Clemson March Madness: Sweet 16 stacked with All-American Tigers


by -
Travis Etienne has accomplished a bunch already but he has a tough Sweet 16 draw.
Travis Etienne has accomplished a bunch already but he has a tough Sweet 16 draw.

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

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

Here in the first part of the Sweet 16 vote is 25 All-American honors in all, among eight athletes, and seven team or individual national championships.

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 3/31)!


Cemetery Hill Region


Tournament road: Kennedy-Dixon won a second close battle with Clemson football, advancing over Levon Kirkland last round. She made it out of another one in the first-round matchup with Charlie Whitehurst, who gained a good amount of support on social media. Etienne advanced with ease on his path versus baseball’s Shane Monahan (two-time All-American) and Seth Beer (three-time All-American).

Kenendy-Dixon profile

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).

Etienne profile

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).

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* "Barbara Kennedy-Dixon embodied everything Clemson was about from the first time she put on the Clemson uniform until the day the passed away. She still leads the ACC in points scored and rebounds 38 years after she played her last game."

* “When you're the ‘best ever’ at a school you get my vote. She (Kennedy-Dixon) is the best female athlete in Clemson history and arguably the best player in ACC history.”

* “Etienne has put together a fantastic three-year run for the Tigers, but probably needs that extra year to get on Kennedy-Dixon’s level. A 2020 season would certainly do some work toward making his records last for almost 40 years like hers.”

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Kennedy-Dixon

Tournament road: Davis took on fellow Clemson Ring of Honor member Fred Cone to make round two and moved past fellow Tigers linebacker Anthony Simmons (three-time All-American) for the Sweet 16. Spiller prevailed over basketball’s first-team All-ACC true freshman Skip Wise and then two-time All-American and Clemson all-time sack leader Vic Beasley.

Davis profile

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).

Spiller profile

* 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).

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “Davis had a tremendous effect on Clemson’s first national-title team, while Spiller’s signing and subsequent career paid dividends that echoed well into the Dabo Swinney era. Probably a degree of recency bias here, but Spiller appeared like he could score or break a big play every time he touched the ball and he’s my pick here.”

* "C.J. Spiller's impact at Clemson is still felt today. He was the first recruit to believe in Dabo Swinney and is still around the program today."

* “He (Spiller) was Dabo's best recruit as a wide receivers coach and he was the one who showed enough faith in Dabo to return for a senior season. Nuff said.”

TigerNet staff vote: 100% Spiller


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 and then beat two-time NCAA champion wrestler Sammie ‘The Bull’ Henson. Watkins advanced over Clemson’s first baseball All-American, Billy O’Dell, in the first round, and then Tigers basketball legend and ACC all-time leader in blocks, Tree Rollins.

Perry profile

* 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).

Watkins profile

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.

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “I love William Perry, don't get me wrong. But so much of the lore of ‘The Fridge’ was because of his role on the ‘85 Bears. He was a tremendous collegiate player. But Watkins was the one who really helped start WRU and an influx of talent followed him out of Florida. His impact was greater.”

* “Both Perry and Watkins were dominant players in their era at their best. Perry’s ability to dominate the interior of a defensive line and post the kind of numbers he did gives him the edge in my eyes.”

TigerNet staff vote: 60% Perry

Tournament road: Watson moved on to the Sweet 16 versus All-American and three-time All-ACC team member Brian Dawkins. 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. Crawford eased to the finish line over baseball’s Billy Koch and came out on top versus three-time All-ACC honoree Terrell McIntyre.

Watson profile

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).

Crawford profile

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).

Assessing the matchup (TigerNet staff analysis)

* “Crawford was a phenom on the track with records still standing today despite the newer fast indoor track surface on campus. Watson’s impact on Clemson football building into the power it is now is undeniable, however, and he’s a strong contender for the top spot overall.”

* “Deshaun Watson. Heisman finalist that should have won. National Champion. The Goat. That's all you need to know.”

* "Deshaun Watson is arguably the best football player to come through Clemson in my lifetime but my vote goes to Shawn Crawford. He had as great of, if not a bigger impact on Clemson track as Watson had on football. A three-time national championship speaks for itself."

TigerNet staff vote: 80% Watson

Comment on this story
Print   
Send Feedback to TigerNet Staff: Email | Comment
Did OSU star DB take a jab at Trevor Lawrence?
Did OSU star DB take a jab at Trevor Lawrence?
5-star DB has Clemson in top-3
5-star DB has Clemson in top-3
Former Clemson DB signs with Dolphins
Former Clemson DB signs with Dolphins
Post your comments!
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest