Bowden Happy Despite 'Expert' Thoughts on 2004 Class

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Bowden led the Tigers to a 9-4 record and a #22 final ranking.
Bowden led the Tigers to a 9-4 record and a #22 final ranking.

Tommy Bowden will be live on "Sportstalk with Dan Scott" on Thursday at 10:06AM EST on WCCP-FM 104.9

CLEMSON - The way Tommy Bowden views it, there are two types of recruiting "experts" - those who know what they're doing, and those who don't.

Football coaches, of course, are the former. Headline-making recruiting analysts are the latter. That's why, despite what many fans and recruiting gurus might think of his 2004 recruiting class, the Clemson head coach said he was happy with the outcome of Wednesday's national signing day.

"That's the difference between experts and non-experts," Bowden said. "Most (recruiting analysts) never played or coached. You wouldn't go to a dentist or doctor who weren't licensed to do the job right. The guys putting the (ratings) stars up there, how many did (current CU quarterback) Charlie (Whitehurst) have, and how many guys with more stars did Charlie beat?

"The experts say we've been out-recruited every year I've been here."

Even without the expected class headliner - First Coast (Fla). wide receiver Mike McIntosh, who pulled a last-minute end run and signed with the University of Florida - Bowden said the 24 young men who signed their national letters of intent Wednesday will go a long way in helping the Tigers fill important needs.

Clemson signed four offensive linemen, including a pair of 6-foot-7 bookends in Greenville High's Corey Lambert and Mt. Pleasant's Barry Richardson. The Tigers also loaded up on the defensive line, inking a total of six interior linemen and ends.

They also landed a much-anticipated safety in Michael Hamlin from Lamar.

But it is the loss of McIntosh which seemed to catch most by surprise. Most, that is, except Bowden.

"It really doesn't surprise me at all. You get used to it," he said. "I've never been associated with a staff who got them all. There's always a surprise or two every season."

The other area of extreme focus will be the head-to-head battle with state rival South Carolina, who for the third straight year - according to the "experts" - appears to have won the in-state recruiting war.

And again this year, as is usually the case, a number of high-profile players left the state for presumed greener pastures.

Asked if the negative media attention on his program before the strong finish to the 2003 season had an effect on Clemson's in-state recruiting, Bowden agreed it could have played a factor.

"This is the first time in my five years here we haven't gotten some of the top guys, despite our momentum, despite our big wins, despite our graduation rates," he said. "But they read negative stuff about the program for six months, and it could have had an effect. That's the biggest difference from my other years here."

In other recruiting news, defensive end Shaun Branscome (Dublin, Va.) became Clemson's first commitment for 2005 when he chose to enroll at Hargrave (Va.) Prep rather than come to Clemson this fall.

The decision reportedly was based on Branscome's desire to improve both athletically and academically before beginning his college career.

2004 Clemson Football Signees

#1 OL Taylor Tremel (6-4, 260, 5.0) Lake Mary, FL

#2 WR Aaron Kelly (6-5, 174) Marietta, GA

#3 DB Brandon Croley (6-0, 180) Jacksonville, FL

#4 OL Bobby Hutchinson (6-4, 270, 5.1) Greenville, FL

#5 OL Tony Willis (6-6, 305, 5.3) Highland Springs, VA

#6 DB Adrian Kindred (6-2, 198) Opelika, AL

#7 DL Elsmore Gabriel (6-4, 250, 4.89) Brooklyn, NY

#8 ATH Phillip Morris (6-3, 192) Timmonsville, SC

#9 QB Cullen Harper (6-3, 200, 4.8) Alpharetta, GA

#10 DL Dorell Scott (6-4, 295) Columbia, SC

#11 DB Chris Clemons (6-1, 180) Arcadia, FL

#12 QB Tribble Reese (6-3, 190) Birmingham, AL

#13 ATH La'Donte Harris (6-0, 180, 4.5) Gadsden, AL

#14 TE Akeem Robinson (6-5, 259) Miami, FL

#15 TE/DE Xavier Littleberry (6-6, 240) Camden Military

#16 TE Phillip Merling (6-5 255, 4.7) Cordova, TN

#17 DB Michael Hamlin (6-2, 184) Lamar, SC

#18 OL Barry Richardson (6-7, 330) Mt Pleasant, SC

#19 LB Courtney Vincent (6-1, 220) Allendale, SC

#20 DT Rashaad Jackson (6-4, 290) Union, SC

#21 OL Cory Lambert (6-7, 290, 5.0) Greenville, SC

#22 LB Alex Pearson (6-2 240, 4.7) Greenville, SC

#23 ATH Durrell Barry (6-5, 245) Summerville, SC

#24 DT Corey Groover (6-3, 282) Summit, MS (SW Miss JUCO)

Complete Bio Info on Signees

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