Michael Palmer has since emerged as that target, helping to change the angle of the debate.
In what has been a record breaking senior season, Palmer grabbed 41 receptions for 468 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games, good enough to earn All-ACC first team honors.
He broke the school record for catches in a season by a tight end when he had three against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game. The previous record of 40 was set by John McMakin in 1970. Palmer set the yardage record when he caught a 22-yard scoring pass from Kyle Parker in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. Palmer had eight receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Gamecocks. That was just the second 100-yard receiving game by a tight end in school history.
He'll suit up in orange and purple one more time when Clemson takes on Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Sunday.
It's not just the individual stats that have made 2009 a memorable one for him. Palmer was among the senior leaders who led the Tigers to a first Atlantic Division championship with 6-2 conference record along the way.
Palmer said he'll remember the people more than any game, practice or individual accomplishment.
"The thing I'm going to remember the most about it are my teammates and the relationships that I've built," he said. "Those will be the ultimate memories."
Despite losses to South Carolina and then to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, Palmer hopes there's been enough of a foundation laid for the future of Clemson football. He would like to see the Tigers make plans for Charlotte and next year's conference championship game.
"From the first three years until now, things are so much different," he said. "It's moving in the right way."