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My Hatfield/West Era First Team

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Some Dark Days but Also Some Great Players

Syndication: Greenville file, The Greenville News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

zI’m back with the second installment of my all-era teams summer series. This time we look at the 1990-1998 stretch split between coaches Ken Hatfield and Tommy West. I have vivid recollections of this period as it overlapped my high school and undergraduate years. It was tough coming from the expectations of having teams owning the ACC and capable of competing for the national title (and having won the 1981 title) to being second, third, and sometimes fourth or fifth fiddle to ACC newcomer Florida State. It probably took me three to four years to finally accept that the Tigers I knew as a kid were likely gone forever and just finding a way to a Peach Bowl and beating the Gamecocks had to suffice for a good year. However, that era was not devoid of great players and some of my all time favorite Tigers. There just wasn’t enough around them or one side of the ball (usually offense) was a big problem. Anyway, here is my first team offense and defense and as before, feel free to chime in on your differences of opinion if you have them. Affirmations are always welcome as well.

OFFENSE: Hatfield/West era means 23 personnel (2 running backs [with a true fullback], 3 WR). Hatfield’s teams featured a usually strictly blocking tight end but most of West’s did not.

LT: Jim Bundren 1994-1997 (3 year starter, All-ACC, All American 1997, 7th round draft pick)

LG: Jeb Flesch 1988-1991 (3 year starter, All-ACC, All American 1991)

C: Curtis Whitley 1988-1991 (2 year starter, 5th round draft pick, 6 year NFL career)

RG: Stacy Seegars 1990-1993 (3 year starter, 2X All ACC, 2X All American)

RT: Holland Postell 1995-1998 (3 year starter, All ACC)

SE: Tony Horne 1994-1997 (All ACC 1997, 4 year NFL career)

RB: Raymond Priester 1994-1997 (3 time All-ACC, #2 career rushing, single game rushing record of 263 yards, 5th round draft pick) One of my ALL time favorites, not bad for the afterthought of the 1994 running back signing class.

FB: Emory Smith 1993-1996 (3 year starter, delivered the coot drag in 1996)

QB: DeChane Cameron 1989-1991 (2 year starter, only ACC championship during this era and one of just 2 bowl wins)

Flanker: Antwan Wyatt 1993-1995 (2 year starter, 1 being a RB!, and probably the most explosive offensive player of this era).

WR: Terry Smith 1990-1993 (4 year starter! All ACC, about the only guy we had who could beat FSU coverage until Horne)

PK: Chris Gardocki 1988-1990 (3 year starter as a kicker and punter! 2X All American, 3rd round draft pick after declaring early for the NFL).

Notes: Not too many tough calls here. Nealon Greene’s terrible bowl performances kept him behind Cameron in my view. I loved Ronald Williams but Priester was the clear cut RB choice. Will Young got some consideration at guard. Gardocki was a Ford signee but I had to leave him off behind Treadwell on that team so he gets on this one).

DEFENSE: Hatfield/West era means primarily 3-4 defense.

OLB/Bandit: Wayne Simmons 1989-1992 (2 year starter, 1st round draft pick)

DT: Chester McGlockton 1989-1991 (2 year starter, All ACC, 1st round draft pick, multi Pro Bowler)

MG/NG: Rob Bodine 1989-1991 (3 year starter, All American, All ACC, 27 TFL as a 0 tech in 91!)

DT: Brentson Buckner 1990-1993 (3 year starter, 2X All-ACC, 2nd round draft pick)

OLB: Ashley Sheppard 1989-1992 (2 year starter, All-ACC, 4th round draft pick)

ILB: Anthony Simmons 1995-1997 (3 year starter, 3X All ACC, 3X All American, 1st round draft pick) For my money the greatest LB in Clemson history. Would have destroyed the career tackle record with a mark nearly impossible to catch had he not left early for the NFL. Was considered the best player on campus the day he stepped on the field in 95 until he left.

ILB: Tim Jones 1991-1994 (3 year starter, 2X All ACC)

CB: Dexter McCleon 1993-1996 (3 year starter, finished 93 as starting QB!, All ACC, 2 round draft pick)

SS: Brian Dawkins 1992-1995 (3 year starter, 3X All ACC, All American, 2nd round Draft Pick, NFL Hall of Fame!) Terry Kinard is the FS GOAT, Dawkins is the SS GOAT.

FS: Robert O’Neal 1989-1992 (3 year starter, 3X All ACC, 6th round draft pick)

CB: Antuan Edwards 1995-1998 (3 year starter, 2X All ACC, All American, 1st round draft pick)

P: Chris Gardocki (see kicker notes above).

Notes: A few tough calls on this side of the ball as the defensive talent was still pretty strong through the decade. Guys like Adrian Dingle, Rahim Abdullah, and Darnell Stephens got heavy consideration. Trevor Pryce only had 8 games as a Tiger but was a monster. Nelson Welch unfortunately followed Gardocki, perhaps the GOAT kicker in Clemson history. You can see that there were some seriously good players across that period.