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. 4 the best at Clemson.
Fuller, one of the greatest players in Clemson’s rich football history, said he never had any doubts when it came to allowing Deshaun Watson to wear his No. 4 jersey.
Clemson retired Fuller’s No. 4 in 1979, the season following his amazing career at Clemson, in which he won ACC Player of Year honors in back-to-back seasons, a feat unmatched at Clemson until Travis Etienne did the same in 2018 and 2019.
Fuller was a third-team AP All-American and finished No. 6 in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1978 after leading Clemson to an 11-1 record, an ACC Championship and a No. 6 ranking in the final AP Poll, the highest final ranking in Clemson history at the time.
Fuller won the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Award that season and was selected No. 23 overall in the 1979 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
He then became the first player in Clemson football history to have his number retired in 1979, where it stayed until Dabo Swinney came to him with an idea following Watson’s commitment to Clemson in 2013.
“Dabo beat on me for probably three or four years at our golf tournament,” Fuller said in an interview last year.
Fuller explained Watson never asked to wear his retired number. Instead, it was all Swinney’s idea.
“It started out, ‘There is this kid down in Gainesville (Ga.) that is a pretty good player. You probably ought to pay attention to him,’” Fuller recalled of the first mention from Swinney. “I said, ‘Well good, I look forward to that. Hopefully, we get him.’”
The next year, Swinney mentioned to Fuller how a lot of schools where taking old numbers, even numbers that are retired and bringing them back. “It kind of connects the old guys with the new guys,” Swinney said.
Fuller said, “That sounds like an interesting concept.”
Then the following year after Watson committed to Clemson, Swinney wanted to surprise Watson so he asked Fuller if they could bring his number out of retirement.
“I looked him in the eye. I said, ‘I trust you.’ I said, ‘Is he a great kid?’ And he said, ‘He is an unbelievable kid.’ I said, ‘I trust you so let’s do it,’” Fuller recalled.
A week or 10 days later, Fuller got a call from Watson and he thanked him for allowing him to wear his No. 4.
“He was as nice as he can be. He was very respectful, and I knew then it was a good decision before he even played a down,” Fuller said.
Watson went onto to have the greatest career ever by a Clemson quarterback while wearing Fuller’s No. 4 Jersey. He led the Tigers to two ACC Championships, two College Football Playoff appearances, two national championship game appearance and to the 2016 National Championship.
Along the way, he broke most of Clemson’s single-game, single-season and career passing records, while posting a 32-3 record as the starting quarterback. Watson became the first two-time winner of the Davey O’Brien Award, the Manning Award, as the nation’s best quarterback, and was a two-time Finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
The First-Team AP All-American was also named the ACC Player of the Year in 2015. And most importantly, Watson graduated from Clemson in just three and a half years.
“It was fabulous. I never had any doubts,” Fuller said.
A great gift for any Tiger fan. Just one of many great items available from Clemson Variety & Frame