Clemson Tiger football team. By early 1917, World War I was slowly dragging toward a conclusion. But, after all the human lives lost through three weary years of battle, there was an urgent need for freshly trained soldiers. Clemson College, with a total enrollment of 1000 men at this time, responded in a big way to this need, with the entire senior class of 1917 volunteering to serve in the Armed Forces.
With the U.S. officially entering the War that year (April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress, seeking a declaration of war against Germany), training camps quickly sprung up in various parts of the country. At the time, America did not have a huge standing army at the ready, so these training camps were urgently needed.
Two such camps were Camp Sevier, in Taylors, South Carolina, and Camp Hancock, in Augusta, Georgia. As part of their training, or perhaps to boost morale, both these camps had “club” type football teams, which became established enough by the next year to find their way onto Clemson's football schedule in 1918.
It is also worthy to note that Clemson only was able to play seven total games in the 1918 season, even with the addition of those two military “club” teams. The rush to join the War meant that many schools could not, or simply chose not, to field a team in 1918. Clemson was able to do both. Coach Edward Donahue returned for his 2nd season, guiding the Tigers to a 5-2 season record.
Of note, Georgia Tech returned to the schedule, and Grant Field returned to bedeviling Clemson all over again, as the Bees took down the Tigers there 28-0.
The annual victory over the Coots was accomplished at “University Field” in Cootlumbia, which was a different site evidently than the previously listed “State Fairgrounds”. Either way, Clemson secured another Big Thursday win, 39-0, running the all time series record to 12-3-1.
The Citadel was another “neutral site” game, with the Tigers squeaking by them in Columbia, 7-0. Those always were some pesky Canines, just ask South Carolina. All season results below:
Camp Sevier W 65-0 At Georgia Tech L 28-0 (Grant Field strikes again) At South Carolina W 39-0 (University Field, Clemson leads all time 12-3-1) Camp Hancock L 66-13 (Georgia military recruits were much tougher on the gridiron) The Citadel W 7-0 (Columbia, SC) Furman W 67-7 Davidson W 7-0
*Historical note: There were actually three military “Training Camps” established in South Carolina at the time. They were, Camp Sevier (Taylors), Camp Wadsworth (Spartanburg), and Camp Jackson (Columbia). Of these, only Camp Jackson remains in operation today, known by its current name of Fort Jackson.