Stadium: Memorial Stadium (Clemson, SC)
Referred to as “Death Valley,” the atmosphere and traditions at Memorial Stadium give the Clemson Tigers a consistent home-field advantage. It serves as home to many Clemson Tiger legends and represents a difficult road trip for many opposing teams.
What is Memorial Stadium known for?
Maybe the most unique team entrance in college football is the Tigers’ run down a hill into the east side of the field. According to the official Clemson University Athletics website, this practice dates back to the stadium’s early years, where players would literally use the downhill jog as a warm-up exercise upon arrival to the game. The jog has been in use since the 1942 season, and now features the team riding buses around the stadium to be transported to the hill.
On the same hill which the team enters sits Howard’s Rock. The rock was brought in 1964 from Death Valley, California by a member of Clemson’s Class of 1919. Forgotten about in a closet for years, Head Coach Frank Howard demanded that it be removed and to “just do something with it.” Since it was placed on the hill and Clemson got a win in 1967, it has been there ever since.
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback (Years at Clemson: 2014-2017)
The exciting quarterback drafted 12th overall by the Houston Texans in the 2017 Draft was likely on his way to an AFC Rookie of the Year campaign until tearing his ACL in practice. While at Clemson, Watson led the Tigers to a National Championship over Alabama in 2016-17, while also appearing in another title game the season before. One particularly memorable game of Watson’s career featured a prime-time duel against #3 Louisville and QB Lamar Jackson on October 4, 2016. Watson led Clemson on a winning drive in the final three minutes to give the Tigers a 20-17 win.
Brian Dawkins, Safety (1993-1996)
Known as one of the NFL’s best strong safeties over the last two decades, Dawkins earned his stripes playing safety for Clemson as a three-year starter. In a 1995 home game against Duke, he set a school record with 3 interceptions in one quarter. Dawkins would be drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996 and played for nearly fifteen years with the Eagles and Broncos. He is currently in both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
William & Michael Dean Perry, Defensive Line (1981-1984; 1984-1987)
Although they only played together for one season in 1984, they made the most of it. In the Tigers’ home season opener against Appalachian State, William strip-sacked the quarterback, and Michael Dean recovered it for a touchdown. William won a national title in 1981, and would go on to be known as “The Fridge” in his NFL career with the Bears. Michael Dean also played for 10 seasons in the NFL, primarily with Cleveland and Denver.
Did You Know?
The NFL’s Carolina Panthers called Memorial Stadium home for their inaugural season in 1995. The city of Charlotte, NC was granted the expansion team, but they used Clemson for home games while Bank of America Stadium (then Ericsson Stadium) was being built in Charlotte.
Why Commit Here?
Unless you’re a coach or ESPN cameraman, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get to experience riding the buses around your own stadium and to be greeted by 81,000 supporting fans. You won’t get to experience touching the rock, and then running down the hill. The Tigers are constantly in championship contention and get to play teams like Florida State, Louisville, and Miami yearly in the Atlantic Coast Conference.