Clemson March Madness: Stars of Dabo era face-off in round two


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Vic Beasley advanced as a lower seed in round one and posted two of the more prolific seasons in Clemson history.
Vic Beasley advanced as a lower seed in round one and posted two of the more prolific seasons in Clemson history.

TigerNet's version of March Madness reaches the second round, as we're using the extra time at home now to recognize the best competitors in Clemson athletics history.

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

The second round in the Cemetery Hill and Bowman Field regions are up today with a host of Clemson legends, past and more present.

Two stars from the Dabo Swinney era meet with C.J. Spiller taking on Vic Beasley. Two of the top linebackers in Clemson history face each other with Jeff Davis and Anthony Simmons. And there's also a fun matchup between 'The Fridge' and 'The Bull' in the Bowman region.

We wrapped up the first round with the Jervey Region, where the biggest seed upset of the tourney came with Trevor Lawrence dominating the fan vote to topple 1-seed and three-time NCAA champion Brianna Rollins. Another Clemson QB gained the bulk of the votes for a minor upset in Tajh Boyd (10-seed) over former Clemson basketball star Trevor Booker (7-seed). Isaiah Simmons continued the football success by knocking off two-time, first-team All-American Jeff Baker.

Despite a strong social media campaign on Twitter, NCAA individual golf champ Charles Warren fell in the other three voting platforms to Bennie Cunningham. Terry Kinard, Horace Grant, Kris Benson and Dale Davis joined him as upper seeds moving on.

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. Without further ado, vote below (Voting deadline at 10 a.m. on 3/28)!


Cemetery Hill Region


Tournament road: Kennedy-Dixon made it out of a tough first-round matchup with Charlie Whitehurst, who gained a good amount of support on social media. Kirkland won three of the four voting categories for a minor upset over 1981 All-American receiver Perry Tuttle.

Case for Kennedy-Dixon

Played: 1978-82

* Two-time All-American after averaging 27.7 points and 11.4 rebounds as a forward for the Tigers in 1981 and 1982. Also the only three-time, first-team All-ACC pick in Clemson basketball history.

* Kennedy-Dixon led the NCAA with 29.3 points per game as a senior (ACC all-time best). Her 12.9 rebounds per game that season is also an ACC all-time leader. She paced the conference in steals per game that year too (3).

* Kennedy-Dixon has the top-three seasons in ACC history in points per game (1982 - 29.3; 1981 - 26.2, 1980 - 23.7) and the top-two and three of the top-five for total points (1982 - 908; 1980 - 853; 1981 - 811). Her 3,113 total career points were over 400 clear of the next-best in ACC history going into the 2019-20 season (Duke’s Alana Beard, 2,687).

Case for Kirkland

Played: 1988-91

* Two-time All-American and three-time first-team All-ACC honoree.

* Earned first-team and consensus All-American honors as a senior with 67 tackles (12 for loss), 5.5 sacks, six pass breakups and 15 QB pressures.

* Other recognition includes being a Clemson Ring of Honor member, 1989 Gator Bowl MVP and a freshman All-American.

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Kennedy-Dixon

Tournament road: Etienne ran up one of the bigger voting margins in the competition so far against 12-seed Bert Heffernan, who was a first-team All-American on the baseball side in 1988. Seth Beer cruised in a battle of former national player of the year honorees with soccer’s Robbie Robinson.

Case for Beer

Played: 2016-18

* Second three-time All-American in school history, joining Rusty Adkins, leading the Tigers in home runs three seasons in a row with 56 total and 177 RBIs.

* National player of the year as a freshman when he hit .369 with 57 runs, 13 doubles, 18 homers and 70 RBIs with a .700 slugging percentage, .535 on-base percentage, 62 walks, 15 hit-by-pitches and one steal in 62 starts.

* Career .321 hitter with 180 walks (35 intentional) to only 98 strikeouts (plus 42 hit-by-pitches) before a first-round MLB draft selection (Houston Astros, 28th overall). Left school No. 1 in Clemson history in slugging percentage (.648; min. 500 at-bats).

Case for Etienne

Played: 2017-current

* Clemson’s all-time rushing leader after tallying 4,038 yards and 56 touchdowns rushing (ACC-record) over 43 games as a Tiger so far. His 60 total touchdowns are also an ACC career-best (stat excludes passing TDs). Etienne’s career 7.8 yards per carry is almost two full yards better than the next-best in school history (Tavien Feaster, 5.99).

* Earned All-American honors each of the last two seasons, as well as ACC Player of the Year.

* He has Clemson’s single-season bests in rushing yards (1,658), yards per carry (8.1), total touchdowns (26) and points scored (156).

TigerNet staff vote: 80% Etienne

Tournament road: Beasley ended up under-seeded it appears and moved through round one over two-time baseball All-American Shane Monahan. Spiller prevailed over basketball’s first-team All-ACC true freshman Skip Wise.

Case for Spiller

* Became the third unanimous All-American in Clemson history, as a kick returner, in 2009 as he tied for the national lead in return touchdowns (4) with a 33.1 yards per average. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, which tied for a Clemson-best at the time.

* Earned Clemson’s first ACC Player of the Year honor since Michael Dean Perry as a senior -- a first Clemson ACC offensive player of the year since 1978 and quarterback Steve Fuller. Left school as the ACC’s all-purpose yards leader (7,588; second in NCAA history then) in an exclusive club with only former Heisman winner Reggie Bush with at least 3,000 rushing yards (3,547), 1,500 kickoff return yards (2,052), 1,000 receiving yards (1,420) and 500 punt return yards (569).

* Three-time track All-American as a sprinter also before a 9th overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft (Buffalo Bills).

Case for Beasley

Played: 2011-14

* Two-time first-team All-American before a top-10 NFL draft selection (No. 8 to Atlanta), tallying 44.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

* Clemson's all-time sack leader with 33.

* Had at least one sack in eight consecutive games from 2013-14 and 15-straight games with a tackle for loss to close his Tigers career.

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Spiller

Tournament road: Davis took on fellow Clemson Ring of Honor member Fred Cone to make round two, while Anthony Simmons topped prolific scorer on the basketball side, Butch Zatezalo.

Case for Davis

Played: 1978-81

* Captained and led Clemson’s first national championship team in tackles (175), earning ACC MVP and Orange Bowl defensive MVP honors during the 1981 season.

* First Clemson linebacker to earn consensus All-American honors (1981).

* College Football Hall of Fame member, ranking third in school history in tackles (469) and holding the school single-game record for stops (24 v. UNC in 1980) and career marks in both caused (10) and recovered fumbles (8).

Case for Simmons

Played: 1995-97

* Simmons left school joining fellow Clemson product William Perry as one of two ACC players to be named an AP All-American for three-straight seasons (first-team and then consensus first-team as a sophomore and junior respectively). He was a first Clemson defender to earn AP All-America honors since Terry Kinard in 1982.

* Simmons was only the second Clemson player to earn a national award with his Freshman of the Year designation from the UPI in 1995, where he posted 150 tackles (11 for loss) with 3.5 sacks and three pass breakups.

* Selected with the 15th overall pick of the 1998 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Simmons left as a junior ranked second in school history with 486 tackles.

TigerNet staff vote: 80% Davis


Bowman Field Region


Tournament road: ‘The Fridge’ won a battle of big men on the interior with recent All-American and first-round pick Dexter Lawrence. Sammie ‘The Bull’ Henson topped first-team All-ACC pitcher and designated hitter Jimmy Key.

Case for Perry

* Played: 1981-84

* Clemson’s first three-time All-American and All-ACC honoree, including consensus first-team All-American honors in 1983 and also first-team in 1984.

* Led Division I in tackles for loss per game as a senior (2.45) and was a Lombardi Award finalist (nation’s top player), tallying 100 tackles (27 for loss) with 10 sacks.

* Perry left Clemson with the top marks in sacks (25) and tackles for loss (60; also leading the ACC all-time).

Case for Henson

Competed: 1992-94

* Back-to-back NCAA champion at 118 pounds in 1993-94 while going 71-0 in matches.

* Clemson's male athlete of the year and the ACC wrestler of the year in 1994 after going 37-0. Led Clemson to its best team finish in the NCAA Championships of 7th in 1994.

* Honored as a top-100 athlete in ACC history.

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Perry

Tournament road: Tree Rollins won a basketball one-on-one with 1999-2000 ACC-leading scorer Will Solomon. Sammy Watkins advanced on over Clemson’s first baseball All-American, Billy O’Dell.

Case for Rollins

Played: 1973-77

* Earned All-American and All-ACC honors as Clemson reached a school-record 22 wins at the time in the 1976-77 season.

* An ACC 50th anniversary team member and the conference’s all-time leader in blocks per game (4.1) over his career and third in total blocked shots (450). Led the ACC in rebounds in 1975 (11.7) and 1977 (11.7) and in blocks per game in 1977 (3.9).

* Clemson’s leader and top-10 in ACC history in double-doubles (61), and also tops in school history in rebounds (1,311) and blocked shots (450).

Case for Watkins

Played: 2011-13

* Clemson’s first three-time, first-team All-American before tying Banks McFadden as the highest-picked Tiger in the NFL draft (4th; Buffalo Bills).

* Watkins left Clemson first in school history in receptions (240), receptions per game (6.7), receiving yards (3,391), receiving yards per game (94.2), 100-yard receiving games (15), tied for first in receiving touchdowns (27), second in all-purpose yards (5,129) and fifth in kickoff return yards (1,376).

* He set Clemson single-season marks as a junior in receptions (101) and receiving yards (1,464) to be a Biletnikoff Award finalist.

TigerNet staff vote: 80% Rollins

Tournament road: McIntyre prevailed in one of the tougher first-round battles with track and football star Jacoby Ford. Crawford eased to the finish line over baseball’s Billy Koch.

Case for Crawford

Competed: 1997-2000

* Three-time NCAA national champion with top-place finishes in the indoor (1998 and 2000) and outdoor 200m (2000). Second in Clemson track history with 11 ACC championships.

* Clemson track’s leader in All-American honors with 11, totaling four indoor and seven outdoor marks. A 12-time All-ACC selection.

* Still holds the Clemson record in the 200m indoor (20.09) and outdoor (20.26).

Case for McIntyre

Played: 1995-99

* Three-time All-ACC honoree, including first-team honors as a senior, with a spot on three NCAA Tournament-making Tiger teams.

* Led the ACC in points per game in 1999 (17.9).

* McIntyre ranks second in Clemson history in career scoring (1,839 ), second in three-point goals (259), third in assists (577) and fourth in steals (194).

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Crawford

Tournament road: Watson had the widest-margin of victory in the first round against two-time All-American and four-time first-team All-ACC golfer Jonathan Byrd. Likely buoyed by memory of his prolific pro career, Dawkins dispatched first-team All-American outfielder Billy McMillon.

Case for Watson

Played: 2014-2016

* Two-time winner of the Manning and Davey O’Brien awards (nation’s top QB) and also national player of the year in 2016 (Chic Harley Award) and national MVP in 2015 (Archie Griffin Award), as well as a finalist for the Walter Camp and Heisman trophies.

* Left Clemson third in ACC history in total offense (12,094) and also first in Clemson history in career completion percentage (.674), passing efficiency (157.5) and total offense per game (318.3) over just three seasons (including the most total offensive yards in a Clemson game with 588 vs. Pittsburgh in 2016).

* Tossed 16 passing touchdowns to only two interceptions in the fourth quarter, including a last-second TD connection to Hunter Renfrow against Alabama in the 2016 season to secure Clemson’s first national title since 1981. He tied Rodney Williams and Tajh Boyd for the most wins as a Tigers starting QB in that game (32).

Case for Dawkins

Played: 1992-95

* Second-team All-American in 1995 after totaling 89 tackles (four for loss), nine pass breakups and six interceptions.

* Three-time All-ACC honoree with a first-team spot in 1995. His three interceptions in one game that season versus Duke (all in one quarter) are a Clemson record. Dawkins' eight takeaways that season overall rank second in school history.

* Totaled 23 pass breakups, 15 takeaways and 251 tackles over 46 games (35 starts) as a Tiger.

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Watson

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