College Sports

New York Giants start a quick run on Clemson Tigers on NFL draft’s Day 3

A bloodied Clemson Tigers running back Wayne Gallman breaks free for a first down on a run in the second quarter against South Carolina at Memorial Stadium in Clemson in November.
A bloodied Clemson Tigers running back Wayne Gallman breaks free for a first down on a run in the second quarter against South Carolina at Memorial Stadium in Clemson in November. gmelendez@thestate.com

If only they had known ahead of time ...

Clemson fans following Saturday’s draft needed to only watch the NFL draft on television for a short stretch on Day 3. Three Tigers from Clemson’s national championship team heard their name called Saturday within 10 picks near the end of the fourth round and beginning of the fifth round.

The New York Giants were the first NFL team to take a Clemson Tiger on Day 3, taking running back Wayne Gallman with the 34th pick in the fourth round, 140th overall.

Gallman was a three-year starter at Clemson who led the team in rushing each season. Gallman set a Tigers’ single-season rushing record in 2015 as a sophomore with 1,527 rushing yards and 1,740 yards from scrimmage.

Gallman will compete against Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen for playing time, according to the Associated Press.

▪ Two picks later, the Texans added a second Clemson player, 6-foot-4, 312-pound defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.

Watkins earned all-ACC honors his first season starting as a junior. As a senior, Watkins collected a team-high 7.5 sacks over the regular season.

Watkins survived a one-car crash in 2013 in Rutherford County that took the life of Watkins’ cousin, who was driving. He ended up missing all but the first three games that season, making his later feats seem even more impressive.

▪ In the fifth round, the Big Apple added another Tiger when the New York Jets took tight end Jordan Leggett with the sixth pick, 150th overall. As a senior, the two-year starter finished with 46 receptions for 736 yards and seven TDs, earning first team All-ACC and All-American honors.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Leggett was also used in a variety of ways, from in-line tight end to receiver to H-back, at Clemson.

“I feel like I pose a big matchup on the field anywhere against anybody,” Leggett said. “I love man-to-man coverage. Other than that, I like to make a difference on offense – in the running game or in the passing game.”

Earlier picks

Clemson ended the draft with six selections, tied for eighth among the nation’s college programs. Michigan had the most with 11.

Clemson’s 15 picks over the past two seasons is its most over a two-year period since the Danny Ford era, when 16 Tigers were taken in 1983-84.

▪ At Houston, Watkins will join teammate Deshaun Watson. The Texans took the Tigers quarterback at No. 12 in the first round.

The move gives Houston four players from Clemson, with Watson and Watkins joining receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive tackle D.J. Reader.

▪ Thursday, the Los Angeles Chargers drafted wide receiver Mike Williams with the seventh pick in the first round .

▪ Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (33rd pick of round 3, 97th overall) was taken Friday by the Miami Dolphins.

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