Elite 11: Clemson’s best quarterbacks of all-time

Elite 11: Clemson’s best quarterbacks of all-time

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Elite 11: Clemson’s best quarterbacks of all-time

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Who are the best players in Clemson history? How do you judge it? Do you go by statistics, wins, championships or all of the above?

It is all subjective. We each have are own opinions on such.

By the way, I decided to put current players on my list because it’s hard to keep a guy like Travis Etienne, who has already broken just about every rushing record in Clemson history, off a list that is considered to be the best of all-time.

So, who would be your best player of all-time?

I have my answers and today I begin with my list of the best quarterbacks in Clemson history. I’m sure a lot of you will agree and some of you might not, but here is my attempt at it.

We will start our list by ranking the 11 best quarterbacks from 11-1. Clemson’s Elite 11, if you will.

11 Mike Eppley (1981-’84): Eppley is perhaps one of the most underrated quarterbacks in Clemson history. He ranks 14th all-time in career passing yards (3,354), despite playing an era when the Tigers did not throw the football too much. After stepping in for an injured Homer Jordan in 1982, Eppley became Clemson’s starting quarterback for the 1983 and 1984 seasons. He compiled a 20-5-1 record and was the First-Team All-ACC quarterback in 1984. Clemson’s 1983 team went 7-0 in ACC play and would have won the ACC if it were not for being on probation. The Tigers finished 1983 with a 9-1-1 record and No. 11 in the final AP Poll. Eppley led the nation in passing efficiency with a 145.9 rating. He threw for 1,410 yards, while completing 59.6 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns. His career completion percentage (56.1) ranks 14th all-time. He ranks 12th all-time in yards per attempt (7.47) and he is ninth in school history in touchdown passes (28) Eppley was also a great overall athlete. He was a three-year starter at guard on Clemson’s basketball team from 1981-’84.

10 Kyle Parker (2009-’10): Like Eppley, Parker was a great athlete. He as an All-American on the Clemson baseball team where he became a first-round draft pick in the 2010 Major League. He helped lead Clemson to the 2010 College World Series, where they finished third. On the football field, Parker led the Tigers to their first ACC Championship Game appearance in 2009 and a No. 24 ranking in the final AP Poll. He is the first athlete in NCAA history to throw for 20 touchdowns and hit 20 home runs in the same academic year. In 2009, as a redshirt freshman, he threw 20 touchdown passes while throwing for 2,556 yards. Parker ranks seventh in Clemson history in touchdown passes (32) despite playing just two seasons. He ranks 12th all-time in interception avoidance and 13th in completion percentage (56.5). He is eighth all-time in passing yards (4,739) and completions (401) and ninth in attempts (710).

9 DeChane Cameron (1988-’91): Also, like Eppley, Cameron is a very underrated quarterback in Clemson history. First off, he was a winner. He was 19-4-1 as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. He led Clemson to the 1991 ACC Championship, which included a 6-0-1 record in conference play. He never lost a home game as the starting quarterback, going 12-0-1 at Death Valley. He rushed for a combined 819 yards and nine touchdowns in his two seasons as the starter. He currently ranks 16th in Clemson history in passing yards (3,300), 15th in completions (257), 15th in completion percentage (54.7) and 10th in interception avoidance. He led Clemson to a 10-2 record in 1990 and a No. 9 ranking in the final AP Poll. He was named the MVP of the Hall of Fame Bowl following Clemson’s 30-0 win over Illinois. In 1991, he led the Tigers to a 9-2-1 record and a No. 18 ranking in the final AP Poll.

Woodrow Dantzler had a lot of success at Clemson (1998-2001) as he set countless records during his four seasons in Tigertown. He was the first Division 1 quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000 in the same season. (File Photo)

8 Woody Dantzler (1998-’01): Dantzler was the first quarterback in Division I history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, which he officially did in 2001. He also did it in 2000, but he went over 1,000 yards rushing in the bowl game, which the NCAA did not officially keep at the time. A Heisman Trophy candidate during his career, Dantzler set all sorts of Clemson records for a single game, season and career. He is best remembered for his back-to-back games in 2001 against Georgia Tech and NC State. He had over 400 total yards in a win at Georgia Tech when he threw for more than 250 yards and rushed for 180, while scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime. The next week, he totaled a then Clemson record 517 yards, breaking his own record from the previous week, in a win over NC State. He also had six total touchdowns in the game, while rushing for 184 yards and throwing for 333. Dantzler ranks 9th in Clemson history in rushing yards (2,761), the only quarterback ranked in the top 15. He 27 rushing touchdowns, rank tied for 10th all-time in Clemson history. As a passer, he ranks fifth in passing yards (6,037), seventh in passing attempts (796), sixth in completions (460), ninth in completion percentage (57.8), 11th in passing yards per attempt (7.58), sixth in touchdown passes (41) and ninth in interception avoidance (3.02 percent). He also ranks seventh in passing efficiency (132.5). He also led the Tigers to a 9-3 record and a No. 16 final ranking in the final AP Poll in 2000. He was the first-team All-ACC quarterback in 2001.

7 Rodney Williams (1985-’88): Williams is probably the least flashy player on this list, but until Tajh Boyd came around, he was Clemson’s all-time winningest quarterback. Williams went 32-10-2 as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, including leading the Tigers to three straight ACC Championships from 1986-’88. The only Clemson quarterback who can make that claim. The 1986 Tigers went 8-2-2 and finished No. 17 in the final AP Poll, while the 1987 and ’88 Tigers both went 10-2. The 1987 team finished No. 12 in the final AP Poll, while the 1988 squad was ranked No. 9. Williams currently ranks 9th all-time in career passing yards (4,647), eight in attempts (717) and ninth in completions (333). He also ran for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.

6 Charlie Whitehurst (2002-’05): Whitehurst did not lead the Tigers to any championships, but he did do something no quarterback on either side of the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry has ever done. He went 4-0 against his rival. Whitehurst was 4-0 against the Gamecocks, but that is not what puts him on this list of all-time best Clemson QBs. He led Clemson to a great finish to the 2003 season (9-4 overall), which included wins over No. 3 Florida State and No. 6 Tennessee. The Tigers finished No. 22 that year in the final AP Poll. Clemson went 8-4 his senior year and finished No. 21 in the final rankings. Whitehurst was voted as second-team All-ACC quarterback that season. He currently ranks third in Clemson history in passing yards (9,665), second in attempts (1,368), second in completions (817), seventh in completion percentage (59.7), fourth in passing touchdowns (49), 15th in interception avoidance and 14th (3.36)in passing efficiency (124.2).

5 Homer Jordan (1979-’82): Jordan was well ahead of his time. He could run and throw the ball with the best of them. He had a rocket for an arm and ranks ninth all-time in Clemson history for passing yards per attempt at 7.61. Jordan was a winner, too. He led the Tigers to their first national championship in 1981 and was the first-team All-ACC quarterback that year. Overall, Jordan was 23-6-1 as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. He led Clemson to back-to-back ACC Championships in 1981 and 1982. The 1982 Tigers won their last nine games of the season and finished No. 8 in the final AP Poll. Jordan still ranks 12th in Clemson history in passing attempts (479). During the 1981 season, in which he led the Tigers to a perfect 12-0 season, he was second on the Clemson team with 372 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. He also threw for 1,311 yards and four more scores. He only played in seven games in 1982 due to an injury, but the Tigers were 5-1-1 in those seven games.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd still holds four of the major passing records at Clemson and is the ACC record holder for total career touchdowns. (File photo/The Clemson Insider)

4 Tajh Boyd (2010-’13): Boyd destroyed all of Clemson’s passing records in his four years at Clemson, while kick starting the greatest run in Clemson history. A three-time All-ACC Player, Boyd led the Tigers to their first ACC Championship in 20 years in 2011, while also earning ACC Championship Game MVP honors. He was 32-8 as the starting quarterback in his career as well as the 2012 ACC Player of the Year, the first Clemson quarterback to do so since Fuller in 1978. His 32 all-time wins are tied with Williams and Deshaun Watson for the most in Clemson history. Boyd was also the first Clemson quarterback in history to earn First-Team All-American honors. On the field, he finished second in ACC history with 11,904 passing yards (still a Clemson record) and set a new ACC record with 107 touchdown passes (still a Clemson record). He also ran for 26 touchdowns, making his 133 total touchdowns an ACC record for a career as well. Boyd had perhaps the greatest game in ACC history when he totaled an ACC-record 8 total touchdowns while throwing for 426 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns in a win over NC State in 2012. His 529 total yards that afternoon was a Clemson record for a single game at the time.

3 Trevor Lawrence (2018-present): Lawrence, obviously, will have a chance to move up on this list and could possibly break most of Boyd’s and Watson’s records when it is all said and done. In his two years to this point, Lawrence is 25-1 as Clemson’s starting quarterback. He led the Tigers to a national championship in 2018, the first team since 1897 to post a perfect 15-0 record. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year that season. He followed that up by leading the Tigers back to the national championship game and a 14-1 record. He earned first-team All-ACC status as well. He has already moved into the top 4 in Clemson history in passing yards, sixth in attempts, fourth in completions, fourth in completion percentage, fifth in yards per attempt, third in touchdown passes and first in interception avoidance and passing efficiency.

2 Steve Fuller (1975-’78): Fuller not only started the Tigers on one of the greatest eras in the program’s history in 1977 and ’78, but he also was one of the greatest offensive players the school had ever seen. Before Travis Etienne, Fuller was the last Clemson player to win the ACC Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. He revitalized the program in 1977 while leading Clemson to an 8-3-1 record and then in 1978 he led the Tigers to an 11-1 mark, which included an ACC Championship and No. 6 final national ranking, the highest ever for the program at the time. On the field he was a dual-threat quarterback who earned All-American honors in 1978 and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy race. He still ranks in Clemson’s top 10 in passing yards, is 11th in passing attempts and ranks 13th in completions. He also ranks 12th in career touchdown passes. Fuller’s No. 4 was retired in 1979. He was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1979 NFL Draft.

1 Deshaun Watson (2014-’16): In just three years, Watson became the greatest quarterback Clemson had ever seen. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 2015 and finished as a finalist in the Heisman Trophy race in 2015 and ’16. He holds several game, season and career records at Clemson. He threw for a record 580 yards against Pittsburgh in 2016. His 588 total yards that afternoon is also a Clemson record. He is the first two-time All-American quarterback in Clemson history as he took the Tigers to the national championship game in 2015 and 2016, including winning it all in 2016. He was 32-3 as a starting quarterback in his Clemson career, while throwing for 10,163 yards. He also threw 90 touchdowns and ran for another 26. His 4,593 yards in 2016 broke his own passing record of 4,104 yards in 2015. His 41 touchdown passes in 2016 is a Clemson and ACC record, as is his 50 total touchdowns that season. Watson completed 67.4 percent of his passes in his Clemson career, which is the current career record. He was a first-round pick of the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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