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December 31, 2012
Pregame notes from Atlanta
Permanent Captains Named
Six seniors were named permanent captains for the 2012 season by Clemson head Coach Dabo Swinney today. They will represent the team at the opening coin toss for the game with LSU on Monday.
The six seniors are running back Andre Ellington, wide receiver Jaron Brown, center Dalton Freeman, safety Rashard Hall, safety Jonathan Meeks and cornerback Xavier Brewer. All six are slated to start tonight's game.
In fact, all six have been starters for at least two years, including Freeman and Hall, who have been four-year starters. Ellington and Freeman were both first-team All-ACC selections this year, while Hall was a second-team selection. Freeman was a first-team All-American by the AFCA.
This is the third time in his five years as head coach that Dabo Swinney has had six captains for the course of the season.
Keith Adams Clemson Honorary Captain for Today's Game
Former Clemson All-America linebacker Keith Adams will serve as the Tigers honorary captain for today's Chick-fil-A Bowl game with LSU. Adams played for the Tigers from 1998-2000 and played in the 1999 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Mississippi State.
Adams had 10 tackles, including two tackles for loss for Clemson against Mississippi State in that 1999 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. He was a big reason Clemson held Mississippi State to just 3.7 yards per play, but the Bulldogs came away with a 17-7 victory. Adams also had 10 tackles the next season in the Gator Bowl against West Virginia.
Adams played three years for Clemson before turning professional after his junior year. He is still ninth in school history in total tackles with 379 and is third in tackles for loss with 54 and fourth in sacks with 23. He still holds the single season record for tackles for loss with 35 in 1999 and in sacks with 16 in 1999.
Adams is currently a student-coach with the Tigers as he finishes his degree requirements.
All 13 Seniors Have Degrees
The roster of Clemson players dressed for today's game includes 13 seniors, 11 on scholarship and two walk-ons. All 13 seniors have their undergraduate degrees. This is the first time an entire senior class has their degree in hand entering a bowl game. Classes have had a 100-percent graduation rate, but some of them were earned the following May or August.
Two of the 13, Dalton Freeman and Jaron Brown, actually have two undergraduate degrees apiece. Freeman was a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American and Brown was an All-District selection this year.
Seniors who will play this game with degrees on their academic resume include Spencer Benton, Xavier Brewer, Jaron Brown, Andre Ellington, Brandon Ford, Dalton Freeman, Malliciah Goodman, Rashard Hall, Jonathan Meeks, Bryan Symmes, Sam Van Gieson, Jonathan Willard and Corico Wright.
Special props to Meeks who passed 18 hours this semester to get his degree in three and a half years. He never red-shirted and was the first player Dabo Swinney signed in his first recruiting class in February of 2009.
Overall, Clemson has 87 players dressed in uniform for this game.
Goodman and Ellington Headed to Senior Bowl
Two Clemson players, Malliciah Goodman and Andre Ellington are both slated to play in the Senior Bowl this year. Goodman is a starting defensive end who has 24 tackles this year, including 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He has four caused fumbles, just one short of the Clemson record and tied for seventh in the nation.
Ellington is Clemson's top rusher with 1031 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, Ellington has 3386 rushing yards, fourth best in Clemson history. If he gets 161 yards rushing today he would tie his former teammate C.J. Spiller for third place in Clemson history in career rushing yards. Ellington also has 36 career touchdowns, also fourth best in Clemson history.
The final rosters for the Senior Bowl have not been announced and another Clemson senior could be selected later.
Phillips Honored by Chick-fil-A Bowl
Former Clemson Athletic Director Dr. Terry Don Phillips will be honored by the Chick-fil-A Bowl this evening when he is inducted into the bowl's Hall of Fame. Phillips just retired in November after over 10 years leading the Clemson program. During that time the football program was bowl eligible every year and played in a bowl game every year but one.
Phillips holds the distinction of having given both head coaches in tonight's game their first job as a college head coach. Phillips hired Les Miles as the head coach at Oklahoma State in 2001 when Phillips was the athletic director at Oklahoma State. He then hired Clemson's Dabo Swinney as interim head coach in October of 2008, then made him the full-time head coach on December 1, 2008.
Overall, Phillips has been involved in college athletics for 42 years dating to his days as a football player at Arkansas. He was the recipient of the Bobby Dodd Athletic Director of the Year Award this year.
Phillips is the second person with a connection to be inducted into the Chick-fil-a Bowl Hall of Fame. Terry Kinard, who played in the 1979 game against Baylor, has also been inducted.
Rodriguez Headed to National Championship Game
One Clemson football player is headed to another bowl game. Reserve receiver Daniel Rodriguez will be presented the Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award at the BCS National Championship game on January 7. The presentation will be made during a first-half timeout during the Notre Dame vs. Alabama game at Sun Life Stadium. The award is made by a vote of the Football Writers Association of America.
Rodriguez is a 24-year-old Army veteran who served the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly three combined years. His final tour ended in 2010. He earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor for his heroism during the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009.
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