Dabo recaps 2012 season, looks to the future

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CLEMSON – Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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met with the media Friday afternoon in the team room at the WestZone to recap the 2012 football season in a press conference that lasted just under an hour, and he covered a lot of topics.

Swinney said that Clemson’s 11-2 finish and Top 10 final ranking is indicative that the program is headed in the right direction.

“It was really a great year for us, proud of our team, proud of our staff and they’re competitive consistency, the consistency in their preparation, practice habits, their commitment off the field, all of those things, because everything counts,” Swinney said. “I’m proud how our players have bought in and how they’ve improved in a lot of areas. I think this year was just a culmination of steady progress over the last four years. We want to be the best. We don’t want to be one of the best. We want to be the best. I think we’re heading in that direction.”

Swinney was asked if 2013 could be “the year” that Clemson fans have been waiting for since 1981, and Swinney said he thinks the Tigers have the pieces in place in the trenches to make a run.

“I think we’ve got a good football team. I think that we’re probably going to be as good in the trenches as we’ve been in a long time,” he said. “It’s probably going to be the first time up front that we have the correct combination of depth, talent and experience. To me, that’s the most exciting thing. And we’ve still got a lot of youth. We’re not going to have any seniors on the defensive line next year… we’re only going to have two seniors on the offensive line. But, for a lot of guys, it’s going to be even better.”

Other notes from the press conference

On Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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“I felt like he would be back all along. He definitely needed to be back. Could he have been drafted? Sure, nowhere near where he would want to be drafted, nowhere near where he can and will be drafted with another year of production. You just look at the improvement that he had last year to this year, he’s going to continually get better. I think Tajh made a great decision. I think he’s got an opportunity to be even more prepared for that opportunity, and hopefully be able to go in and make more of an impact right out of the gate. I think it’s a great situation for us to have a two-year starter coming back, a guy who’s won 21 games in two years.”

On the hire of new secondary coach Mike ReedMike Reed
Defensive Backs Coach
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“One of the main reasons that he’s here, other than his success as a football coach, was because I actually met him when I was an assistant six years ago. He and I were both recruiting down in Jacksonville, Fla., I didn’t know him at all - that was the first time that I ever met him. You meet a lot of people in this business. I was just very impressed with how he handled himself, a very classy guy, tons of integrity, did things the right way. You come across different guys in this business. Some guys, you might want to go have a cup of coffee with, some guys, no way. He’s just one of those guys I enjoy being around and appreciated how he did his job, even though we’re both competing against each other. That’s why it’s important to treat people the right way, because you just never know. Mike Reed is, again, a guy that just jumped out at me. Then, you start studying the success he’s had as a position coach. He’s very impressive.”

On which area Reed will cover in recruiting

“He’s got a pretty good web, as far as his recruiting relationships out there. Primarily, you’ll probably see him down there in the Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina area, starting out.”

On the arrival of freshmen Ebenezer Ogundeko, Jordan Leggett and Jadar Johnson

“It’s, obviously, a transition. But those are three quality, quality players that we are really excited [about]. Getting Jordan was huge, getting him here mid-year. Big need at safety, so Jadar being here mid-year was [good]. Ebo is like winning the lottery. This guy has got great, great upside. The fact that he’s a mid-year guy, very bright, very smart young man, he is, I think, going to be a very special addition to our football team.”

On the recent rash of de-commits

"We hadn't had that here. I guess it was just our turn in the batter's box."

On an early signing period

"The ones who are truly committed would sign. The ones that don't, you know they're not committed so you better go start recruiting."

On wide receiver Nuk Hopkins leaving early

"I think it was close with Nuk. I felt like he needed another year. I felt another year would be beneficial to him from an overall growth standpoint. But that's my opinion."

On how he feels about Nuk

"He had a quiet confidence to him. Good players come and go, but Nuk Hopkins is a special guy to me. Also special to the people in this community. He's one of our own, right here. I don't have any doubt he'll be a great professional."

Brian DawkinsBrian Dawkins
#20 6-0, 200
Jacksonville, FL

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Swinney announced during the press conference that he was starting the Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be named for former Clemson and NFL great Brian Dawkins. Swinney told the media that the idea for the award gradually came to him after he received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award last year. Candidates must be at least 10 years removed from Clemson, and Dawkins will be the first recipient of the award. Dawkins will be honored at Clemson’s home basketball game Saturday.

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