Before Watson and Lawrence, there was Homer Jordan

Before Watson and Lawrence, there was Homer Jordan

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Before Watson and Lawrence, there was Homer Jordan

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Through the years, Clemson Football has had countless All-Americans and All-Conference players to help it become one of college football’s best programs.

With that said, who wore their number the best? Clemson has retired just three numbers it is proud history. Steve Fuller’s No. 4, C.J. Spiller’s No. 28 and Banks McFadden’s No. 66. However, the Tigers have had many decorated players wear those numbers and more.

Who wore what number the best? We continue our series with who wore No. 3 the best at Clemson.

Some will argue, and it would be a good argument, that no one wore the No. 3 jersey at Clemson better than former defensive end Vic Beasley. After all, Beasley was a two-time consensus All-American in 2013 and ’14. He also owns the Clemson record for sacks in a career with 33.

Some might argue for former wide receiver Artavis Scott, who was a First-Team All-ACC receiver in 2015 and was named to the ACC-ACC Football team three times in his lustrous career, which includes holding the school record for receptions with 245. He also helped the Tigers win a national championship in 2016.

And though those would be good arguments, the guy who wore No. 3 better than anyone in Clemson history has to be former quarterback Homer Jordan.

Until Deshaun Watson did it in 2016, Jordan was the only Clemson quarterback to lead his team to a national championship in 1981. Trevor Lawrence, of course, led the Tigers to the 2018 national championship.

The 1981 All-ACC First-Team quarterback led the Tigers to a perfect 12-0 record, which they capped with a 22-15 victory over No. 4 Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl. 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.

Clemson beat three teams that finished ranked inside the top 10 in 1981 in Georgia, North Carolina and Nebraska. The Tigers were the only team in the country to beat three opponents ranked inside the top 10 in 1981.

And yes, Jordan and the Clemson offense leaned on a great defense led by First-Team All-American Jeff Davis. However, when he had to, Jordan came through in the clutch in the biggest of games that season. No more than in the Orange Bowl when he used his arm and his feet to earn MVP honors in the Orange Bowl.

Jordan threw for 134 yards and ran for 46 more, including a masterful 23-yard run on third down-and-four from the Clemson 37 late in the fourth quarter. The run came with 1:43 on the clock, forcing Nebraska to use its final timeout of the game. The Tigers ran the clock down to six seconds before turning the ball over on downs to the Cornhuskers.

After the game, Jordan was so dehydrated and exhausted he did not speak with the media until the next morning. He later said he tried to sit down at his locker after the game, but he got really shaky. The doctors put him to bed after they got back to the team hotel and he was unable to celebrate with the rest of the team.

But Jordan has been celebrating as one of Clemson’s all-time greats ever since. The Athens, Ga., native finished his Clemson career with a 23-6-1 record as a starter. He helped lead the Tigers to a second straight ACC Championship in 1982, as they finished that season 9-1-1 and ranked No. 8 in the final AP Poll.

In his last 20 starts, Jordan led Clemson to an 18-1-1 record.

file photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications

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