By Sam Blackman
Some of the most memorable plays in Clemson football archieves involves former placekicker David Treadwell.
Ironically, two of these plays came against the Georgia Bulldogs in 1986 and 1987 on last second field goals.
On September 20th, 1986, Treadwell kicked a 46-yard field goal with no time on the clock to give the Tigers a dramatic 31-28 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens. Oddly, future Clemson All-America kicker and punter Chris Gardocki was underneath the goal posts at that game when Treadwell’s kick split the uprights. Gardocki, who was in high school at the time, was on a recruiting visiting at Georgia that Saturday.
The next year on September 19th, Treadwell kicked a 21-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to give the Tigers a thrilling 21-20 victory over Georgia in Death Valley.
“It meant a lot to be able to contribute to the team in the rivalry with Georgia,” Treadwell said. “I wished we could play Georgia every year. It’s a natural rivalry and the schools are so close together.
“It was a tremendous feeling to be able to kick the winning field goals in the Georgia games. I remember in class before the 1987 game, someone asked if I was going to kick the winning field goal again. I said no, there is no way that would happen again, not two years in a row. That shows how much I know about prognosticating football games."
The modest Treadwell loves to pass off the credit to his Tiger teammates.
“A lot of people say you won the game for Clemson both times, but I can’t take credit for that. There was a large battle and a lot of football played before I went on the field in the final seconds of those two games. I was just happy to be part of the game. It’s a real honor to be able to have been part of the Clemson football program. I’m just glad that I was able to do my job and help the team win those two Georgia games.
Treadwell says his parents taught him when he was growing up that the team is what is most important.
“It was part of my upbringing to realize that it takes everyone working together to be successful. It’s all about the team and teamwork. I give credit to my teammates."
Treadwell became interested in Clemson at an early age. The Clemson engineering department deserves a lot of credit in attracting Treadwell to Tigertown. The nationally renowned department and its outstanding reputation are responsible for bringing him to Clemson.
“I got interested in Clemson when I saw the Tigers beat Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl to win the National Championship. Clemson has a good engineering school, they were a good size-not too big, not too small. While growing up, I was an Alabama fan. When Coach Bear Bryant stepped down in 1982, I started looking at other schools.
Treadwell went to The Bolles School in Jacksonville, FL. Then Clemson Assistant Football Coach Chuck Ready made a routine recruiting visit to the school when he first met Treadwell.
“Coach Chuck Ready stopped by our high school and I talked to him, and he said I should walk on. We had two soccer players that played football and were placekickers. They later went on to play in college. I only played soccer in high school. The placekicking job on our football team was already taken.
“When I got to Clemson I decided to walk on in the fall of 1983. I came to Clemson to study engineering and with the encouragement of my father, I decided to walk on and try out for a job at Clemson. My father had seen me play soccer, and said he didn’t know why I couldn’t convert that into football. He didn’t push me, just encouraged me to try out. If my dad hadn’t encouraged me to try out I don’t know if I’d had gone out for the team or not.” Clemson fans are glad he did.
“I knew I didn’t have the distance in kicking, so I would practice on my accuracy on the goalposts on the practice fields that were only nine feet apart.”
“My first two years were tough,” he said. When I first went out for football, I didn’t know anyone. I was told I wouldn’t have a shot to play for a couple of years since the Tigers already had Bob Paulling and Donald Igwebuike. My first trip into the locker room was the one thing that sticks out in my mind. Here I was only 6-1 and 165 pounds, walking in the ‘Land of Giants’!”
However, in 1985, Treadwell got his chance. He took advantage of the opportunity by kicking the game-winner with no time left on the clock in his very first game at Virginia Tech in the season opener on September 14, in Blacksburg. Treadwell, the hero of this game, did not even know he was going to play until the second quarter and he ended up leading the Tigers to the 20-17 victory over the Hokies.
Clemson Head Coach Danny Ford had carried four kickers to Blacksburg, VA, figuring he might have to go through all four to get the job done. He had not announced who the kicker would be. When Clemson was driving close to the Hokie goal line, there was jockeying for position on the sideline so Coach Ford could see them. “We were trying to see who could stand closest to Coach Ford,” Treadwell said.
David had many honors at Clemson In 1987 he was a consensus first team All-American, and he was first team All-ACC. On six occasions in his career he won or tied games with field goals inside the last three minutes of the fourth quarter.
Aside from the two Georgia games and the Virginia Tech contest, he kicked a 30-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining in the game to give Clemson a 13-10 win against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He kicked a 21-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to give the Tigers a 17-17 tie that allowed Clemson to win the 1986 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. He also kicked a 31-yard field goal with 2:50 left to go as the Tigers tied South Carolina 21-21 in 1986.
The pressure of the last minute field goals did not affect Treadwell.
“I treated every kick the same whether it’s for the game or an extra point,” said Treadwell. “Coach Ford had us mentally prepared for most anything that could happen in a game. When the opportunity came up, you must be ready to help the team,” he said. “I strived for perfection in my kicking and in school.”
After his brilliant Clemson career, he played with the Denver Broncos in 1989-92, and the New York Giants in 1993-94.
Today, Treadwell lives in Denver, Colorado with his family. David and his wife Lisa have three children, 13 year old twin boys Reece and Connor and daughter Reilly who is 11. David is a mortgage banker.
“It’s hard to be away from Clemson, you fall in love with that place, said Treadwell. “When I kicked the winning field goals against Georgia in 1986 and 1987, those were the most memorable moments in my football career, college or pro.”