Best Clemson football players: Modern-era Mount Rushmore

Clemson football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Clemson football (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Best Clemson football players
Clemson football (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images) /

The best Clemson football players, including Deshaun Watson and Christian Wilkins, make up half of the Clemson modern-era Mount Rushmore.

Though Clemson football captured a National Championship in 1981, the Tigers have enjoyed unquestionably the greatest run of success in the history of the program since Dabo Swinney took over as head coach. Since he became head coach midway through the 2008 season, Clemson has seen an absolutely unprecedented amount of success and become one of the perennial powerhouses in college football.

Over that span, Swinney has posted a 130-31 record with the Tigers while capturing two of the three National Championships in program history as well as playing in two other title games as well. Furthermore, Clemson football has been a part of the last five College Football Playoffs.

With the run that Swinney has led in Death Valley, he couldn’t have done that without bringing in some elite talent. And rest assured, he’s done that better than anyone in the history of the program. So it should be no surprise that, when trying to make up the Clemson football Mount Rushmore, it’s heavy on players from the Swinney era.

So starting with a handful of honorable mentions who just missed out, let’s see which four Tigers make it onto the Mount Rushmore for the modern era of Clemson football.

Though his career still has one more year at Clemson, Travis Etienne has established himself already as the most productive running back in the history of the Tigers. Etienne is the career leader at Clemson in rushing yards (4,038) and rushing touchdowns (56) and will only further increase his lead when he returns for the 2020 season.

For me, Sammy Watkins might’ve been the toughest exclusion from the Clemson football modern-era Mount Rushmore. The school leader in career receiving yards (3,391) and tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (27), Watkins’ three years with the Tigers is the most dynamic run of any pass-catcher in the history of the Tigers.

William Perry, better known as The Refrigerator, is one of the biggest figures in the history of Clemson — quite literally. A starter for the 1981 national champions, Perry was the first three-time All-American in the history of the Tigers and is fourth all-time in program history in career sacks with 25.