Clemson Football: The 50 greatest Tigers of all time

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Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)


Fred Knoebel

Defensive Back, (1950-52)

Not very many Clemson fans have ever heard the name Fred Knoebel, let alone know what kind of football player he was back in the early 1950s.

Knoebel wasn’t an All-American or All-Conference player, and he didn’t even go on to play professional football. So, how could a man who isn’t recognized with a plethora of football accolades, or a man whose name isn’t plastered all over buildings across campus be known as one of the greatest Clemson football players of all-time?

It’s pretty simple: Knoebel was an interception machine.

In an era where the ball was rarely thrown, Knoebel finished his Clemson career with 15 interceptions. To this day, that is good enough for second in program history behind just Terry Kinard (17). Knoebel is tied for fourth in program history for interceptions in a single season (seven).

Football in the 1950s was all about running the option. The quarterbacks were essentially running backs. You might not see the ball thrown more than five times in a game, and yet Knoebel found a way to intercept 15 passes in his career. If the game had been played as it is today back then, he very well may have set a record that would never be surpassed in Clemson.

Knoebel was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996 as a two-sport athlete (football, baseball). Colonel Knoebel served 28 years in the U.S. Army, in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service. He passed away in August of 2005, but his legacy still lives on.

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