Clemson football: 5 most underrated players in Clemson Tigers history

Artavis Scott, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Artavis Scott, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Levon Kirkland, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Clemson football has had plenty of underrated players over the years.

It wasn’t that long ago that Clemson football was just another run-of-the-mill ACC team.

Clemson had been a phenomenal program under Danny Ford’s guidance decades prior, but the Tigers rarely struck fear in the eyes of the opposition during the 1990s and 2000s. Though they would win a bunch of games, Clemson used to always find a way to lose that one game it could never afford to. Back in the day, we used to refer to that heinous act as Clemson-ing.

Related Story. 5 best seasons in Clemson football history. light

Well, Clemson-ing no more. In the 2010s, former wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney has turned this ACC football program into an undeniable national power. The Tigers are the preeminent football team in the sport. Clemson has played in the last five College Football Playoffs and is expected to win the ACC for the sixth year in a row to get to the national semifinals yet again.

Under Swinney, Clemson has produced one blue-chip prospect after another. If a guy played wide receiver for the Tigers or in the trenches, there’s a good chance he’s going to end up getting drafted by one of the 32 franchises that make up the NFL. Now with Trevor Lawrence asserting himself as the best player in college football, maybe Clemson gets a Heisman Trophy winner?

Despite all their recent success, Clemson has still had plenty of underrated players in its history. A handful like Brian Dawkins went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, while others quickly faded after their days at Clemson came to an end. Who are the most underrated players in Clemson football history? Let’s find out now.

Here are the five most underrated players in Clemson football history.

LB. (1987-91). Levon Kirkland. player. 879. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 5

Levon Kirkland has built quite the football life for himself. He is in his sixth season as the outside linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Kirkland played in 11 NFL seasons, primarily with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he made two All-Pro teams and earned a spot on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. But before any of that was possible, he was an underrecruited player at Clemson.

Kirkland didn’t gain a lot of attention outside of his native South Carolina as a high school prospect. He redshirted his freshman year at Clemson in 1987. This helped him be a part of two ACC Championship teams during his college career, as well as earning First-Team All-American honors in 1991.

Kirkland was a huge inside linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 275 pounds. Despite his giant frame, he was a fast player and an adept tackler, making an impact on the field no matter what level he was playing at. Last college football season, Kirkland earned his spot on the Clemson Ring of Honor. No former Tigers standout had been honored as such since 2001.

What makes Kirkland a bit underrated here is he was synonymous with winning as a player. Clemson finished ranked inside of the AP Top 25 in four of his seasons. Though the Steelers never won a Super Bowl in the nine years he played for them, they did get to one and were one of the most competitive teams in the AFC under future Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Cowher.