The list includes offensive guard Nathan Bennett, offensive tackle Marion Dukes, and running back Reggie Merriweather.
Additionally, defensive backs Sergio Gilliam and Duane
Coleman have also signed free agent contracts. They both helped
Clemson to top 20 final rankings in pass defense, total defense and
scoring defense during the 2006 season.
Bennett, a first-team All-ACC and third-team AP All-American,
signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers. Bennett was
a four-year starter for the Tigers who led the team in knockdown
blocks this past season. Dukes, who was a three year starter at
offensive tackle, signed with the Miami Dolphins. Merriweather,
Clemson's top rusher in 2004 as a sophomore and one of the top 20
touchdown scorers in Clemson history, signed with the San Diego
Gilliam, a starter on Clemson's 2005 team that finished in
the top 25 of both polls, signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
Coleman, who ranked fourth on the 2006 Clemson team in tackles with
81 and was an honorable mention All-ACC defensive back, signed with
the Buffalo Bills. Coleman was Clemson's top rusher as a running
back in 2003.
Clemson has had 40 former players go on to play in NFL games
after signing a free agent contract. That includes Jamaal Fudge, a
senior on the 2005 Clemson team who played in six games for the
Jacksonville Jaquars last year. The list of former Tigers who made
an NFL roster after signing as a free agent includes Jeff Bostic, who
played 14 years and 184 games in the NFL. He played on three Super
Bowl Championship teams in Washington, more than any other former
Clemson player in history.
These five former Tigers will join five more 2006 team
members who were drafted over the weekend. Gaines Adams was the
fourth pick of the entire draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tying
Banks McFadden for the highest draft choice in Clemson history.
Anthony Waters, who played just one game last year due to a torn ACL,
was a third-round choice of the San Diego Chargers.
Starting center Dustin Fry went in the fifth round to the St. Louis
Rams, while cornerback C.J. Gaddis was a fifth-round pick of the
Philadelphia Eagles. Two-time first-team All-ACC wide receiver
Chansi Stuckey was a seventh round pick of the New York Jets.
Clemson's five draft choices ranked in a tie for first among ACC
teams with Florida State and Miami (FL). The five selections tied
for seventh best in the nation. Florida led the way with nine,
followed by Ohio State with eight, Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas
with seven apiece, and Tennessee with six. Clemson joined Auburn,
Florida State, Hawaii, LSU, Miami (FL), Penn State and Southern Cal
with five apiece.
5 Former Tigers Sign Free Agent Contracts
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