Dabo Swinney talks mid-year enrollees, Hunter Johnson's impact

by - Senior Writer -
Baylon Spector will enroll in January
Baylon Spector will enroll in January

CLEMSON – Four members of Clemson’s 2017 recruiting class signed financial aid agreements with the school last week, and head coach Dabo Swinney says his program is getting more than just football players. It’s getting good people.

Four rising high school seniors signed financial aid agreements with the Clemson program and are expected to enroll in school in January. Those four are quarterback Hunter Johnson of Brownsburg, Ind, linebacker/defensive end Logan Rudolph of Rock Hill, S.C.; linebacker Baylon Spector of Calhoun, Ga., and offensive lineman Blake Vinson of Citra, Fla.

Financial aid agreements are non-binding, but the school that receives such an agreement is allowed unlimited contact with the prospect. Also, the schools are allowed to talk about and/or promote these prospects as if they were already on campus.

Johnson is listed as a 5-star by many recruiting services and is the number one overall pro style quarterback in both the Rivals and 247 rankings. Rudolph is a consensus 3-star who figures to transition to linebacker once he arrives on campus. Spector – a Clemson legacy – is a consensus 3-star who committed to Clemson a year ago this week. Vinson is number 250 overall in the ESPN300 and is a 4-star in both the Rivals and ESPN rankings.

The rules state that a prospect who intends to graduate from high school in the middle of an academic year and enroll early at a university may sign a financial-aid agreement on or after Aug. 1 of his senior year. Universities must verify that the prospect is on track to graduate at midyear before providing the agreement. Once signed, the agreement obligates the university to honor the scholarship.

In the past, midyear enrollees have signed, after beginning college coursework, with the remainder of their recruiting classes in February. This ruling gives those players an opportunity to secure their scholarships before the start of their senior years.

All four of Clemson’s targets plan to enroll in Clemson in January.

“It's just four more great young people. Four more great young people that just happen to be good football players who want to be here at Clemson,” Swinney said after Tuesday’s practice. “That believe in what we are doing and how we do it and they want to come help us take this program to a place it hasn't been in a long time. and has never been in some instances.”

The 2017 recruiting class is loaded with talent, and that includes Johnson, who figures to get a shot at what will likely be an open starter’s spot during spring practice.

“It's great. We have two of these guys leaving here after the season, so come January we are only going to have three quarterbacks on scholarship,” Swinney said of Johnson’s plans to enroll early. “And you're not just getting a guy, you're getting a phenomenal and a great young man from a great family joining your program. The fact that he is coming in January is just a plus.”

Many have wondered how Johnson fits in with Clemson’s offense – Deshaun Watson rushed for over a thousand yards last season – but Swinney said the Tigers don’t necessarily recruit dual threat players. They recruit true quarterbacks who can make plays with their legs.

“We recruit quarterbacks first. That is what we recruit. We want quarterbacks that can make plays with their legs,” Swinney said. “That's what we recruit and that's exactly what he is. I don't know what people call him, but all I know is that he is a quarterback that can do everything we need him to do with his legs. He can move. He can run. Very athletic. But he is a quarterback first. Just like Deshaun. Deshaun is a quarterback who just happens to be athletic and can make some plays with his legs."

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