Teenager decides FC Dallas contract is better than kicking for his godfather Dabo

Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Home is where the heart is, as FC Dallas homegrown product Tanner Tessmann opts to bypass kicking for the Clemson Tigers’ and his godfather Dabo Swinney in college to go pro.

Turns out kicking field goals as a student-athlete for Dabo Swinney isn’t more appealing than staying home and getting paid as a professional, at least not for Dallas native and Swinney’s godson Tanner Tessmann.

According to Buzz Carrick of 3rd Degree, Tessmann has signed a homegrown contract to play for FC Dallas. The midfielder initially committed to Clemson University to be a two-sport athlete, which included kicking field goals for Swinney on the ACC powerhouse football team.

Swinney said on Dec. 19 after Tessmann’s commitment, “hopefully he will have the opportunity to win national championships in two sports at Clemson before he gets out of here.” Well, Tessmann got out of there without playing a single game on the gridiron or a match on the pitch.

But Tessmann’s got nothing personal against the Clemson coach, far from it in fact, as Scott Keepfer of the Greenville News reports that Tessmann “is Swinney’s godson” and “Tessmann’s father, P.J., is a longtime friend of Swinney’s and runs the coach’s All-In Foundation.”

Tessmann has played on FC Dallas’ academy team since he was 14 and has been a member the United States’ U20 team. While his professional career is now firmly in soccer, did he make the right decision to pass up playing college football and soccer at Clemson to sign with FC Dallas?

From a soccer standpoint, signing with your hometown club has to be difficult to pass up. Clemson has a great history in men’s soccer, especially of late under head coach Mike Noonan. However, Clemson hasn’t won a national title on the pitch since 1987, so that could be a factor. Then again, FC Dallas has never won MLS Cup, despite being a founding club in 1996. How’s that possible?

Turning pro on the pitch makes more sense than to play for free at Clemson. If Tessmann dominated the ACC, he’s not guaranteed to end up on FC Dallas, as he would be thrust into the MLS SuperDraft. He could go to a much worse organization than his hometown team, so you can’t really blame him for skipping the multi-year process to get paid from a club he knows very well.

However, from a football standpoint, he could end up regretting not kicking field goals for Swinney. He is the best head coach Clemson football has ever had. He’s eclipsed whatever Frank Howard and Danny Ford did before him. Clemson is in its golden age as a college football program and Tessmann is walking away from being part of continued greatness.

In the College Football Playoff era, Clemson is almost a lock to win the ACC annually and get to the final four. Clemson has made the playoff the last five years. The Tigers have played in four national championships, winning it all in 2016 and 2018. They are the favorites heading into 2020 with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne returning on offense.

Perhaps Tessmann is a better midfielder than a placekicker? That’s fine and all, but he could have been a legend in Clemson with a few unforgettable field goals in big moments. He’d make the Clemson fans forget all about Chandler Catanzaro if he drilled a 45-yard field goal to beat an SEC team in a College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

If Tessmann could find his inner Roberto Aguayo or Rodrigo Blankenship, maybe he could have been taken in the 2024 NFL Draft as a kicker?

While it’s totally understandable for Tessmann’s heart to be in Dallas, he could have won a national title on the gridiron playing under Swinney, maybe even helped Noonan to a national championship on the pitch as well? Oh, what could have been…

Then again, let’s not shut the doors on his NFL dreams just yet,. If things don’t work out with soccer he could still follow the path of Josh Lambo, who went from FC Dallas to kicking in the NFL.

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