-American and as the number-one rising star among defensive backs nationally. Collegefootballnews.com also ranks Miller as the 32nd best college football player in the nation regardless of position. He is on the Thorpe Award preseason list.
Miller, a native of Owensboro, KY, was a unanimous freshman All-American last year after leading the ACC and ranking fifth in the nation with eight interceptions. He tied the Clemson freshman record for passes defensed with 17 and the overall record for interceptions in a season, records set by Robert O’Neal in 1989. Miller also had 61 tackles and caused two fumbles during his freshman campaign. He led the ACC in interceptions and kickoff return average (35.1). His kickoff return average was the third highest in ACC history.
John Leake is ranked as the #17 outside linebacker in the nation by Lindy’s and is 18th by Sporting News. Collegefootballnews.com ranks Leake 22nd among all linebackers nationally. The Sporting News also says that Leake is the hardest hitting linebacker in the ACC. He is on the Butkus Award preseason list.
Hamilton is ranked #16 nationally among wide receivers by Sporting News, while Youngblood is ranked 19th among receivers according to Lindy’s. Athlon ranks Clemson’s receiving corps fourth in the nation, while collegefootballnews.com lists it fifth best, The Sporting News ranks it eighth and Lindy’s sees it as the 10th best group of receivers in the country.
Aaron Hunt is ranked s the 15th best placekicker in the nation by Sporting News, while collegefootballnews.com ranks Hunt 14th among all punters and placekickers in the nation. Charlie Whitehurst is listed as the number-six rising star among quarterbacks nationally. He is on the Lou Groza preseason list. He was a semifinalist for that honor last year.
Clemson has Eight Graduates on RosterThe 2003 Clemson team has already tied a school record and the kickoff of the season opener has not even taken place. This year’s team has eight graduates on its roster, tying the Clemson record set by last year’s team. Now in his fifth year as Clemson head coach, Tommy Bowden’s has had 27 players earn degrees before the end of their eligibility, more than any other five-year period in Clemson history.
The current list includes two players, William Henry, who have actually had their degrees for over a year. They are playing their final two seasons as graduate students.
The current list is not filled with walk-ons. Seven of the eight players are starters, and wide receiver Tony Elliott can be a starter when Clemson goes to a four wide receiver lineup. He was among the team leaders in yards per catch last year. All eight graduate student-athletes on the Clemson roster this year are African American. Each year the NCAA issues a graduation rate report that breaks statistics down by race. In this year’s report, the 1996-97 academic year was used in its study. Clemson had a perfect 9-9 in African American graduation rate from that class and an 82.4 percent overall.
Clemson Graduates on 2003 Team
Football Graduation Rate 11th in NationThe graduation rate for Clemson football players who entered the University during the fall of 1996 is 78 percent, 11th best in the nation among the 117Division I-A schools according to figures released by the NCAA this week. That includes a graduation rate of 89 percent among African Americans, the seventh best percentage in the nation among Division I-A schools.
The NCAA released its graduation rate data for student-athletes who entered school in the 1996-97 academic year. Clemson trailed only Rice, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Hawaii and Notre Dame when it came to graduation rate among African American football players who entered that year. Boston College, Duke, Stanford and Penn State were among the schools below Clemson’s 89 percent figure.
Clemson would have had a 100 percent rate had it not counted a student-athlete who transferred just two weeks after school began and never suited up for a game. NCAA policies call for schools to count scholarship athletes who enroll and begin classes. The study also did not count two players, Mike Seth and Jason Gamble, who entered in January of 1996. Both of those student-athletes also graduated, but the NCAA does not count student-athletes who entered at mid-year.
NCAA figures examine scholarship athletes only. Student-athletes who transfer to other institutions, even if they leave in good academic standing and graduate from the second school, are classified as non-graduates for the initial institution.
As far as overall graduation rate among football players who entered that year, Boston College had the highest figure in the nation at 95 percent, while Notre Dame was second at 92 percent. Clemson was third among ACC schools with its 78 percent, trailing only Wake Forest (86 percent) and Duke (83 percent).
“These are good numbers, it is a testimony to the work that is being done by our staff at Vickery Hall,” said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden’s. “Our coaches have emphasized academics since we came to Clemson and the results have been good. We certainly want to continue to improve and strive to have all of our players earn their degree from Clemson.”
Clemson has eight players, including seven starters on the 2003 team who already have their undergraduate degree, tying the school record for active graduates on the same team. Twenty-seven Clemson football players have earned their degree before the end of their playing career since Bowden came to Clemson in 1999. That is the high figure for any five-year period in Clemson history.
Clemson had a 66 percent graduation rate for scholarship student athletes in all sports who entered during the 1996-97 academic year, an increase of 19 percent over the previous year. The graduation rate for student-athletes who entered that year was just six percent below the 72 percent graduation rate of the overall Clemson student body.
Top Football Graduation Rates, Division I Institutions (Student-athletes who entered in 1996-97) Overall African Americans Rk School % Rk School % 1. Boston College 95 1. Rice 100 2. Notre Dame 92 Vanderbilt 100 3. Vanderbilt 91 Northwestern 100 4. Wake Forest 86 Hawaii 100 Penn State 86 Wake Forest 100 6. Rice 83 6. Notre Dame 92 Duke 83 7. Clemson 89 8. Stanford 82 8. Boston College 88 9. Northwestern 81 Duke 88 10. Tulane 79 Stanford 88 11. Clemson 78 11. Penn State 85 12. Western Michigan 76 12. Tulane 82 13. TCU 75 13. Washington 80 Baylor 75 Tulsa 80 Indiana 75 15. Baylor 75 Tulsa 75 Rutgers 75 Southern Miss. 75 Southern Miss. 75 Utah State 75
Hunt Fifth in Clemson History in Scoring Aaron Hunt enters the Middle Tennessee game with 37 field goals in 53 career attempts. He has also kicked 130-134 extra points for a total of 241 career points. He is fifth in scoring in Clemson history on a career basis.
A year ago he was 17-22 on field goals, but is 0-3 so far this season. He had made 27 of his last 34 field goals entering 2003. He has missed just one extra point each of the last two years.
Hunt scored in each of the first 36 games he played in his career, a Clemson record. That streak was broken when Clemson was shut out by Georgia in the opener. Hunt missed a 52-yard field goal in that game and thus was charged with a game played, ending his streak.
He did not play against NC State last year when Clemson lost 38-6, as the Tigers did not attempt a field goal or extra point. He has 241 total points and needs 61 points to break Nelson Welch’s record. He has scored at least 74 points in each of his first three seasons with the Clemson program. He is also fifth in school history in career field goals. Welch holds the record, an ACC mark as well, with 72.
Clemson Career Scoring Leaders
Miller/Hamilton Both In top 30 in Kickoff Returns Clemson has one of the top kick return duos in the nation. Each of the last two ACC kickoff return champions have come from Clemson. Derrick Hamilton won the ACC kickoff return championship in 2001, while Justin Miller won the title last year. Miller had a 35.1-yard average last year on 13 returns. He did not have enough returns to rank nationally, but had enough to lead the ACC.
Both players could be involved in t8e punt return game as well. Hamilton averaged over 10 yards a return last year and has 400 career punt return yards.
Hamilton ranks seventh in the nation in kickoff returns this week, while Miller is 26th. Hamilton’s figures got a boost when he had a 66 yard return against Furman. For the season, Hamilton has a 35-yard average on three returns, while Miller has a 26.5 average on four returns. Clemson is 15th in the nation in kickoff returns as a team with a 30.1 average.
ctive Tigers Among Clemson Career LeadersClemson has some active players who already hold some school records and rank among the school’s career leaders in various categories. The following is a recap:
Derrick HamiltonClemson records Held: *Most all-purpose running yards in a season (1883, in 2002) *Most all-purpose running yards/game in career (121.9) *Most 200-yard all-purpose running games in a season (3, in 2002) *Most punt returns in a season (35, in 2002) *Most kickoff returns in a season (32, in 2002) *Most yards per rush in a season (9.9 in 2002) *Most kickoff return yards in a season (696 in 2002) *Career Rankings *8th in total receptions (110) *12th in reception yardage (1332) *3rd in kickoff return yards (1191) *6th in all-purpose running yards (3169)
Kevin Youngblood *Ranked 19th in Clemson history in receptions (75)
Charlie WhitehurstClemson Records Held: *Most passing yards in a game (420 vs. Duke, 2002) *Most completions in a game (34 vs. Duke, 2002) *Highest single game passing efficiency (241 vs. North Carolina, 2002) Career Rankings *Ranked second in Clemson history in career completion percentage (.575) *Ranked third in Clemson history in career interception avoidance (2.8 percent) *Ranked fourth in Clemson history in passing efficiency (128.3) *Min of 20 attempts
John Leake*Ranked 13th in Clemson history in career tackles (312)
Aaron Hunt Clemson Records Held *Most extra points in a career (126) *Most extra points in a season (45 in 2000) *Consecutive games scoring a point (36, 2000-02) Career Ranking *Ranked fifth in Clemson history in scoring (237 points) *Ranked fourth in Clemson history in kick scoring (237 points) *Fifth in career field goals (37)
Justin Miller *Most interceptions in a season (8 in 2002) *Highest kickoff return average in a season (35.1 in 2002)
Airese Currie *Ranked fifth in Clemson history in yards per reception (16.0)
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