By Schuyler Easterling
With the dawn of the New Year upon us, 2013 symbolizes a chance to begin again with renewed hope, dreams, and goals. New Year’s resolutions are planned out, scribbled down and kept as a reminder to focus on the mission at hand.
For eight former Clemson Tigers, 2013 ushers in incredible opportunity and a unique New Year’s Resolution: advance to the Super Bowl and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Ex-Tigers Dwayne Allen (2008-11), Kavell Conner (2006-09), Leroy Hill (2001-04), Byron Maxwell (2007-10), Crezdon Butler (2006-09), Jarvis Jenkins (2007-10), Michael Palmer (2006-09) and Brandon Thompson (2008-11) will be representing the Clemson program in the 2013 NFL Playoffs, and all have dreams of reaching the pinnacle of football greatness on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
With the NFL regular season wrapping up Sunday night, the 2013 NFL Playoff schedule is solidified and the hunt for the Super Bowl begins next Sunday with the divisional Wild Card games beginning. Several former Tiger playmakers aim to guide their respective teams to a win and a chance to continue the dream.
Indianapolis Colts teammates Dwayne Allen and Kavell Conner, once former Clemson teammates, helped lead Indy to a 11-5 regular season record, a second-place finish in the AFC South, the No. 5 seed and a shot at the AFC Wild Card in the playoffs.
Rookie tight end Allen has been an integral fixture in the Colts’ offensive attack, hauling in 45 receptions for 521 yards (averaging 11.6 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball for Indianapolis, linebacker Conner has been a stout defender all season. Conner racked up 37 total tackles, 52 combo tackles, and one sack in the regular season (currently the Colts’ fifth leading tackler).
Both Allen and Conner will travel to Maryland to face the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday at 1 p.m., and attempt to continue the magic of the 2012 season.
Jenkins, a second-round pick of the Redskins in the 2011 NFL Draft, has recorded 25 tackles this season for the Washington defense after he missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game prior to his rookie year.
For Seattle, another pair of former Tigers are hoping to propel the Seahawks in the playoffs. Linebacker Leroy Hill and cornerback Byron Maxwell helped anchor a defensive effort that guided Seattle to an 11-5 regular season record, a second-place finish in the NFC West and the No. 5 seed in the NFC.
Hill has been a consistent playmaker for the Seahawk defense, pummeling offenses for 31 total tackles, 47 combo tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble this season.
In the defensive backfield, Maxwell has seen little action for the Seahawks, recording 10 total tackles and 14 combo tackles in nine games this season.
Seattle will face the NFC East Champion Washington Redskins next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in a battle between former collegiate standout quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
Spiller finishes record-breaking season. Many former Clemson Tigers saw gridiron action across the country yesterday and had solid performances in the NFL regular season finale games. However, no ex-Tiger had a better performance, or season, than Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (2006-09).
Sunday, Spiller’s electric all-purpose attack gouged the New York Jets and led the Buffalo Bills to a rousing 28-9 whipping. Spiller had a quiet day on the ground, rushing for 59 yards on 24 attempts. However, Spiller was lethal as a receiver, hauling in two receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown (a dazzling 66-yard dash).
Despite Spiller’s record-breaking season, the Bills finished the 2012 season with a 6-10 final record. The biggest bright spot on the year for the Bills remains in the form of Spiller, whose incredible season shows promise for the future. Spiller finished his third season in the league with 1,244 rushing yards on 207 carries (averaged 6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns on the ground.
Through the air, Spiller recorded 459 yards on 43 receptions (averaging 10.7 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.
Although Sunday marked the end of Spiller’s season, there is no doubt this season has been a gigantic milestone for the Clemson legend. And if the past is any indicator, 2013 will be a special year for Spiller as well.