Dec. 6, 2007
New York, NY — Former Clemson consensus All-American and 1981 ACC Player of the Year Jeff Davis was one of 12 players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening, December 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Davis was the third former player in Clemson history inducted into the Hall Fame, the second in this decade.
Davis joins Banks McFadden, a Clemson All-American in 1939 who was inducted in 1959, and Terry Kinard, the national defensive player of the year in 1982 and unanimous first-team All-American in 1982 who was inducted in 2001. Davis played for the Tigers from 1978-81.
Davis was joined by 11 other former college players and two former coaches at the Hall of Fame induction. Along with Davis in the class of 2007 was Tom Brahaney, Oklahoma, Center from 1970-72; Dave Brown, Michigan defensive back from 1972-74; Doug Flutie, quarterback from Boston College, 1981-84; Johnny Johnson, safety, Texas, from 1976-79; Rex Kern, quarterback at Ohio State from 1968-70; and Ahmad Rashad, Oregon, running back and receiver from 1969-71. Also inducted was Anthony Thompson, Indiana, running back from 1986-89; Wilson Whitley, Houston, defensive tackle from 1973-76; Reggie Williams, Dartmouth, linebacker from 1973-75; Richard Wood, Southern California, linebacker from 1972-74; and Chris Zorich, Notre Dame, defensive tackle, 1988-90.
The two coaches who were inducted included Herb Deromedi of Central Michigan, 1978-93, and Joe Paterno of Penn State, 1966-present. Paterno was elected in 2006, but could not attend the ceremony due to an injury.
“I want to thank everyone and am very grateful to the Hall of Fame,” said Davis, on Tuesday at a press conference prior to the induction banquet. . “As a little boy I played the game of football for fun. I thank God for his blessings and the work ethic that my mother and grandmother instilled in me as I got into college. Jonathan Mckee, who has passed away, was a great high school coach and mentor, and playing at Clemson was part of my childhood dream.
“I also want to thank the people and administration at Clemson University, including current President Jim Barker and my coach Danny Ford for being present at this ceremony. Coach Ford had a strong impact on my career and my life.”
Davis was also honored by the ACC along with Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, at a reception sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday evening.
When examining Davis’s contributions to Clemson athletics in terms of leadership, citizenship and athletic records and awards, it is no surprise that he was named to college football’s top honor.
The native of Greensboro, NC registered a then Clemson record 175 tackles in leading a 1981 defense that set a school record for turnovers forced (41) in a season. He still holds the Clemson career record for caused fumbles (10) and recovered fumbles (8). His 24 tackles against North Carolina and All-American Lawrence Taylor in 1980 is still the Clemson record for tackles in an ACC game.
Davis played 40 games for Clemson between 1978-81 and had 469 career tackles, still third in Clemson history. He also accumulated 16 passes broken up, 20 passes defensed, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions. He started all 35 games for the Tigers between 1979-81. He was a model of consistency, registering at least double figures in tackles in 22 of his last 23 games. Overall, he had 30 double figure tackle games in his 40-game career and led the Clemson team in tackles in 25 different games.
For his accomplishments in 1981, Davis was named the MVP of the ACC, just the third defensive player in league history to win the award. He concluded the season in grand style with a 14-tackle performance in the 22-15 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska that clinched the National Championship for the Tigers, Clemson’s first national championship in any sport. Davis was named the Defensive MVP of the contest. Earlier in the year he had led Clemson to victory over Georgia (13-3 at Death Valley) with 11 tackles. It was the only regular season loss of Herschel Walker’s career and the victory was a key win in Clemson’s National Championship season.
At the conclusion of the season, Davis was named a first-team All-American by United Press International, the Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association, the Walter Camp Foundation and the Football News. He was named the national Lineman of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club. He was also named the defensive captain of Clemson’s National Championship team by his teammates.
Davis was a fifth-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1982, but proved the NFL scouts wrong by posting impressive numbers in a six-year NFL career. The inside linebacker played in 83 games, 72 as a starter between 1982-87. He led Tampa Bay in tackles three of the six years, including a career high 165 stops in 1984, and served as the team captain for four seasons. He still ranks eight in Bucs history in career tackles with 662.
Since the end of his playing career Davis has been inducted in the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1989 and to the school’s Ring of Honor in Memorial Stadium in 1995. He was inducted into the state of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and was named to the ACC’s 50-Year Anniversary team in 2002.
Davis gained national acclaim when he was the Field Director of the Call Me Mister Program in South Carolina. The program raises money for scholarships for African American males in the state of South Carolina who are pursuing secondary education as a career. In 2001, he received the “Use Your Life Award” from Oprah’s Winfrey’s Angel Network. He was presented the award on Winfrey’s program and she also contributed $100,000 to the Call Me Mister program.
Davis is now an assistant athletic director for fund raising in the Clemson Athletic Department and he remains active in the Call Me Mister program as a consultant.
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