Success for Clemson football under Dabo Swinney dates back to the 2011 season. Firstly, Swinney has led Clemson to a 111-16 record since 2011, an 80% winning percentage.
Secondly, Clemson has made five college football payoff appearances, four national title game appearances, and have won two national championships, according to collegefootballplayoff.com.
Success for Clemson Football
Consequently, many outstanding players have contributed to that success:
QB Tajh Boyd (2010-2013)
Because he was a three-year starter at Clemson, Boyd accounted for 11,904 passing yards, 1165 rushing yards, 107 passing touchdowns, 39 interceptions, and 26 rushing touchdowns. As a result, he was named ACC Player of the Year in 2012. In addition, he was a 6th round draft pick of the New York Jets in the 2014 NFL Draft.
WR Sammy Watkins (2011-2013)
As a 1st team All-American in two of his three years at Clemson, Watkins led the ACC in receiving touchdowns with 12 in 2011 and led the ACC in receiving yardage with 1464 yards in 2013. As a result, Watkins accounted for 3397 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career. And, Watkins was a 1st round (4th overall) pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2014 NFL Draft.
RB Andre Ellington (2009-2012)
As a steady force in the Clemson backfield, Ellington rushed 0ver 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2011 (1178 yards, 11 TDs) and 2012 (1081 yards, 8 TDs). As for his career, 3436 yards and 33 touchdowns in his four-year career.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (2010-2012)
While Hopkins had a breakout year in 2012, he led the ACC with 82 catches for 1405 yards and 18 touchdowns. And, Hopkins was named to the 1st team All-ACC team that season. And, his career numbers are 204 catches for 3020 yards and 27 touchdowns. Hopkins was a 1st round draft pick by the Houston Texans in the 2013 NFL Draft.
QB DeShaun Watson (2014-2016)
Watson led Clemson to back-to-back college football playoff and national championship game appearances in 2015 and 2016, winning the title in 2016 by beating Alabama 35-31.
In 2015 he was named ACC Player of the Year. And, Watson put up some Heisman-worthy numbers. He passed for 4109 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. In addition, he rushed for 1105 yards and 12 touchdowns, accounting for 5214 total yards and 47 total touchdowns.
But, he would not win the Heisman. Derrick Henry of Alabama hoisted the trophy after rushing for 2219 yards and 28 touchdowns.
But, in the 2016 title game, Watson passed for 420 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. And, he also rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown in the win over Alabama in the national championship game.
As his Clemson career goes, Watson threw for 10,168 yards, 90 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions.
Consequently, he was drafted in the 1st round (12th overall) by the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL Draft.
WR Mike Williams (2013-2016)
Williams had a solid career at Clemson. In 2014, he caught 57 passes for 1030 yards and 6 touchdowns. Williams missed 14 games in 2015 due to injury.
In 2016, he caught 98 passes for 1361 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a result, he was named 1st team All-ACC and 2nd team All-American in 2016. For his career, Williams caught 177 passes for 2727 yards and 21 touchdowns.
He was a 1st round pick (7th overall) by the L.A. Chargers in the 2017 NFL Draft.
RB Wayne Gallman (2014-2016)
As a productive back in his three years at Clemson, Gallman rushed for over 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2015 (1527 yards) and 2016 (1133 yards, 17 TDs). And for his career, Gallman rushed for 3416 and 34 touchdowns.
WR Hunter Renfrow (2015-2018)
Renfrow played in 53 games at Clemson, catching 44 passes for 495 yards and six touchdowns during their run to the title in 2016, catching the winning TD pass from DeShaun Watson to beat Alabama for the title. And, he finished that game with 10 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. In a solid four-year career, Renfrow caught 186 passes for 2133 yards and 15 touchdowns.
QB Trevor Lawrence (2018-Current Roster)
As the starter for Clemson, Lawrence is 25-1. He took over for QB Kelly Bryant in the 5th game of his true freshman season in 2018. As a result, he went on to throw for 3280 yards, 30 touchdowns, and four interceptions in only 11 games. And, he was named 2nd team All-ACC.
As a result, he led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff, they beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the national semifinal. And in the title game against Alabama, he threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions as Clemson beat the Crimson Tide 44-16 to win the national championship. His 30 touchdowns led the ACC and he was #1 in the ACC in passer rating (157.6).
In 2019, Lawrence was named 1st team All-ACC after throwing for 3665 yards (led the ACC) and 36 touchdowns (#5 in NCAA) and eight interceptions. As a result, he led the Tigers back to the College Football Playoff, beating Ohio State 29-23. Against the Buckeyes, Lawrence threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, he rushed for 107 yards on the ground and a score.
However, he would lose to LSU 42-25 in the title game, the first loss of his college career. Accordingly, Lawrence threw for 234 yards and no touchdowns, completing less than 50% of his passes.
RB Travis Etienne (2017-Current Roster)
As a Louisiana native, Etienne is a two-time ACC Player of the Year. In 2018, he rushed for 1658 yards and 24 touchdowns, averaging a whopping 8 yards per carry. And, in 2019, he rushed for 1614 yards and 19 touchdowns. Etienne ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the 44-16 win over Alabama in the 2018 title game. And, his career numbers 4038 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns. Etienne will return for his senior season.
WR Justyn Ross (2018-Current Roster)
As a true freshman star, Ross caught 46 passes for 1000 yards and nine touchdowns. In his second year, he caught 66 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. He had five catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns in the title game against LSU. And, Ross is returning for his junior year.
WR Tee Higgins (2018-2019)
As a 1st team All-ACC selection in 2019, Higgins made 59 catches for 1167 yards and 13 touchdowns. But, he only had three catches for 52 yards and no receiving touchdowns against LSU. However, he did score a 36-yard rushing touchdown against the Tigers in that title game.
And, his career numbers are solid: 135 catches for 2448 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Last but not least, we can’t forget about the defense deigned by Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables, who has been at Clemson since 2012. As a result, he has coached some great defensive units that are consistently ranked as one of the top defensive units in the country. Consequently, he has also coached some great defensive players at Clemson:
- LB Stephone Anthony (225 career tackles)
- LB B.J. Goodson (108 total tackles in 2015)
- All-American LB Ben Boulware (238 career tackles)
- DL Clelin Ferrell (Career: 164 tackles, 50 TFLs, 27 sacks)
- LB Kendall Joseph (285 career tackles)
- DL Dexter Lawrence (Career: 133 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, 10.5 sacks)
- DL Christian Wilkins (Career: 191 tackles, 41 TFLs, 16 sacks)
- 2019 Butkus Award winner Isaiah Simmons (2019: 102 tackles, 16 TFLs, 8 sacks/Career: 236 tackles, 25.5 TFLs, 10.5 sacks)
Success for Clemson football
As expected, success for Clemson football should continue in 2020. Because Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Justyn Ross are returning, Clemson should have one of the best offensive units in college football.
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