Friday, April 11, 2014 1:02 PM
Spring game a crucial part of the recruiting process
by David Hood
Senior Writer

CLEMSON – The Clemson coaching staff will host somewhere between 115 and 130 recruits for this weekend‘s spring game, an event that kicks off what they hope will be a busy spring and summer of recruiting.

The annual Orange and White Game will kick off at 4 p.m. inside of Death Valley Saturday afternoon, a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

TigerNet spoke with Thad Turnipseed this week, Clemson’s Director of Recruiting/External Affairs, and Turnipseed that said that spring games play an important role in the recruiting process. A big reason? Recruits are committing to schools on earlier dates.

“The past four or five years, recruiting has changed and the timeline has changed,” Turnipseed said. “It has moved up six months. A lot of the commitments are made starting in the spring and during the summer. Most major schools are having 60 to 70 percent of their commits done by the summer. So the spring game is kicking off the summer. You bring in the guys you really want for next year, and you bring them into the spring game.”

Turnipseed came to Clemson after spending the previous 11 years at Alabama, where he started as director of capital projects, designing and overseeing over $200 million in athletic projects.

He said that Alabama began the rise back to greatness by recruiting during Nick Saban’s first spring games.

“When I was at Alabama and Coach Saban came in, Alabama was as low as it’s ever been,” he said. “They had been on probation and had several bad years. Coach Saban came in and brought in that excitement. They had over 120,000 people at the game. He knew that would kick start the whole special run that Alabama has had.”

Other programs have also seen the benefit of big attendance figures at spring games.

“Ohio St. has had over 80,000. Auburn last year, in the first year with Gus Malzahn, had over 83,000,” Turnipseed said. “That excitement and that energy around the program means a lot. Having the former players around and the current players that are there, it is the perfect kick off for the next year. “

He then said that the spring game acts as the launching point for the summer recruiting circuit, and he hopes that Clemson fans turn out in big numbers on Saturday.

“Following the spring game, you go right into the summer camps. That is really the first time you can see them, feel them, put your hands on them and learn about the kid you are about to offer,” he said. “The spring game can get more kids to your camps, which is crucial. That is why we need Clemson nation to show up. It’s been proven to me that we have the loudest fans in the country, and we have the best atmosphere. If we can just transfer that to the spring game, it will really help us kick off recruiting for the spring and the summer. “

Some of the Expected Visitors

2015 commits
WR Shadell Bell, Decatur (GA) Columbia
OL Jake Fruhmorgen, Tampa (FL) Plant
OL Noah Green, Boiling Springs (SC)
OL Mitch Hyatt, Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett
QB Tucker Israel, Orlando (FL) Lake Nona
S Tanner Muse, Belmont (NC) South Point
S Van Smith, Charlotte (NC) West Mecklenburg

2015 prospects
OL Brandon Sandifer, Warner Robins (GA) Northside
CB Antonio Parks, Reserve (LA) East St. John
OL Venzell Boulware, Fairburn (GA) Creekside
DT Gage Cervenka, Greenwood (SC) Emerald
CB Kaleb Chalmers, Greenwood (SC)
LB Tyler Cooksey, Norcross (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian
DE LaSamuel Davis, Bamberg-Ehrhardt (SC)
WR Juval Mollette, Randleman (NC)
LB Roquan Smith, Montezuma (GA) Macon County
DE Russell Ude, Atlanta (GA) Westminster
S Leomont Evans, Jr., Blythewood (SC)

2016 prospects
QB Trey Coryell, Perry (GA)
LB/DB Stephen Davis, Irmo (SC) Dutch Fork
RB Elijah Deveaux, Charlotte (NC) Charlotte Christian
LB Tobias Little, Atlanta (GA) Mays
WR Maysoe Wiley, Adel (GA) Cook County
QB Austin Estes, Belton (SC)
K Alex Barbir, Cumming (GA)

David Hood can be reached at davidhood@tigernet.com