Most Clemson fans will remember quarterback Woodrow Dantzler from his time leading the Tigers offense from 1999-2001. He became the first quarterback EVER to throw for over 2,000 yards in a season and run for over 1,000 yards in a season. He basically started the popular “let’s use our quarterbacks as running backs too” movement in college football that still characterizes the game 15 years later.
Here he is operating that Rich Rodriguez spread offense:
Let’s just get this out of the way real fast before venturing into Dantzler’s Clemson career. I am by no means a Clemson fan and really didn’t care about the state of Clemson football in the early 2000’s since I was like 11. My days of compulsively gambling on football were still ahead of me. I still hold a special place in my heart for dear Woody Dantzler though, but let’s get to his Clemson career before getting into that.
In his first full season as a starter, Dantzler led the Tigers to their first nine-win season since 1993 and combined for 23 touchdowns (13 of them on the ground). Six of his ten passing touchdowns went to former first round pick of the Washington Redskins, Rod Gardner.
As for his 2001 season, it was just spectacular. Clemson disappointed with a 7-5 record, but Dantzler didn’t. He took the ball 206 times for 1,004 rushing yards and ten touchdowns and then tacked on another 2,360 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns. The guy literally had to have been involved in every single one of their offensive plays. Unfortunately, Dantzler and the Tigers were frequently unable to win big games in 2001. This led to the Heisman voting committee overlooking his extraordinary statistical season and awarding the trophy to Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch.
Like I said, none of this really mattered to me. You know what did matter to me though? Madden 2003 with Marshall Faulk on the cover and Woody Dantzler’s ability to play quarterback in it even though he wasn’t one. Dantzler wasn’t drafted in 2002, but signed on with the Dallas Cowboys as a kick returner/safety/running back/whatever just throw him in there. I loved his name and I loved to start “dancing for Dantzler” when I returned kicks with him so he immediately became my favorite player in the game.
Madden 2003 was an extraordinary game all-around and will forever be known as the Madden before Michael Vick ’04 Madden. It was leaps and bounds better than 2002 Daunte Culpepper Madden in all facets. Spectacular gameplay. Spectacular graphics. Spectacular soundtrack, possibly the best Madden soundtrack ever.
It was the first Madden with Mini Camp mode! Also, Bill Parcells was referred to as “Dallas Coach” in the game due to his contract with ESPN. For me, Madden ’03 was the year of Woodrow Dantzler though because that guy was freaking awesome. This was back in the days when you could still put anybody you wanted at quarterback (and a year before Michael Vick was unstoppable). Woody Dantzler was the OV — the original Vick — because he was stupid fast and could still throw sorta, kinda even though he wasn’t a quarterback. The guy was just a force to be reckoned with.
Eventually, every game would entail me just putting Dantzler at quarterback and unleashing an air and ground fury against the hopeless jamoke unfortunate enough to play me. Madden fantasy drafts in franchise mode resulted in a first-round selection of Woody D every time just so my friends couldn’t steal him away from me.
While 2003 was the year of Woodrow, 2004 was not because Michael Vick showed up and just broke the game.
This rendered Woody’s unique skill set useless and he will forever go down as a Madden one-year wonder. Oh well, it was a good year Woodrow. You’re still my guy. Thanks for the memories.
Dantzler was out of the NFL by 2005 and went on to win an Arena League Championship with the Chicago Rush in 2006. He ended up playing out the rest of his career for a variety of semi-pro football squads before retiring in 2010.
Per Tigernet.com, the 36-year-old Dantzler is now back in his home state of South Carolina being a dad to his two little girls and working part-time as a pharmaceutical rep. When he has extra time, he is helping young people in the community and is still involved with Clemson Tigers football. As for the past, Dantzler isn’t too concerned with it:
“It’s cool to reminisce and talk about those times. There is nothing wrong with that. But when you get stuck there then that’s a problem.”
Completely agree with Dantzler on that. It’s not like I still play Madden ’03 every day anymore. I’m down to only once or twice a week now.