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Best players in Clemson history: Center

Kyle Young ranks among the top student-athletes in Clemson history. He is the only three-time first-team Academic All-American in any sport in the Clemson record books. He is also one of just two ACC football players and one of just two offensive linemen in college football history to be a three-time first-team selection.

Young, who grew up in Clemson and went to high school at nearby Daniel High School, was a two-time All-American on the field in 2000 and 2001 – the only center in Clemson history to accomplish this feat. As the starting center for the Tigers, he was a finalist for the Dave Remington Award in 2000 and 2001 for the nation’s top center.

Young, who now serves as Clemson’s Associate Athletic Director of Administration, helped the Tigers to three bowl games in Tommy Bowden’s first three years at the school, including the 2000 season when Clemson finished 14th in the final USA Today poll with a 9-3 record. Young provided many of the holes that Woodrow Dantzler ran through to establish Clemson and national records as the starting quarterback in 2000 and 2001.

In 2001, Young became the first Clemson football student-athlete in 23 years to win an NCAA Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award. He also won the Jim Tatum Award given to the ACC’s top scholar athlete in football and was the recipient of the Anson Mount scholarship for the nation’s top scholar athlete in football.

Young, who lettered at Clemson from 1998-2001, was a Strength & Conditioning All-American in 2001 and is the only student-athlete in Clemson history to be named an All-American in all three areas. He and former Tiger and current PGA golfer Jonathan Byrd are the only athletes in Clemson history to be named on-the-field and academic All-Americans twice.

Young also tied a school record with 40 straight games and started a then Clemson record 36 at center. A three-time All-ACC pick, Young had a record tying 21 knockdown blocks against NC State in 2001.

Honorable mentions:

Jeff Bostic (1976-’79): Bostic never made All-American, but he was still one of the best centers to ever play at Clemson. Bostic was a key component in the resurgence of Clemson football in the late 1970s. During his career, Clemson played in three bowl games, the 1977 and ‘78 Gator Bowls and the 1979 Peach Bowl. The 1977 Gator Bowl appearance was the first bowl game for the Tigers in 18 years. Bostic was a three-year starter on the offensive line, two years at center and one year at offensive guard. Bostic also handled the deep snapping and was named first-team All-ACC in 1979. Bostic teamed with his brother, Joe, to anchor the offensive line in 1977 and ‘78, the greatest offensive line brother combination in Clemson history. Bostic went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and won three Super Bowls – the most Super Bowl titles by a former Clemson player.

Dalton Freeman (2009-’12): A First-Team All-American in 2012, Freeman had 28 knockdowns in 959 snaps over 13 games. For his career he had 171 knockdowns in a school-record 3,361 snaps over 53 games (49 starts). He tied for first in school history in starts and tied for fourth in total games. He started each of the last 49 games at center. Freeman was a two-time finalist for the Remington Trophy, a two-time First-Team All-ACC selection (media), the first Tiger center to do that and a three-time Academic All-ACC selection.

Jay Guillermo (2013-’16): Guillermo was a two-time All-ACC starting center for the Tigers and helped lead Clemson to its first national championship in 35 years last season. He posted 69 knockdowns in 2,552 snaps over 46 games in his career. He had 29 starts. In 2016, he was a First-team All-ACC center as he totaled a team-high 39 knockdown blocks in 1,071 snaps in 15 games. He posted a team-high five knockdowns and graded 93 percent in ACC Championship win over Virginia Tech and a team-high five knockdowns in the Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State. He finished his career in fine fashion with four knockdowns in 99 snaps against Alabama in the National Championship Game. In 2015, he was a second-team All-ACC selection and three-times was named ACC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week, a first for a Clemson lineman since Stacy Long in 1989. He won the Renwick-Flanders Most Improved Player on offense as he had 25 knockdowns in 1,092 snaps over 15 games, including 13 starts.

O.K. Pressley (1926-’28): Pressley was Clemson’s first All-American when he was named to the third team list by Newspaper Enterprise of America, John Heisman and Walter Trumbull. He was the starting center for Josh Cody’s 1926, ’27 and ’28 teams. He was the team captain. He started 25 of the 29 games he played in during his three seasons as a Tiger. He helped lead the Tigers to an 8-3 record in 1928 in which he was named All-American and All-Southern Conference.

Ralph Jenkins (1943-’46): Jenkins was a second-team All-American in 1945 and played in the 1946 Blue-Gray Classic. He was a three-time captain, the first three-time captain in Clemson history. He started the first 27 games of his career. An injury caused him to start only four games in his senior year in 1946.

 

–Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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