No. 4 comes out of retirement

CLEMSON - If there's one thing about college football that hasn't changed in the last 40 years, it's the importance of a good jersey number.

Had star ratings and the Internet been around when Steve Fuller arrived to Clemson from Spartanburg High School, he probably would have been received like Deshaun Watson was when showed up for class in January.

Even after just one day of practice, it still remains to be seen if Watson will live up to the hype, but Fuller certainly did.

Three paragraphs from the school's web site sum up his four years at Clemson.

"Steve Fuller was an outstanding quarterback for the Tigers in the late 1970s. He started 27 consecutive games for Clemson. He was selected as a third-team All-American in 1978 and All-ACC in 1977 and 1978. He was honored with the ACC Player-of-the-Year Award both years, the only Tiger to win that award twice.

Along with his on-field success, Fuller had many academic achievements at Clemson. He is one of just three Tiger football players in history to be named an All-American on the field and in the classroom in the same year. In addition, he made the Academic All-ACC team three consecutive years, and in 1978, he was one of 11 scholar-athletes honored by the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. He was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was chosen recipient of one of the NCAA's Top Five Awards. Fuller graduated with a 3.93 GPA.

Fuller was just the second athlete in Clemson history to have their number retired [four]. After his time at Clemson, he played 10 years in the NFL. In 1996, he was named to Clemson's Centennial football team. He was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Clemson Ring of Honor in 1994."


Dabo Swinney asked about Watson's No. 4 jersey after Wednesday's spring practice opener.

"That's something that Steve and I talked about last May," Swinney said. "We, actually, had dinner together. We play in a golf tournament every May, so I get to spend three days with him every year, always have a lot of fun. It just came up in conversation, one of the things that I asked him about was if he had a problem if Deshaun brought his number back out of retirement.

"[Thought] it would be really cool to have a Steve Fuller patch on the jersey every time Deshaun practices, every time Deshaun plays his whole career, Steve Fuller is being honored.

"It's been a really long time since Steve Fuller played at Clemson, so it's really kind of cool to give him a lot of recognition for the things that he did."

After Clemson, Fuller was first-round draft pick by the Chiefs in 1979. He was the backup quarterback for those great Bears teams in the 80s, including the team that won Super Bowl XX. Sports Illustrated called him one the best 15 backup quarterbacks of all-time, because of that season in 1985.

"He was a phenomenal player, set a standard for that position and for that number [at Clemson]," Swinney said. "He certainly is excited about that and felt good about Deshaun and him wearing that number. It was really his call. Very appreciate that he decided to do that."

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