The Clemson football program continues to raise the bar a little bit higher each year.
Fresh off its first national championship in 35 years, the program set a new standard in terms of participants in the NFL Scouting Combine with the news on Wednesday that nine of its former players will participant in the week-long event starting on Feb. 28 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Ind.
The old mark was eight, which was set in last year’s scouting combine.
The Clemson players invited include linebacker Ben Boulware, running back Wayne Gallman, safety Jadar Johnson, tight end Jordan Leggett, wide receiver Artavis Scott, cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and wide receiver Mike Williams. All nine not only helped Clemson to a 14-1 record and win the National Championship this past season, but they all have a college degree, too. That by itself is impressive.
The all-time mark is just another mark that proves how far the Clemson program has come since Dabo Swinney took over the program in 2009. In his eight seasons as head coach, only once has Clemson sent no fewer than five participants to the scouting combine. That of course took place in 2013 when only three former Tigers were invited.
In all, 56 former Tigers have been invited to the combine since Swinney became the permanent head coach in 2009. In the 10 previous seasons of the combine, the Tigers had just 31 invitees, with no one going in 2000 and 2002.
Clemson had seven former players invited to the combine in 1999, 2007 and 2011.
I’m always asked, “How can you truly measure the success of a program?” A lot of people will answer that by stating the obvious, “It’s about wins and losses.” The next way to grade it, they say, “the number of championships it has won.”
Sure, those things are important and yes they are needed to measure the overall success. But when a program not only wins football games, conference championships, bowl games and national championships, but graduates its players and sends them onto the next level, now that is truly winning in every phase.
Of the 150 seniors that have played for Swinney in his eight seasons as head coach at Clemson, 144 have earned their college degrees.
Heading into this year’s NFL Draft, Clemson has had 38 players drafted since Swinney took over the program. That ranks tied for sixth in the nation in total draft selections since the 2010 draft.
Clemson has had at least four players drafted every year, something only Oklahoma, LSU and Alabama can claim.
The program has had at least one first-round draft choice each of the last four years. DeAndre Hopkins (No. 27) was a first-round pick by Houston in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. Sammy Watkins was the No. 4 overall selection of the 2014 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. At the 2015 draft, Vic Beasley (No. 8) and Stephone Anthony (No. 31) went in the first round. Beasley led the NFL in sacks in 2016. Shaq Lawson (No. 19) was a first-round selection of the Bills in the 2016 draft, the first of a modern draft-day record nine Clemson players selected.
In all, Clemson had 39 former players on NFL rosters last year, the most for the program in one season. Thirty-three of them played in at least one game and 24 of them made at least one start.
That is how you truly measure the success of a program. By the way, Clemson’s nine participants in the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 28-March 6) ranks tied for fourth in the nation in terms of total players invited. Michigan has the most with 14, while Alabama and LSU have 10 apiece. Clemson, Texas A&M and Miami all have nine.
Oh by the way, South Carolina had none. I figured you might like that stat the most.
Clemson Yearly Combine Invitations since 1999:
1999 (7), 2000 (0), 2001 (3), 2002 (0), 2003 (3), 2004 (2), 2005 (4), 2006 (3), 2007 (7), 2008 (2), 2009 (6), 2010 (6), 2011 (7), 2012 (6), 2013 (3), 2014 (5), 2015 (6). 2016 (8). 2017 (9).
We are now taking orders for our limited edition magazine Mission Accomplished. Remember Clemson’s championship season with this great magazine from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year. Order your’s today to make sure you get a copy!