- Associated Press - Monday, May 12, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Brian Dawkins wishes he could do more for Clemson, particularly after what his says the school did for him.

Dawkins said he is grateful that his three years starting at free safety for the Tigers two decades ago launched a standout NFL career and his current gig as an ESPN analyst. Dawkins was among eight honorees enshrined into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame on Monday.

“I’m not saying anything derogatory about anyone over 40,” said Dawkins, who is 40. “But I consider myself a young man so have all these things come my way right now is really a blessing.”

Dawkins was considered a small defender out of Jacksonville’s Raines High when he signed with the Tigers and went on to become one of their most reliable players, tying for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead with six interceptions his senior season.

He was picked in the second-round by Philadelphia in 1996 and began a stellar, 16-year career with the Eagles and Denver Broncos. Dawkins was picked for the Pro Bowl nine times before retiring after the 2011 season. He was named to the Eagles’ 75th anniversary team and had his No. 20 jersey retired. Dawkins was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s.

Dawkins hasn’t spent much time with the Tigers, although he was usually available with a text message or call to a player who might need a lift or some advice. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney instituted the Brian Dawkins Lifetime Leadership Award that goes each year to a Tigers player who combines a strong performance on the field with contributions in leadership and community service.

Dawkins wasn’t the only former Clemson football player to make the hall this year. Ex-quarterback Rodney Williams was the school’s all-time winningest passer with a 32-10-2 record as starter from 1985-88 - a mark surpassed this past season by recently drafted senior Tajh Boyd (32-8).

Others enshrinees include:

- sprinter Monique Hennagan, a Columbia native who won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team in 2000 and 2004.

- ex-South Carolina guard Zam Fredrick, who led the NCAA in scoring in 1980-81 with a 28.9-point a game scoring average.

- former Gamecocks pitcher Randy Martz, who put together a 14-0 record in 1977 to help South Carolina to the College World Series.

- former South Carolina State offensive lineman Edwin Bailey, who played 11 seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

Also honored were former Newberry College basketball player Carl Short, who was the NAIA’s all-time leading scorer after his career from 1958-61 and longtime executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association Happ Lathrop.

Dawkins likes where the Clemson football program is and believes Swinney and his staff will keep them relevant atop college football for a while.

“It’s not a fluke anymore,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins remembers nearly 20 years ago when he was getting scouted, although with nowhere near scrutiny of today’s players, by the NFL evaluators. And he didn’t escape those deconstructing his game and finding holes in it.

“I was a smallish safety coming out, that’s what they told me,” he recalled. “They said I was a chance.”

It was a chance Dawkins has apparently made the most of.

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