by Sam Blackman
With the outstanding news that Clemson freshman baseball player, Seth Beer was named the winner of the Dick Howser award as the National Player of the Year, it brings to mind other Clemson athletes who have been named National Players-of-the-Year in their respective sports.
Winning the “Heisman” in any sport shows determination, talent, and a large contribution to a team’s success.
In men’s soccer, the Hermann Trophy is looked upon as the top award going to the player-of-the-year.
In 1987, Bruce Murray was Clemson’s first Hermann Trophy winner. The two-time All-American led Clemson to the National Championship that season. Murray had 20 goals and 11 assists in Clemson’s National Championship season in 1987. He was named the NSCAA National Player-of-the-Year and he led the ACC in goals, points, and was second in assists in 1987.
He had the winning goal in three NCAA Tournament games for the TIgers in 1987 against Evansville, Indiana and Rutgers, respectively. He was the first player in Clemson’s 40-40 club (over 40 goals and 40 assists in a career). Murray went on to set a record for most appearances for the United States National Team.
Wojtek Krakowiak won the 1998 Hermann Trophy. He was the 1998 consensus National Player-of-the-Year as he was the Soccer America, Soccer Times and the College Soccer Weekly National Player-of-the-Year. He was also named the 1998 ACC Player-of-the-Year and was named first-team All-ACC.
He scored 31 goals and had eight assists in 1998, as he led Clemson to the NCAA quarterfinals for the second year in a row. He led the ACC in goal scoring (31) and points (70). He is third in Clemson history for most goals scored in a single season with 31 in 1998. Krakowiak left school one year early to turn professional. In 1998, he led the ACC in goals (31) and points (70).
Chuck Kriese who was the Tigers’ Head Men’s Tennis Coach in 1976-2004 coached four players who were named ITA National Player-of-the-Year—the equivalent of winning the Heisman in men’s tennis.
In 1980, Clemson’s first All-American, Mike Gandolfo was named the ITA National Player-of-the-Year. In 1982 Mark Dickson won the award. The next season, Jean Desdunes became the third Clemson player to win the award in a four-year span. The fourth Tiger honored was in 1997 as Mitch Sprengelmeyer won the award as he led the Tigers to the ACC Championship. All four of the players were also named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Men’s Tennis Team.
In men’s golf, Clemson’s D.J. Trahan won the Ben Hogan Award as National Player of the Year in 2002. Trahan was named first-team All-ACC four times. He was a four-time All-American.
In 2009, the Tigers’ Kyle Stanley was the recipient of the Ben Hogan Award. He was National runner up at the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2009. He was a three-time All-American selection.
Clemson pitcher, Kris Benson was named National Player-of-the-Year in 1996, by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was also the Dick Howser Trophy and Rotary Smith Award winner. He was the number-one overall pick of the 1996 Major League Baseball draft and a 1996 Olympian.
The Tigers’ shortstop Khalil Greene was honored in 2002. ABCA, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball named him National Player-of-the-Year. He won the Dick Howser Trophy, Golden Spikes Award and Rotary Smith Award in 2002
In women’s track, Brianna Rollins was named the National Track and Field Athlete-of-the-Year in 2013. She also won the USTFCCCA National Track Athlete-of-the-Year in 2013. She was an eight-time All-American and an eight-time ACC Champion in various events at Clemson during her career in indoor and outdoor track in 2009-2013.
Clemson’s National Players and Athletes-of-the-Year
1987 Bruce Murray
1998 Wojtek Krakroviak
1980 Mike Gandolfo
1982 Mark Dickson
1983 Jean Desdunes
1987 Mitch Sprengelmeyer
Ben Hogan Award
2002 D.J. Trahan
2009 Kyle Stanley
Dick Howser Trophy
1996 Kris Benson
2002 Khalil Greene
2016 Seth Beer
The Bowerman Award
USTFCCA National Track Athlete of the Year
2013 Brianna Rollins
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