ESPN's Jamie Newberg talks about Clemson's Top 10 recruiting class for 2012

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson commitment defensive back Travis Blanks is ranked No. 11 on the ESPNU 150.

The Clemson Tigers have 10 commitments already on board for the 2012 recruiting class, building off of a strong 2011 haul that included Sammy Watkins, Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward.

TigerNet spoke with ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg on Monday to see how outsiders feel about this class, which includes six four-star prospects and is highlighted by defensive back Travis Blanks Travis Blanks
6-1, 180
Tallahassee, FL

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, who is No. 11 in the ESPNU 150.

TN: Why do you think Clemson is able to recruit so well in the state of Florida?

JN: For whatever reason, Clemson always seems to pull a couple of great cats out of the state of Florida. It seems like it has always been that way, though. Travis Blanks is one of the better players, and might be the best defensive back in the state. This is another great ‘get’ for Clemson, especially one from the Sunshine State.

TN: It seems like more and more kids are committing early – Clemson already has 10, Texas has 17, FSU has 10, Alabama has 13 and Florida has 12. What is the reason?

JN: The whole process has become so accelerated. Kids are getting on campus and seeing the schools earlier, and now there are summer camps. The summer camp season has become a significant part of the recruiting process. It seems like these unofficial visits are becoming more important than the unofficial visits. Team to team, the mantra is “Get these kids on campus as early and as often as possible.” I think that is why you are seeing so many kids commit so early. But it is getting ridiculously fast. There isn’t a break anymore.

TN: Are you surprised that head coach Dabo Swinney was able to pull in that much talent last season – coming off of a 6-7 year – and already has a potential Top 10 class for next year?

JN: Yes and no. He has always been known as a great recruiter, and he is at a great school with great facilities in a really good league. That staff does a great job, and they get out there in the state of South Carolina, in Georgia, in North Carolina and they do very well in Florida. That seems to be their spot. Last season, they got a couple of key guys early, and that recruiting momentum carried them and they closed well. And that has carried over into this season. I was talking to Chad Kelly Chad Kelly
6-3, 205
Buffalo, NY

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after he committed to Clemson last Thursday, and he said that he was excited to play with guys like Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, Mike Bellamy and Martavis Bryant. They are starting to gather a lot of weapons. But, recruiting has not been the issue. The next step is to win a league championship. I know there is a lot of pressure there to get that done. But they are certainly building a great roster.

TN: They do seem to be gathering a lot of weapons, whether it is at defensive back or linebacker or skill players. Do you now see them needing to concentrate on building up prospects along both lines?

JN: Absolutely. You can sign 25 Charone Peake or Sammy Watkins-type of players, and it doesn’t do any good unless you are winning at the line of scrimmage. The game can evolve all it wants, but it still comes down to who is getting to the quarterback and who is protecting the quarterback. They have to finish off this class with linemen on both sides of the ball, so I would expect they are going to go after those guys hard.

TN: What will it take for them to close out this recruiting class like they did with the class last season?

JN: I am sure they will close with their share. Right now, they are sitting at No. 2 in the league behind Florida St., and obviously what happens this season will be a good indicator. There will be some guys coming and some guys going, but they will get their share. This staff is very, very good, and between now and National Signing Day they will close well. Can they close like they did last year? I don’t know, but it might be predicated on how well they do this season.

ESPNU 2012 Recruiting Rankings as of June 17, 2011

2.Florida State
4.Texas A&M
9.Miami (FL)
14.Notre Dame

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