Tye Hill, Charlie Whitehurst, and Charles Bennett made the move to the NFL officially over the weekend. All three were major contributors, while wearing the Orange and Purple. They traveled down different paths to get to Clemson, but their impact on Clemson was undeniable.
Whitehurst came to Clemson off an injury that caused his status to drop out of high school. Ironically, a shoulder injury caused some concern about Whitehurst on draft day. The Georgia native became the second quarterback in ACC history to pass for over 5,000 yards in his first two seasons. He will be playing behind the first ACC quarterback to pass for over 5,000 yards in his first two seasons, Phillip Rivers (NC State). Whitehurst overcame the high school injury and set every passing record at Clemson, and he will look to beat the odds in San Diego.
Hill comes into a new coaching situation in St. Louis. The former running back met his goal of being the first cornerback taken in the draft. Hill is just over two years removed from learning the position. The Saint George, South Carolina native is no stranger to being thrown into the fire. His first season at corner, he was tested by every opponent, as they shyed away from current New York Jet Justin Miller. In his rookie season, Hill will be challenged by the NFL. The Rams are a franchise that has been a Super Bowl contender, but their defensive effort has not matched their explosive offense. It was no question that the Rams had Hill, as their guy. The Rams could have taken Hill at #11, but the teams behind them were looking defensive line, so the Rams took the trade offer from the Broncos and took Hill with the 15th pick overall.
Bennett was most highly rated coming out of high school. He was a star defensive end at Camden High School. Bennett started coming on the scene, when Clemson made their memorable finish in 2003. Bennett was a two-year starter for Clemson, and a tremendous leader. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Bennett in the 7th round. The Buccaneers have had one of the NFL's top defenses for the last decade. Bennett will have a chance to learn under one of the best defensive coordinators in the league in Monte Kiffin. Bennett may have been a better fit with a team that runs a 3-4, but he will likely have a good chance to make the Buccaneers roster at DE or LB.
It was a good weekend for a group that showcased tremendous leadership and work ethic in their five years at Clemson. They laid the foundation to return Clemson football to the top of the ACC.