In this edition of Throwback Thursday John Chancey looks at Clemson football great Charlie Waters.
Charlie Waters – Quarterback/Receiver 1967-69
- RTR 200 Ranking: 181
- All-ACC in 1969
- 68 receptions
- 1,196 passing yards
- 17.1 yards per reception
One of the first Clemson football players to make an impact in the NFL came to Clemson because he wanted to play quarterback. Other schools from the SEC wanted Charlie Waters to play defense when they recruited him out of North Augusta High School, but the lure of football’s highest profile position was too much.
"“Many of the schools I heard from wanted me to play defensive back and wide receiver, but I had my heart set on playing quarterback. I chose Clemson since they wanted me to play quarterback and I loved the idea of playing in-state.”"
He did take some snaps for the Tigers, but Waters explained that he was convinced to make a change.
"“Whitey Jordan is who I have to thank for moving me to wide receiver. This allowed me to become more athletic. I was able to show my skills better and I believe this is why Dallas drafted me. They saw that I could be moved to another position. They weren’t just interested in positions, they were looking at athletic ability.”"
Charlie Waters’ versatility paved way for long NFL career in Dallas
That versatility led to Waters being drafted as a defensive back in the 3rd round of the 1970 Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, despite the fact he didn’t take a single defensive snap at Clemson. He started six games as a rookie and hauled in five interceptions, earning Waters a spot on the All-Rookie team that year. He was named to the All-Pro team in back-to-back seasons, in 1977 & 1978. He had an eleven year career with Dallas, winning two Super Bowls. He was a constant presence with the franchise in the era in which they were labeled “America’s Team”.
Waters started as a quarterback at Clemson and finished as a defensive back for Dallas, but in between he was a solid flanker who set Clemson’s single season reception record with 44 catches until Jerry Butler later eclipsed that mark. His 17.1 yards per reception for his career puts him ahead of several Clemson legends.
One of the notable parts of Water’s football career are the coaches he has played for, which includes Frank Howard and Tom Landry. He also played for Gene Stallings, who was his secondary coach for a time with the Cowboys. Waters explained how Coach Swinney reminded him of Stallings:
"“He’s real personable with the players. You can tell that the kids love playing for him. If you’re going to coach, why not have that as your No. 1 thing to do? He’s been that way the whole time he’s been around. The kids know there’s a lot more to him than coaching. He’s more concerned about those players as people. I hold Dabo in extreme high regard. Most coaches do the same thing, because they all know what it’s like to coach. He’s got that magical light that glows in him all the time.”"
Dabo said Stallings was similarly complimentary of Waters:
"“Well, that’s kind of surreal for me to just even hear you say that because, in my seven years with Coach Stallings — and y’all have heard me tell Stallings stories a lot — his favorite all-time player was Charlie Waters. He used to talk about Charlie Waters all the time. I didn’t have a clue who — I mean, I knew Charlie Waters when he was a Cowboy, but I didn’t know much more about Charlie Waters than that other than Coach Stallings every year would talk about Charlie Waters. ’Brother, hey, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t do — I tried to cut him every year, but we couldn’t cut Charlie Waters because he was smarter than everybody else, he played faster than everybody else, he saw it, he anticipated’. And he would brag on Charlie Waters and his knowledge as a player. I didn’t know until I got to Clemson that Charlie Waters came from Clemson. So, really, kind of neat. And I’ve had a chance to meet him once or twice. So really special.”"