Dabo Swinney's ACC post-spring teleconference transcript
DABO SWINNEY: Just like everybody else we're kind of in our post-spring process now. Finishing up here a couple weeks ago. I felt like it was a very productive spring. The one big positive for us, the majority of our team was there. We only had ten signees that were not there. They'll be joining us this summer. So we were fortunate to have a lot of guys back from last year's team.
I thought we had good retention. A lot of practice that we had, obviously, with an extended season, I think, paid off for us with some of the young guys that we're going to be counting on to step up. But a good spring, competitive. Feel like we're out of the gates and running. We've got a long way to go to be the type of winning football team we want to be.
But saw good progress from a lot of guys that I know are going to improve throughout the summer. So just finishing up our exit interviews with all these guys. Got finals come up here pretty soon. Guys get a break, and summer one for us starts May 17th. Like this team, and looking forward to getting back together in fall camp and watching the progress continue.
Q. What did you learn about your QBs during the spring ball period?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, they're all capable. We felt like they would be from a talent standpoint. That's obviously why we recruited them. But Zerrick Cooper was a guy that didn't get any work hardly in the fall. So I got to see him really for the first time with competitive reps, and he did a good job. And I could tell he worked hard in our power hour in the fall, plus just mentally getting himself ready for spring.
Then Jadar Johnson, a true freshman that showed up in January. He got better as the spring went. The game was fast for both of those freshmen, but still saw a ton of progress and potential.
Tucker Israel, who is going to be a red-shirt sophomore. Also hasn't had a lot of experience, but mentally is in a good place as far as his understanding of what we've got to do and how we do things.
Then very pleased with Kelly Bryant. He was a guy coming in as far as, okay, well, he's a junior, had the most experience. He didn't have a ton, but had some. I thought he really asserted himself and took advantage of his opportunity this spring. He looked like a veteran. He's still got a lot of work to do as well. But it was very competitive.
We've got everything we needed at that position to win at a high level. We just, you know, still working through the process. If we played today, Kelly Bryant goes out, gives us the best chance to win. But we play in September. So there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. Should be fun to watch it all play out.
But like the guys, think we've got a high level of talent on campus. You know, I've got a good comfort zone that when it's all said and done, whoever runs out there is going to be very capable of winning, and I think we'll have more than one guy that's capable of winning for us.
Q. With the receivers, were you encouraged from what you saw in that position this spring?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah. We've got a good amount of experience coming back there with Ray-Ray, and Hunter Renfrow, and Deon, and Trevion Thompson. Those four guys have good experience going into this year. They've all made some big plays in big moments. But we really needed to see them assert themselves as the veteran guys.
I mean, you take away Artavis and Mike Williams and that's a lot of production and leadership. So both those guys stepped up, and I thought had their best springs. Certainly Ray-Ray, and Deon, and Trevion. I thought they were the best they've been since they've been here. That's what you want to see is guys progress. Then Cornell Powell, Diondre Overton, PJ Chase, three young guys that had a ton of opportunity this spring, and took advantage of it.
We've got a good group, and a couple others coming in this summer, that I think have a chance to get in that mix too. So it was very productive.
Q. Looks like it's going to be another big weekend for Clemson and the NFL Draft. What kind of advantage is it for your program from a recruiting perspective to continue to have so many guys being selected in the NFL Draft year in and year out?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, I actually just got up here to Philadelphia and appreciate you guys sticking around for me to do this at the end. I don't really know how to measure that tangibly. But certainly it doesn't hurt your program. I think anytime you're bringing young people in your program, and you see a lot of those guys having a chance to fulfill their dreams athletically and academically, I think that's a positive.
I think the biggest thing for us it's not just been the Deshaun Watsons that have come in and come in highly recruited and developed nicely and get drafted high and things like that. It's also the guys that, you know, the Grady Jarretts, the Adam Humphreys, those type of guys. The Deshaun Williams that come in and they're solid guys that they've developed at a high level throughout your program and get a chance to let it be a free agent or whatever go and fulfill their dream and be prepared to compete at that level. So it helped.
But I don't know how to measure a direct impact. What we're always after is trying to get the best player that fits our program, and have, you know consistency year-in and year-out.
Q. I know that you spoke to this kind of at the end of spring practice, but the recent NCAA legislation, now that it is official, can you speak to a little bit about how maybe it's overlegislation or maybe trying too hard there in your opinion?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, I mean, some of the stuff was great. I think as coaches we all love. But it was a situation where you couldn't break anything out. It was all or nothing. Then it allowed a few things to push through that coaches are just absolutely against.
It's disappointing, you know, that the biggest thing to me was how it impacted the high school coaches. When it comes to camps or guys having opportunities to move into college, this has really, really restricted that opportunity in my opinion. So that's the biggest issue that I have.
Not a big fan of the April, May, June official visit deal either. But then there were other parts that I loved. So it is what it is. I certainly made my opinion known. But if the right opportunities, but that's what we've got. So got to make it work.
Q. How would you, or have you even thought about it, handle your camps? I've been there and seen the amount of high school coaches that come in and work, and you can't ask them to come in and volunteer to work for free, but how do you handle that?
DABO SWINNEY: I don't even think they can do that, to be honest with you. I think they can come watch. But I don't think they can come and work it voluntarily. But we're going to hire as many college coaches as we can find, college staffs as we can find.
We've been in touch with a lot of lower-level college staff. We have an enormous amount of prospect that's come through our camps. You've seen that. They're not going to all come to Clemson, but our big thing is we want it get guys better, help them be better prepared to go have a great season for their team, special teams, but then I'm also, I want to help these guys be the best they can be, but also create opportunities for them.
We've always had a lot of college coaches there to just give them a chance to scout a lot of these guys. But it will just be a lot more of that, and we'll use as many players of our current players as possible. The problem with that is most of them are in school, so you've got class conflicts, and it's just a lot to manage with the amount of numbers we get for camp.
For some schools, it's probably not that big a deal, but for us, it's a huge deal. Because, again, we've run a football camp. We've not done a combine. We don't do Senior Days and run 40s and jump verticals. We coach football. I think that's why our camp has grown so much. I really do.
I think guys come and they don't have the pressure on them and they can really improve in their craft. We've had an enormous amount of coaches, so guys have gotten a lot of work. We've tried to minimize O-lines and things like that. We want guys getting a ton of reps. So we've got to find guys in the college ranks to come and work our camp and use as many of our players and all of our staff can make it work. It's going to be a new experience for us.
Q. Going back to the draft, how sentimental do you think it will be seeing Deshaun move on? It seems like you have a particularly special relationship with him?
DABO SWINNEY: Oh, it is. It's great to see these guys have opportunities. But you always have a special relationship with your players, but especially your quarterback. The quarterback and the head coach, there has to be a ton of trust and respect. That's the way it's got to be, and it's certainly been that way.
I saw a picture this morning, it was a picture of him at Gainesville, and a picture of him at Clemson. I said soon to be you're going to have another championship team to add to this picture. Excited to see where he's going. Just happy for him. It's a culmination and a ton of work. It really is. It's a great moment.
Deshaun is such a team player. But this is a great individual accomplishment and individual moment, and I'm blessed to be able to be a part of it and witness and experience it with him. Just can't wait to see that. He'll be the first one to thank everybody who has helped him get here. That's for sure. But this guy has put in the work and done it the right way. Just excited for him.
Can't wait, all of our guys, not just Deshaun. Mike Williams is another one that I think will go in the first round. Here's a guy that missed a whole year with a neck injury and just to see him come back and to fulfill this dream, what a great, great moment it's going to be for him as well. Hopefully we'll have eight to ten of our guys get drafted. And we'll have maybe ten or 11 guys get into camp and maybe get an opportunity to do something they've all dreamed about.
Q. How is Kelly Bryant's finger doing, and what is the lost of Garrett Williams with the torn ACL mean for you?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, Kelly's doing great. He's got a little splint on it, but he should be fine and ready to go when we get into our summer one. It's disappointing for Garrett. Garrett's a huge part of this year's team, and has been a major contributor force the past couple of years. You don't always see that in the stat line, but trust me, he's been a huge contributor for us as a team.
But he's a grinder. He's one of those guys that will be back. He'll exceed any expectations. That's just how he is. He's already, I would say, ahead of where most people are at this stage. That's just because of how he's other wired. I'm hopeful he'll be able to come back and jump back out there and be a major factor in this season. But you never know until you get back going to camp and you can really evaluate where that knee is. But he'll come back no matter what, better than ever.
Q. Deshaun was saying earlier this week he's anxious and nervous. I was just curious about the best piece of advice you give your guys each year as a waiting game sort of amps up, to maybe squash some of these nerves?
DABO SWINNEY: I just tell them they're going to go right exactly where God wants them to go, because that's the reality of it. He's done everything he can do. He's done it the right way. He's taken control, and now you sit back and wait to see where you're going to be. Then eyes forward, man. For us, it's always about what's in front of you.
Again, stay focused on the things that matter. The things that you can control. You've spent these last couple months with everybody attacking and talking about all the things wrong. As soon as his name's called, it's going to be reversed, and how great he is and everything that's right.
He understands that whole process very, very well and has a good demeanor about it. I think just anxious about where are you going to be living, and then you've got to get a place to stay, then just all the change that comes with it. Like, okay, for the first time in these guys' lives, they really are in complete limbo.
They've always been in control of where they're going. They've always known for a long time, hey, I'm going to be in spring practice at this time. I'm going to be in the summer workouts training for my season. I'm going to be going to this school. Because they got to choose their school.
Now it's just this one time they're in complete limbo because they're at the mercy of whoever picks them. So I think that's the interesting part. It's exciting. He knows he's going to go right where the Good Lord wants him to be, and then it's his job to go to work. So it will be fun.