The last decade has been a dreamland for Clemson Tiger fans, with a run of success that like few programs have had. The run started in 2011 when the Tigers won their first ACC Title in 20 years. What seemed like a benchmark at the time soon became just a stepping stone to even greater heights. They have won the last five conference crowns from 2015-19, and have participated in the College Football Playoff in each of those seasons. This run includes two national titles. There has been an abundance of star playmakers in orange and purple over the last ten seasons. The Clemson All-Decade offense is a list of some of the best players in school and conference history.
Clemson All-Decade Offense
The level of greatness this program has achieved over the past 10 seasons has led to a rewriting of the school’s record books. From passing to rushing to receiving, the current record holders in all three categories all made their mark since 2010. The Clemson All-Decade offense would be close to unstoppable with all the weapons at its disposal.
Rising Junior Trevor Lawrence has just one loss in two years under center for the Tigers. If you were to build a quarterback in a lab, there is a high likelihood that the creation would look like the Georgia native. His combination of size, athleticism, and arm talent has had NFL scouts drooling over his potential since he was in high school. Somehow, despite Lawrence being the prototype quarterback, Deshaun Watson would get the nod to lead the Clemson All-Decade offense.
Watson just had that “it factor” you hear about so much. Of course, he is plenty talented as well, but it was his poise, confidence, and demeanor that separated him from other elite talents. He led the Tigers to their first national title since 1981 with his heroic performance in the 2016 College Football Playoff Title game. He threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner on the final play. Watson had back to back 4,000-yard seasons, the two highest single-season totals in school history. Tajh Boyd is the school’s All-Time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, and he is a distant third on this particular depth chart. That shows you just how loaded this program has been since 2010.
Tailbacks Andre Ellington and Wayne Gallman are both in the top six for the Tigers’ in career rushing yards. They each moved on to play on Sundays after stellar careers in orange and purple. Once again due to the sheer amount of talent this program has seen making plays recently, they would be fighting each other for the backup role behind the explosive Travis Etienne.
The Louisiana native surprised many when he decided to return for his senior year in the upcoming 2020 season. He broke the school’s career rushing record as a junior, passing the great Raymond Priester near the end of the season. He will put that record completely out of reach this fall. Etienne is a touchdown threat each time he touches the ball, averaging an absurd eight yards per carry for his career.
Honestly, the list of wide receivers deserving of a spot on the Clemson All-Decade offense could reach double digits. That is how loaded they have been over there the past ten seasons. Players like Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins, Artavis Scott, and Mike Williams all had big-time careers at Clemson. Each can lay claim to some spectacular plays, huge statistical accomplishments, and big moments for the Tigers. However, they would all be coming off the bench on this team. The pairing of Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins are the clear cut choices to grab the starting spots at receiver.
The former teammates are ranked as the top two in the Tiger’s record books for yards and touchdowns. This is both for a single season and a career. Hopkins was a one on one nightmare for cornerbacks. He has the size, hands, and catch radius that few players can match. His 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012 is probably the best individual season in school history. Watkins was a highlight waiting to happen from the moment he stepped on campus. He introduced himself to the college football world with his monster game against Auburn as a freshman. Then he capped his career with a school record 227 yards in an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State in his final collegiate game.
Hunter Renfrow steps in at the slot position on this offense. Clemson’s Mr. Clutch always seemed to make the crucial play when it was needed. It seemed like every catch he made during his four years on campus was either a first down or a touchdown. Renfrow’s most famous grab was the aforementioned game-winner from Watson to beat Alabama and win the national title. Jordan Leggett is the clear choice at tight end. He finished his career with 112 catches, 1600 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
Two times All-American tackle Mitch Hyatt anchors the offensive line on the Clemson All-Decade offense. He left the Tigers as the school’s career leader in snaps played and starts. Eric McClain would line up at the other tackle spot. He was a converted tight end, and at the time he left Clemson, he was the school’s all-time leader with 43 wins.
The versatile Brandon Thomas gets one of the guard spots. The Spartanburg native was known for his outstanding footwork. He was a two-time All-ACC selection as a player and on the Academic Honor Roll. John Simpson would slot in at the other guard position. Simpson was also an All-American and could be the highest-drafted Clemson offensive lineman in a very long time. Justin Falcinelli gets the nod at center. He was a Honorable mention All-American selection as a junior, and 2nd team All-ACC as a senior.
Looking back at all the talent to come to campus in upstate South Carolina over the past ten years, it’s not a surprise to see this program’s rise to an elite level. Go ahead and try to build a defense to stop this offense. See how well that works out.
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