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Program Feature: Tigers in the NFL

Program Feature: Tigers in the NFL

Nov. 17, 2006

Keith Adams * LB * Miami DolphinsIn the NFL: Drafted by the Eagles in April of 2001 and made his first career start on September 12, 2004 against the Giants…had 54 tackles in 2004 and finished second on the team in special teams tackles (24)…had a career-high 69 tackles in 2005 with Philadelphia…played in Super Bowl XXXIX with the Philadelphia Eagles…has played in eight games as a reserve with Miami in 2006.At Clemson: Led the nation in tackles (186), tackles for loss (35), and was second in sacks (16) in 1999…earned All-America honors in 2000…finalist for the Butkus Award in 2000…holds the school record for most tackles in a game (27 against rival South Carolina in 1999)…ACC Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 1999 and runner-up the following year…two-time First-Team All-ACC selection…finished his career with 379 tackles, 54 tackles for loss, and 23 sacks in just three years…turned professional after his junior season.

Charles Bennett * DE * Tampa Bay BuccaneersIn the NFL: Defensive end with Tampa Bay in his rookie season…has played in one game…drafted in the seventh round in April of 2006.At Clemson: Consistent defensive end who was a big reason Clemson was 11th in the nation in scoring defense in 2005…veteran of 46 career games and 22 starts…went over the 1,000 mark in career plays in the win over #19 South Carolina…starter during the last two years…started 22 of the last 23 games…finished with 27.5 career tackles for loss, including 14 as a junior and 12.5 as a senior…two of his three interceptions were huge plays at the end of games…had an interception against N.C. State on the last play of the game at the goal line to preserve a six-point victory in 2004, then had an interception off a tipped pass on South Carolina’s final play to preserve a 13-9 win in 2005.

Airese Currie * WR * Chicago BearsIn the NFL: Fifth-round draft pick in April of 2005…on injured reserve list in 2005 and has been on the active roster in 2006, but yet to have a reception for the NFC’s top team…has been limited by injuries again this season; he has appeared in just one game.At Clemson: First-Team All- ACC in 2004…led the ACC with 5.5 receptions per game in 2004…first Tiger since 1980 to lead the ACC in receptions…finished his career tied for seventh with Brian Wofford on the all-time list for receptions (138) and was sixth in receiving yards (2,030)…Chansi Stuckey is right behind him and could overtake him in his final home game today…had 10 touchdowns and a 14.7-yards-per-catch average over his career…played in the Senior Bowl in 2004…three-time All-ACC track performer for the Tigers.

Brian Dawkins * FS * Philadelphia EaglesIn the NFL: Regarded as one of the top safeties in the NFL; he is a future NFL Hall of Fame candidate…five-time Pro Bowl selection who was ninth on the Eagles’ all-time games played list (141) entering this season; he is now at 150…one of just four players in NFL history to record at least 28 interceptions and 17 sacks…earned Pro Bowl selections following the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2005 seasons…has recorded four career playoff interceptions, second-most on Philadelphia’s all-time list…in 2004, he was second on the team with three interceptions and third with 125 tackles, the second-best total of his career…named as a Pro Bowl injury replacement in 2005 after he had 51 tackles in seven games…named the Eagles’ Defensive MVP with a career-high 131 tackles in 2002; also recorded three sacks, two interceptions, and seven caused fumbles…against the Texans, he became the first player in NFL history to have a sack, interception, recovered fumble, and touchdown reception in a single game…has started every game this year and had 51 tackles in the first nine games along with an interception.At Clemson: Second-team All-American as a senior in 1995…had a team-high six interceptions during the course of that season, three of which came in one quarter against Duke…two-time All-ACC selection…tied for second in all-time takeaways (15)…finished his career with (234) tackles and 11 interceptions…Senior Bowl invitee…led the ACC in interceptions (6) in 1995…earned his undergraduate degree in education.

Nick Eason * DT * Cleveland BrownsIn the NFL: In his third year with the Cleveland Browns…drafted by Denver, but never played in a game; he was on the Broncos’ practice squad…had 19 tackles and two sacks while playing in all 16 games in 2005…has played in six games so far this season with eight tackles.At Clemson: First-Team All-ACC selection in 2002…had 64 tackles and seven sacks from his defensive tackle spot…named a strength All American in 2002…finished 15th on the Tiger career sack list…played in the Senior Bowl in 2003…was a five-time winner of the ACC Top Six Award, given to student-athletes who exhibit extraordinary community service; he was the only five-time member of that team in Tiger history…earned his marketing degree in August of 2001, then earned a graduate school degree two years later.

Rod Gardner * WR * Kansas City ChiefsIn the NFL: Reserve wide receiver with the Kansas City Chiefs…has played in seven games this year and has two receptions…played with two teams in 2005 (Carolina, Green Bay)…in sixth year in the NFL; he has over 3,000 receiving yards…finished 2005 with the Packers; he caught four passes for 67 yards…played four years with the Washington Redskins and had a productive career, including a 1,000-yard season…had 51 receptions for 650 yards and five touchdowns in 2004, his final year when he played under Steve Spurrier…had 59 catches for 600 yards and five touchdowns in 2003; he also threw a pair of touchdown passes that season on reverse plays…had his best year in 2002 when he had 71 receptions for 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns; he was 13th in the NFC in receiving that year…as a rookie in 2001, he had 46 catches for a team-best 741 yards; he also averaged 16.1 yards per catch, best on the team…started all 16 games as a rookie; he had four touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards.At Clemson: First-team All-American in 2000…only player in the nation in 2000 to be a first-team All American, a first-round draft pick, and earn his college degree…second in Tiger history in career receptions (166)…only receiver in school history to have two 1,000-yard receiving seasons…set 11 school records overall…responsible for the game-winning touchdown against rival South Carolina in 1999; he then set up the winning field goal the following year with a last-second catch from Woodrow Dantzler…tied the school record for touchdown receptions in a game (3) against North Carolina in 2000.

Chris Gardocki * P * Pittsburgh SteelersIn the NFL: Veteran punter who has played more NFL seasons (16) and more NFL games (237) than any other former Clemson player in history…holds the NFL record with 1,145 consecutive punts without a block through games of November 13; he has never had a punt blocked in his career…named First-Team All-Pro in 1996 by Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, and Sports Illustrated; he also played in the Pro Bowl for AFC that year…Second-Team All-Pro by UPI and Football News in 1996…starter for the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005…has had 12 consecutive seasons with at least a 41-yard punting average…has had 317 career punts inside the 20 and has punted the ball over 49,000 yards, or 27.84 miles.At Clemson: Multi-talented placekicker and punter who was an All-American in 1989 and 1990…inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 2001…holds the season and career records for punting average, and the record for most career points per game…holds the record for most consecutive extra points (72)…three-time All-ACC selection by UPI…the last punt in his career was a 78-yard boot against South Carolina…tied the school record for longest field goal; he made a 57-yard kick against Appalachian State in 1990…fourth in the nation in both punting and field goals per game as a junior, just the second player in NCAA history to accomplish that feat.

LeRoy Hill * LB * Seattle SeahawksIn the NFL: Selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks…played in the Super Bowl his rookie year and started nine games; he had 72 tackles and 7.5 sacks for that rookie year…also a starter in 2006, he has 50 tackles in first eight games, plus two sacks…Hill was the second-leading tackler on the team in 2005 when he played in the Super Bowl.At Clemson: Two-time First-Team All ACC selection over the course of his career…ACC Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2004…first-team All-American by and third-team All-American by AP as a senior…played in the Senior Bowl for the South team and was named the Defensive MVP…finished his career with 48 tackles for loss and 16 sacks…14th in Clemson history in sacks and tied for fifth with 48 tackles behind the line of scrimmage…15th in school history with 311 tackles, 251 of which came during his final two seasons as a Tiger…concluded his career by notching at least one tackle for loss in 22 of his final 24 games.

Tye Hill * CB * Saint Louis RamsIn the NFL: First-round draft pick of the Saint Louis Rams; he has started three of the first nine games this season…had an interception against Denver in his first career game…had 22 tackles in his first nine games with the Rams.At Clemson: First-team All-American as a senior when he was also a first-round draft pick and earned his degree; he was one of just seven Division I players to do all three that year…finalist for the Thorpe Award, the first Clemson defensive back to receive that honor…First-Team All-ACC in 2005…set the Clemson record for pass breakups in 2004 when he had 21, among the top-10 figures in the nation…started his career as a running back in 2002, then he was a starting cornerback his final three seasons.

Corey Hulsey * OL * Oakland RaidersIn the NFL: Signed with the Raiders in 2004 and played in the final three games of the season; he has been with the team ever since…started for Oakland against Seattle in a recent Monday night game on ESPN this year…in his sixth season in the NFL…played for Buffalo in 2001…turned professional after his junior year (1998)…veteran of 37 NFL games through November 13, 2006.At Clemson: Second-Team All-ACC selection in 1998 as a junior…started at offensive guard in all 11 games as a 335-pounder, the biggest starting offensive guard in school history…still the only offensive lineman in Clemson history to leave a year early for the NFL.

John Leake * LB * Atlanta FalconsIn the NFL: Signed by the Falcons on January 7, 2005…originally signed by the Tennessee Titans on April 27, 2004…played with Green Bay and Atlanta in 2005, and is now back with Atlanta as a special teams player…had two tackles in his first seven games as a special teams player for Atlanta this year.At Clemson: Fifth-leading tackler (443) in Clemson history…played in the 2004 East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco, CA…selected as the team’s 2003 Solid Rock Award winner for his solid, consistent, and dependable play at his position…2003 Strength All- American…his 49 career games played are second-most in school history…started each of the last 38 of those games during the 2001-03 seasons…10th in the ACC in 2003 in tackles per game…named Honorable Mention All-ACC three times.

Dexter McCleon * CB * Houston TexansIn the NFL: In his 10th season in the NFL; he is a starter with the Houston Texans…veteran of 141 games in the NFL; he had 15 tackles in the first nine game this year…played in 11 games in 2005 for Kansas City, starting five at right cornerback…made 24 tackles with two interceptions and four passes defended in 2005 with Kansas City…started 16 games at cornerback in his first season with Chiefs in 2003; he totaled 64 tackles…had six interceptions in 2003, tied for fourth in the AFC and tied for seventh in the NFL…earned a Super Bowl Championship ring with Saint Louis in 1999…had a career-high eight interceptions, second-most in the NFL, in 2000 when he played for NFC Championship Rams.At Clemson: First-Team All-ACC cornerback in 1996…started on defense for four years; he also played quarterback as a freshman…played two years on the baseball team…in the top 15 in the nation in punt returns in 1993…started in the Peach Bowl at quarterback against Kentucky, a Tiger victory…led Clemson to victory over a top-20 Virginia team as a quarterback in 1993 when he had 127 yards rushing…had 28 career pass breakups, seventh-best in school history…earned a degree in management.

Justin Miller * CB * New York JetsIn the NFL: In his second year in the NFL; he is already regarded as the top kickoff return threat in the league…has two kickoff returns for touchdowns this year and three for his career; that includes a 103-yarder…named the AFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Month for October this year…had his most successful return game against Buffalo when he had 221 yards on six kickoff returns, including a 95-yard touchdown; also started at cornerback and was credited with three solo tackles and a pass breakup…leads the NFL in kickoff return average (30.1)…selected by the Jets in the second round (#57 overall) of the 2005 draft…established a new Jet single-season record for return yards with 1,577 on a team-record 60 returns as a rookie…started eight games at cornerback as a rookie and had 44 tackles.At Clemson: Set the NCAA single-game record for kickoff return yards (282) at Florida State in 2004; he had two kickoff returns for touchdowns in that game…ended his career with a 30.7-yard kickoff return average, the best in ACC history and the fourth-best in NCAA history…finished his career with 50 kickoff returns for 1,534 yards; that 30.7-yard average is actually the best in NCAA history given a minimum of 50 returns…led the nation in kickoff returns in 2004 with a 33.1-yard average on 20 returns…among the final 12 for the Thorpe Award in 2004…concluded his career third in Tiger history in interceptions (13), trailing only College Football Hall inductee Terry Kinard, who had 15…had eight of his 13 career interceptions during his freshman year when he was a first-team freshman All-American by every service that picked a team…Second-Team All-ACC as a cornerback in 2002 and 2004: was also a Second-Team All-ACC pick as a return specialist in 2004.

Trevor Pryce * DT * Denver BroncosIn the NFL: In his first year with the Baltimore Ravens…one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL over the last 10 years; he is a four-time Pro Bowl selection…has 68.5 sacks in his career, including 4.5 in 2006…in 2005, he started all 16 games and totaled 41 tackles (35 solo), and had a share of the team lead with four sacks; he was a big reason Denver had the second-best rushing defense in the NFL that year…named captain of the Denver defense in 2003 when he had 8.5 sacks and 51 tackles…selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive season in 2002…started all 16 games at left defensive end in 2002 and posted 61 tackles (51 solo), including a team-leading nine sacks, which tied for seventh-most in the AFC…voted to start in the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row in 2001; he was Second-Team All-Pro by Associated Press…had 13 sacks in 1999 when he was second in AFC; it was among the top-10 figures in franchise history…member of two Super Bowl Championship teams, which were his first two seasons in the NFL.At Clemson: Transferred from Michigan to play one year (1996) at Clemson…First-Team All-ACC in 1996…started off slowly but flourished by the end of the year, as he had 20 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 1996…Defensive MVP of Clemson’s Peach Bowl loss to Louisiana State with three tackles for loss, a sack, and a caused fumble…played in 20 games at Michigan in 1993,94…turned professional a year early out of Clemson and was a first-round draft pick.

Charlie Whitehurst * QB * San Diego ChargersIn the NFL: Second on the depth chart behind Philip Rivers with the San Diego Chargers…appeared in one game and scored a touchdown on a 14-yard run in his first professional game.At Clemson: Led Clemson to victory over Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl in his final game to give him 25 wins as a starting quarterback, second-most in Clemson history…had eight fourth-quarter comeback wins in his career, tied for most among active Division I quarterbacks in 2005…had seven career wins over top-25 teams, tying the school career record with Rodney Williams…four of his 25 career wins as a starter were against rival South Carolina, as he was the only quarterback in the 103-game history of the series to post a 4-0 record…was 2-1 against Florida State, including a 16-point win in 2003 and a 21-point win in 2005…Second-Team All-ACC quarterback in 2005…set 46 Clemson records when he graduated, including marks for career passing yardage, career completions, career touchdown passes, career completion percentage, and season completion percentage…had eight 300-yard passing games in his career, more than any other Tiger in history…finished his career at Clemson third in ACC history in career passing yards and fourth in career total offense.

Kevin Youngblood * WR * Atlanta FalconsIn the NFL: In his third season in the NFL…started the year on Atlanta’s active roster; he played in one regular-season game; he is now on the practice squad.At Clemson: Fifth in school history with 142 career receptions…Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2003…has two of the top-10 reception seasons in Clemson history with 70 in 2003 and 59 in 2002…Gridiron Classic participant…caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Charlie Whitehurst against Virginia in 2003…his 897 receiving yards in 2003 are seventh-most in school history.

Summaries written by Anthony Waters, a senior from Lake View, SC, and a student intern in the Clemson Sports Information Office. List includes players who finished their careers at Clemson and have played in at least one NFL game so far this season.