Note: The following appears in the Boston College Football Game Schedule.
Dabo Swinney has a celebrated tradition of excellence in walk-ons. Hunter Renfrow tops this list and has a Burlsworth Trophy (the national award given annually to the best college football player who started his career as an extra) to show it off.
However, Danny Ford has also had his share of success, and one of them was honored earlier this year by Swinney’s program as the recipient of the 2021 Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award. Carl Martin, at 5’7 was the shortest letterman of the 1981 Clemson National Championship team. He is this year’s recipient of the honor for his work in a community near Hilton Head, SC
Since 2013, Swinney has presented the award to a former Tiger who has consistently demonstrated the qualities of leadership, community service and other high qualities that are consistent with excellence since graduating from Clemson. A beneficiary must have been out of school for more than 10 years. Dawkins, who played 16 seasons in the NFL, was nominated for Nine Pro Bowls and was a finalist for numerous public service awards, was the first recipient of the award.
Martin may not have caught a winning touchdown pass with a second left to give the Tigers a national championship, but he played every game in the 1981 season, when Ford coached the Tigers in their first. national title with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. He also played on special teams every game in 1982, and he recorded 10 special teams tackles in those two seasons, among the team’s best totals in those two years.
He also became a stalwart from a leadership standpoint in two CCA championship teams that finished No. 1 and No. 8 in the AP poll, respectively.
“Carl is a great person,” Ford said in an article on Martin during his playing days. “Pound for pound he’s the toughest player on the team and maybe the strongest. He is very proud of his team and of this school. It means a lot to us to have a player like Carl Martin on this team.
“I was bowled over when Rashard Hall called me and told me that I had won the award,” said Martin. “I know who the past winners are and what they’ve accomplished. Winning an award with the Dawkins surname on it and receiving the Dabo Swinney Program award is a great honor.
Martin graduated from Clemson in the spring of 1983, and became a graduate assistant in the Tiger Strength and Conditioning department. He then received his MA from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1987 and received a PhD from the same institution in 1998.
This academic background and his experience with the Clemson football program led him to his current profession. Life Coach at Vision Ventures, Martin specializes in setting performance goals and developing the skills of pastors, executives, business leaders and other entrepreneurs.
Most importantly, for the past 15 years he has overseen a mentorship program in Bluffton, South Carolina. While the program was effective, it did not reach the most vulnerable children Martin wanted to reach. So three years ago, the program changed its model to paid professional mentoring. Over 25 years of research led him to believe that constant, long-term mentorship was the key to successfully breaking the cycle of poverty.
“Some kids in South Carolina were falling through the cracks, but if you have them in their youth, you can make an impact and break the cycle of generational poverty,” said Martin, executive director of Real Champions, Inc. “This is why RCI starts earlier, starting with a Kindergarten or Grade 1 child, goes deeper and stays longer, until high school graduation.
“Once we start with the kid, we want to stay with him no matter what. We take a humble approach and attitude. Our approach is to build a team of mentors around these children and to provide a role model for parents while remaining engaged.
“We try to give them some important basic skills, like looking people in the eye and giving them a good handshake.”
Martin has served two churches as a senior pastor, planted a church, worked for the South Carolina Baptist Convention on the church planting team, and most recently held a position with the LowCountry Community Church. in Bluffton, a church that accommodates 2,000 people in its weekend places of worship.
Currently, Martin is the pastor of Worship on the Water, the Palmetto Bluff community church near Hilton Head, SC