CMM: Clemson gridiron, diamond stars fight for Elite 8 spots


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Two of Clemson's current Tigers are still going strong in the bracket.
Two of Clemson's current Tigers are still going strong in the bracket.

TigerNet’s version of March Madness is in the Sweet 16, using our extra time at home now to recognize the accomplishments of the top competitors in Clemson athletics history.

This exercise measures the top accomplishments while a collegiate athlete and is meant to be a fun celebration of Clemson athletes across the decades.

Part two of our Sweet 16 vote includes three national player or athlete of the year honors and 12 All-America designations total among the eight athletes.

Gaining the majority of fan support set up Elite 8 matchups on the other side of the bracket between (3) CJ Spiller/(5) Travis Etienne and (1) William Perry/(2) Deshaun Watson.

Here's the full Clemson March Madness bracket:

Click here or on the image for larger view

Debate for your favorites in the bracket and examine the profiles for your pick of this elite group of Tigers. Vote below (Voting deadline at 10 a.m. on 4/1)!


Cemetery Hill Region


Tournament road: The multi-sport All-American McFadden advanced past 2016 title-game hero Hunter Renfrow in the first round and then fellow Dabo era legend Christian Wilkins in the second round. Perry topped 1981 All-ACC and All-ACC Tourney forward Larry Nance in the first round and then another former basketball star in Elden Campbell, who earned honorable-mention All-America and first-team All-ACC in Clemson’s regular-title run in 1990.

McFadden profile

Played: 1936-39

* Two-time All-American in basketball (1938-39) and Clemson’s first AP All-American for football (1939). McFadden helped lead the Tigers to the school’s only conference tournament victory (1939, SoCon) and the program’s first bowl win (Cotton Bowl, 1940).

* AP athlete of the year for 1939 and earned three letters out of basketball, football and track from 1936-39. College Football Hall of Fame member.

* No. 4 overall pick from the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers, which ties Clelin Ferrell, Gaines Adams and Sammy Watkins for the highest-drafted Clemson football players. Still holds the Clemson season record in punts of 50-plus yards (22) and the longest rush in school history (90 yards; tied by Travis Etienne in 2019).

Perry profile

Played: 1984-87

* Earned first-team All-American honors and captured ACC Player of the Year in 1987 after totaling 24 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a defensive tackle, in addition to 74 total stops and three pass breakups.

* Left Clemson as the ACC’s career leader in sacks (28) and tackles for loss (61) and still holds the TFL mark in school history.

* Finalist for the Outland Trophy in 1987 (nation’s best interior lineman) and a first-team All-ACC member in both 1986 and 1987.

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “McFadden’s versatility and impact on some big team accomplishments in Clemson history and multiple All-American honors gets him through to the next round here.”

* “How many people can pull off being a three-sport athlete and do them all well? That's Banks McFadden, one of the Tigers' first superstars.”

TigerNet staff vote: 100 McFadden

Tournament road: Adkins moved past two-time, first-team All-ACC running back Terry Allen and then three-time NCAA track champion Tina Krebs in round two. Greene advanced over two-time, first-team golf All-American Lucas Glover and national player of the year and two-time men’s soccer national champ Bruce Murray.

Adkins profile

Played: 1964-67

* First three-time All-American in Clemson baseball history, in the 1965-67 seasons.

* Holds the ACC’s longest hitting streak of 41 games, between the 1965-66 seasons, which was an NCAA record at the time (tied for seventh-longest now). He hit .444 without a single strikeout in 126 at-bats over the 1965 season (fourth-best average all-time). Had a .379 career average with a wooden bat.

* One of two baseball reps in the Clemson Ring of Honor with former coach Bill Wilhelm.

Greene profile

Played: 1999-2002

* Earned multiple national player of the year and All-American honors for a monster 2002 season, where his marks in doubles (33; NCAA-leading that season), home runs (27), RBIs (91), slugging percentage (.877), hits (134; NCAA-leading that season) and total bases (250; NCAA-leading that season) still lead the Clemson record books.

* He holds the Clemson career marks in hits (403), doubles (95), extra-base hits (154), RBIs (276) and total bases (668).

* Tied for being the fourth highest-drafted Tiger with a 13th overall selection to the San Diego Padres.

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “Khalil Greene is quite simply the best college baseball player I've ever seen, and I was here for the career of Seth Beer. Greene could do it all - hit for average, hit for power, run, play defense, throw. The total package and he put up numbers I doubt will ever be replicated.”

* “Adkins set the standard and Greene came in and re-wrote the Clemson baseball record books. There won’t be many single-season efforts like Greene’s in 2002 and that gives him the nod here.”

TigerNet staff vote: 100 Greene

Jervey Region

Tournament road: Lawrence toppled 1-seed Brianna Rollins in round one, a three-time NCAA champion and winner of the Bowerman Award for the nation’s top track athlete, and then beat out two-time All-American tight end Bennie Cunningham in the second round. Benson made it through to round two over two-time All-ACC and four-time Clemson-leader in scoring, Greg Buckner, and beat out another Clemson basketball rep in Dale Davis for a Sweet 16 spot, who was honorable-mention All-America and a three-time All-ACC pick.

Benson profile

Played: 1994-96

* 1996 national player of the year, All-American and ACC athlete and player of the year.

* His 7.56 strikeout to walk ratio in 1996 still ranks best in Clemson history. He won 15 consecutive starts over the 1995-96 seasons. His four shutouts in the 1996 season are still a conference record.

* No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 MLB Draft (Pittsburgh Pirates). 204 strikeouts in the 1996 season, which is second in Clemson history.

Lawrence profile

Played: 2018-current

* Led Clemson to the first 15-0 season in modern college football history and to 25 consecutive wins as a starter overall, which is the sixth-longest streak in CFB history for a starting QB.

* A two-time Manning Award finalist (nation's top QB), the consensus freshman All-American was the first true freshman to lead a team to a national title since 1985.

* Ended the 2019 season on a streak of 239-straight games without an interception, a school record), and added a running threat with 698 yards gained and the second-most rushing TDs on the team (9).

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “Lawrence has posted some great stats manning the ship of two of the better teams in Clemson football history. Benson put together one of the better individual runs for a Clemson athlete in school history into the 1996 season and was rewarded with a No. 1 pick in the MLB draft. Another year like he’s had and Lawrence probably gets the nod here, but I’ll stick with Benson, with the numbers and accolades as they are now.”

* “Kris Benson was dominant as a Tiger. In an era when the ball was known to fly out of the park, Benson was a master.”

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Benson

Tournament road: Kinard moved to the second round over former first-team All-American outfielder Tyler Colvin and on to the Sweet 16 over ACC total yards-leader and former ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd. Simmons pulled the upset versus two-time, first-team All-American Jeff Baker in the first round and continued the Cinderella-run versus former ACC player of the year and All-American Horace Grant.

Kinard profile

Played: 1978-82

* First Clemson player to earn first-team AP All-American honors in consecutive seasons (1981-82).

* Named national defensive player of the year by CBS Sports and earned unanimous All-American honors in 1982, a Clemson first.

* A College Football Hall of Famer and All-Century team member, Kinard was picked with the 10th selection in the 1983 draft by the New York Giants.

Simmons profile

Played: 2016-19

* 2019 Butkus Award winner (nation's top LB; Clemson's first) and just the sixth unanimous football All-American in school history.

* Posted team-leading tackle totals in both 2019 (107) and 2018 (97), in addition to team-best 2019 bests in tackles for loss (16), QB pressures (15), pass breakups (10) and sacks (8) while playing a number of defensive positions.

* A letterwinner for the 2017 track and field team in the long jump with a 13th-best finish at the ACC indoor championships.

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “You can't call yourself a Clemson fan and not know Terry Kinard. Kinard was a consensus first-team All-American for two years in a row, CBS National Defensive Player of the Year and on the USA Today All-College Football Team in the 1980s. Kinard is the all-time Clemson leader in interceptions with seventeen and tackles by a defensive back with 294. What more needs to be said?”

* “Two Clemson defensive greats meet here. Simmons’ versatility makes him stand out in the pantheon of Tigers athletics, but Kinard was among those in the ‘80s to pioneer the way for Clemson defenders to get multi-All-American nods and national player of the year honors.”

TigerNet staff vote 100% Kinard

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