A program with a long, rich history, Clemson has seen a lot of great teams with a lot of incredible talent over the years as the program has developed into a marquee name in college football.
As our all-time rosters wind down, the final part is a look at the best of the best special teams players and the coaches that have been a part of Clemson football.
From one of the most exciting special teams players in ACC history in C.J. Spiller to a pair of national championship-winning head coaches, the Tigers have seen incredible success from both the special teams unit and the coaches that helped make the program so special.
Here’s a look at our choices for the special teams starters and the coaches on Clemson football’s all-time roster.
Check out our other College Wire all-time lineups: Alabama / Arkansas / Auburn / Colorado / Florida / Georgia / Iowa / LSU / Michigan / Nebraska / North Carolina / Ohio State / Oklahoma / Oregon / Penn State / Rutgers / Tennessee / Texas / Texas A&M / USC / Wisconsin
Starting Kicker: David Treadwell
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Known as “Mr. Clutch” at Clemson, Treadwell won or tied a game for the Tigers with a field goal on six different occasions. He was consensus first team All-American in 1987, connecting on 18 of 22 field goals.
Backup Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro
Catanzaro was great for Clemson, hitting 67 of 82 field goals during his time with the team. He record 404 points for the Tigers in his career.
Starting Punter: Chris Gardocki
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Before becoming an All-Pro punter and winning a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gardocki was one of the best kickers and punters in Clemson’s history. He had a career 43.5 average yards per punt, with only one punt being blocked in his entire Clemson career.
Backup Punter: Dale Hatcher
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With a net punting average of 41.0 yards, Hatcher didn’t allow returner do get anything going. Hatcher was incredible at landing punts inside the 20.
Starting Returner: C.J. Spiller
Spiller is one of the most exciting players in Clemson football history, and a lot of that excitement came from special teams. Though he shared returning duties with another one of Clemson’s best return men of all time, Jacoby Ford, Spiller still managed to score eight career touchdowns through punt and kick returns. Five of which came in his senior year.
Backup Returner: Justin Miller
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Miller had had 1,534 yards on 50 returns and scored three touchdowns as a kick returner for the Tigers. His best performance came against Florida State in 2004, taking six returns for 282 yards and two touchdowns.
Starting Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
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Developing into one of the best head coaches in college football history, Dabo Swinney is far and away the best head coach Clemson has ever had. Since taking over for the Tigers back in 2008, Clemson has become a perennial powerhouse across the college football landscape. In his time at Clemson, Swinney has a 150-36 (.806) in 14 seasons (13 full seasons), a 91-19 (.826) in ACC regular-season games, a 7-1 (.875) in ACC Championship Games, and an 11-7 (.611) record in bowl games. Swinney has led the Tigers to four national championship appearances, winning the 2017 and 2019 College Football Playoff National Championships. Swinney is a player’s coach and does an incredible job developing talent.
Backup Head Coach: Danny Ford
When mentioning Clemson football, it is difficult to leave Danny Ford out of the conversation. Ford changed the program forever after taking over the Tigers at just 30 years old. He led Clemson to their first national championship win in 1981 while being awarded National Coach of the Year. As head coach of Clemson for eleven seasons, Ford also added five ACC championships while boasting a winning percentage of .760.
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Elliott
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Elliott might be the most valuable of all the offensive coordinators to come through Clemson. He had a crucial role as a co-offensive coordinator for Swinney’s Tigers, being the team’s primary play-caller. Elliott helped Clemson bring home two national championships calling plays. He is now the head coach the University of Virginia.
Defensive Coordinator: Brent Venables
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When talking about the pure aspect of coaching, you could make the argument that Venables is the best coach to ever come through Clemson. Though the offensive talent that has come through Clemson has been incredible in its own right, so many of the Tigers’ best teams of the past decade are well known for how incredibly good their defenses were. If you don’t know how good Clemson’s defensive performances have been over the past decade, take a look. Venables is imprinted all over it. He was rewarded for his excellent coaching in 2016 when he won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach. Venables recently departed to return to Oklahoma, taking over as their new head coach.
First Assistant Coach: Danny Ford
Before he was Clemson’s head coach, Ford was a top tier offensive line coach as well as recruiter.
Second Assistant Coach: Dabo Swinney
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Similar to Ford, Swinney got his start as an assistant. There’s a reason Clemson is considered a real contender as the true “Wide Receiver University’. Also similar to Ford, Dabo was an elite recruiter for the Tigers.
Third Assistant Coach: Jeff Scott
It is difficult to mention Tony Elliott’s tenure as Clemson co-offensive coordinator without mentioning Jeff Scott. The two shared the offensive coordinator role, which is a rarity in college football. IT’s safe to say things went well, as Scott was a major part of Clemson’s national championship runs. He is currently the head coach of the University of South Florida.
Fourth Assistant Coach: Woody McCorvey
Though his name isn’t well known outside of Clemson, Woody McCorvey is a legend. Being a significant part of the two greatest eras in Clemson football, McCorvey was a major influence during the Ford era and now during the Swinney era. Swinney has a 46-33 record as head coach since McCorvey joined his staff. He has worked with three Hall of Fame coaches in his career.