Don King, who established a Clemson freshman single game rushing record in 1952 that still stands today, passed away on Thursday evening.
The native of Anderson, SC played for the Tigers and Head Coach Frank Howard from 1952-55 as a quarterback and tailback. On November 4, 1952 he rushed for 234 yards in a tie game at Fordham, the last time Clemson has played a football game in New York City.
Fordham entered the game leading the nation in rushing defense. King played the tailback position in this game because of injuries to Clemson’s regular running backs. It was the only game King played tailback in his Clemson career. It is still the third most rushing yards in a single game by any Clemson back and a record for a Clemson player in a road game.
King led the Tigers in passing for four straight years and in rushing in 1953. He was the first Clemson player to lead the Tigers in passing four consecutive years. It is an accomplishment that has been equaled only by Nealon Greene (1994-97) and Charlie Whitehurst (2002-05) since.
The 1992 Clemson Hall of Fame inductee was a second-team All-ACC quarterback in 1953 and 1954, his sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. In 1953 he won the Swede Nelson Sportsmanship Award, an honor presented by the Boston Gridiron Club.
The following is a description of the events of a game against Wake Forest in 1953 by then sports information director Brent Breedin that led to King receiving that award.
“Deacons quarterback Sonny George was injured in the third quarter and remained on the field surrounded by coaches, trainers and teammates for at least 15 minutes. At maybe the 10-minute mark, Don left his teammates waiting for action to resume and went over to talk to the Wake Forest crowd and officials; then, George got up and resumed play (under existing rules, had he left the field he would have had to sit out the remainder of the quarter, and Wake did not have a reliable back-up).
“The next day, one of King's teammates explained to the press what had happened on the field. 'Don learned that George would be playing with an injured knee, so he told us to tackle him high and not low, reminding us of his situation (King had knee injuries himself) in several games the past two years.'"