COLUMBIA - 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 to 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.
Former Newberry College basketball player Carl Short, who was the NAIA's all-time leading scorer after his career from 1958-61.
Longtime executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association Happ Lathrop.
South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley was one of three head coaches selected to serve as assistant coaches for the 2014 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team. She joins DePaul's Doug Bruno and Cheryl Reeve of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx on the staff, chosen by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Steering Committee, to work with head coach Geno Auriemma. Staley served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Championship and Olympic Games in 2006 and 2008.
Darren Guensch was named assistant women's basketball coach at the College of Charlesto. Guensch, 31, will serve as the Cougars' recruiting coordinator. He joins the Cougars after spending the last two seasons under head coach Wendy Palmer at UNC Greensboro.
Charleston Southern's softball team will make its first NCAA postseason appearance in Knoxville, Tenn., for next weekend's double-elimination NCAA Regional. The Bucs face No. 10 overall seed Tennessee, as well as Lipscomb and Virginia Tech, from Friday to Sunday.
Charleston Southern (27-31-1) qualified by winning the Big South Conference tournament, 3-1, over Coastal Carolina on Sunday as the No. 7 seed.
College of Charleston signed four players, including Britney Vallez, an outside hitter from Wando High School in Mount Pleasant. Vallez led Wando to a Lower State Championship in 2013, finishing runner-up in the state title match. She was a SCCAWS Class AAAA All-State performer in 2013 while also earning a spot in the Class AAAA/AAA North-South All-Star game. She earned All-Region honors in 2012.
"Britney is one of the best players in the state of South Carolina," Cougars coach Jason Kepner said. "I don't think there is a skill that she is not good at. She will provide more defense and passing to our roster, but has the ability to hit outside or take swings out of the back row for us."
The Cougars also signed Olivia Bin, an outside hitter from LaSalle High School in Pasadena, Calif.; setter Bailey Humes, who was a junior at Syracuse last season; and defensive specialist Megan Quigley of Archbishop Carroll High School in Wayne, Pa.