The Clemson Tigers rise to national prominence has been spearheaded by a run of great dual threat quarterbacks. They have taken full control over the ACC with the likes of Tajh Boyd, Deshaun Watson, Kelly Bryant, and now Trevor Lawrence under center. Twenty years ago, another dual threat quarterback was about to begin his rise to stardom at Clemson. The dynamic Woodrow Dantzler took over the starting job during the 1999 season, and the Tigers’ record books were never the same again. In 2001, he became the first quarterback in college football history over 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing in the same season.
Legends Series: Clemson Play-Maker Woodrow Dantzler
South Carolina Grown
Before he donned the paw on the side of his helmet, he was terrorizing South Carolina high school defenses. Woodrow Dantzler starred for Orangeburg-Wilkinson in the late 90’s. Much like he would do later in college, he threw the ball all over the field, and dazzled with the football in his hands. Clemson teammate Jackie Robinson helped him form an explosive duo at the high school level. Dantzler finished his prep career with over 10,000 total yards and 60 passing touchdowns. As a senior he was named SuperPrep All-American, All-State, All-Region, and District Player of the Year. He chose the Tigers over South Carolina and LSU.
After only appearing in five games as a red-shirt-freshman, Woodrow Dantzler finally began to get a chance to shine as a sophomore. He split time with time with senior Brandon Streeter for part of the season, before taking the lead role as the season wore on. Clemson won three of its final four contests after the switch behind center. The Orangeburg native led the team in passing yards and touchdowns, while finishing second on the team in rushing yards. Danztler even caught two passes just to showcase all the ways he could hurt a defense.
Play Maker Unleashed
In the 2000 season, the junior signal caller would help lead the Tigers to their first nine win season since 1993. Dantzler teamed with wide-out Rod Gardner to elevate the Clemson passing attack. The Tigers spread offense was difficult to contain, averaging over 436 yards and 34 points a game. Danztler was such a dynamic player. When he got going, he would take over ball games single-handedly. He had a mid-season stretch of four straight games with over 100 yards on the ground and 300 yards total. Included in that dominant stretch was a 220 yard rushing game, and he accounted for 13 scores. If not for a late season ankle injury slowing him down, he could have set his national record as a junior.
While the team results fell off during his senior year, Dantzler’s play reached new heights. He became a much more polished passer, as he showed complete control of coach Tommy Bowden’s offense. In one of best performances in school history, he threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns while also gaining 184 with his legs in a win at N.C. State. He had five games with at least 200 yards through the air and 100 on the ground. The Clemson quarterback had become one of the most explosive players in the nation.
His improvement as a passer was evident by his ability to spread the ball around. The Tigers had five different payers with between 300 and 600 yards receiving. As Dantzler became more consistent throwing, it made his ability with his legs even harder to stop. He averaged five yards a carry while leading the Tigers in attempts, yards, and touchdowns. In his final game, Dantzler threw four touchdown passes in a Humanitarian Bowl victory over Louisiana Tech.
By the time he left Clemson, Dantzler had amassed 5,600 yards with his arm, and 2,600 more with his legs. At the time he was only the third player in NCAA history to do so. He was a dynamic and entertaining a player as the ACC had ever seen. After accounting for 63 total touchdowns as a Tiger, he went un-drafted by the NFL. He did sign as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys as a running back.
The former Clemson star was never able to catch on in the NFL, but did provide fans with one of the most memorable plays of the 2002 season. Dantzler received the kickoff from the 49ers, and after running into a blocker he then spun out of a four man scrum. As he broke to the sideline, he stiff armed the kicker, then tight roped the sideline with a one legged hop before breaking away from the pack. The 84 yard touchdown was his only score in the NFL. His time as pro may have been short lived, but he still managed to leave his mark as he did so often in the orange of the Clemson Tigers.