HEAD OF THE CLASS Two Tigers Starters Earn Academic Honor

Article excerpt

Since the NCAA began selecting Academic All-American teams, there had never been two football players from the same school who made the first team in the same season.

Until now.

Shuffling through press releases and media guides from Vanderbilt, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Northwestern, California or Florida won't yield that information. Instead, the distinction belongs to linebacker Chad Carson and center Kyle Young, two of the top players this year for Clemson University.

Clemson?

Yes . . . and fans of other schools in the South can at least put a temporary moratorium on their mocking Blue Ridge accent ("Climp-son") or the school's fund-raising arm IPTAY (it stands for "I Pay Thirty A Year," not "I Plow Thirty a Year.").

"I recruited against Clemson for a long time," said current Tigers coach Tommy Bowden. "I used some of that material. Now, I know better."

Combined with a dose of good news this year from Time magazine, which named Clemson the College of the Year among public universities, the accomplishments of Carson and Young have boosted the academic reputation of Clemson considerably.

"It's something both of were looking forward to, and something both of us worked very hard to earn," said Young, who made the first-team All-Academic for the second year in a row, while Carson was second team in 2000. "Ever since last year, our goal was to both get on the first team."

By the way, Carson and Young, both juniors, aren't kickers or backup quarterbacks. They're among the most important players for the 13th-ranked Tigers (9-2), who will meet No. 5 Virginia Tech (10-1) Monday in the 56th Toyota Gator Bowl Classic at Alltel Stadium.

Carson, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker from Newnan, Ga., led the Tigers with 146 tackles this season, nine for losses, and had three sacks. Young (6-3, 277), a center who grew up within sight of Tiger Stadium, had 112 knockdown blocks (a team record), was in on 766 snaps, which led the team this year and was second-team All-American by Football News and third team by The Sporting News.

In a season when the Tigers went 9-2, Carson said the school's academic victories mean as much, if not more.

"We're really proud of this," he said. "Our president wants us to increase our academic standing in the nation, and it's a good step to get recognition for Clemson. It's good for the university and good for us."

Carson is a biology major with designs on medical school -- after he attempts to go to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar next year. He has a 3.94 grade point average, and has made an A in every college course he has taken, except two.

Young is majoring in secondary education, with a 3.97 GPA, and begins student teaching next semester. He had a 4.0 GPA in high school.

Young pointed out that making academic All-American is the result of years of work in college. …

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