Clemson was blessed with some high-end talent at the running back position during the Ford era. Guys like Cliff Austin, Kenny Flowers, Terrence Flagler, and Terry Allen posted at least one huge season as the feature back to the power option attack the Tigers employed. Sometimes lost in the memories of those days are some of the complimentary players who were studs in their own right and often sacrificed the lime light for the greater good of the program.
One such player was Wesley McFadden, who came to Clemson after tearing up the state at Lewisville High School. McFadden spent a year experimenting at defensive back before making the move to running back in 1987. He and Terry Allen shared the spotlight for most of that season, and McFadden had a landmark game at Virginia Tech that season ripping the Hokies for over 200 yards. However, by season's end, Allen had established himself as the first option guy and had a big game against Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.
I found a cool article about McFadden before that bowl game that talks about his early times at Clemson you can find here.
By the time 1989 rolled around, Terry Allen was an established star in the Tiger backfield and talented guys like Joe Henderson were on the roster as backups. With stud fullbacks Tracy Johnson and Chris Lancaster no longer around, McFadden made the unselfish move to fullback. Even with long time backup Chris Morocco at quarterback, many argue the 1989 Clemson team might have been the best Tiger team, top to bottom, ever. This was the team that throttled FSU in Tallahassee and completely embarrassed USCjr. in Willie Brice. A quirky, rainy day in Durham when the Tigers fumbled three interceptions back to Duke and a head scratching no show at home against GT derailed what probably should have been a national title contending season. A big part of that team's success was McFadden doing the dirty work inside as the fullback, which gave Clemson the flexibility to feature him in the passing game a little due to his great running skills.
Here McFadden plays out the dive fake on the option where Henderson breaks it long, but notice at the end of the run that McFadden had gotten back up and hustled down the field still searching for blocks.
With the 2015 season approaching, Clemson finds itself with a crowded stable of running backs. While the offense is very different than the one Clemson ran in the 80s, there might be the need for one of the guys to take an unselfish role like McFadden did to help the team reach its lofty goals. These types of guys are essential to the program!