* Listen to "Plyler on Sports" weekdays 4-7PM on 1070AM in Upstate SC. Also Listen to the Logan's Roadhouse's Sunday Night Recruiting Show with Mickey Plyler every Sunday night from 7 to 9 on 1070AM and 103.1 FM in Upstate SC. *
David Blackwell, a native
of Greenville and a graduate of Berea High School, fills the opening
on Bowden's staff that was created when Rodney Allison left Clemson
in December to become the head coach at UT Chattanooga.
What factors made you decide to come to Clemson?
“It was a situation where I know three guys on the staff. I know John Lovett. Brad Scott and Rock Stockstill are both very good friends of mine. They had contacted me just to see if I was interested, and I told them I was. The ball kind of rolled from there. It actually happened pretty fast. I know there were a lot of rumors going on for a long time. But there was really not a whole lot of contact until about week and a half ago or two weeks ago. With the Pittsburgh program, obvious I left a great situation. We finished the season ranked 18th in the country and preseason next year should be top 15 or top 10 program. Family had a lot to do with it, but obviously you can’t make a decision on emotion and on family. I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t believe this program was headed back to the top of college football. I really believe in the things that are happening here. This is a great place to be. That’s why I am here.”
Tell us your background in coaching.
I started my coaching career out actually on offense as an undergraduate assistant on the offensive line. Then I moved over to defense, and coached the rush linebackers for three years at East Carolina. I kind of cut my teeth a little bit on defensive play there. Then I coached the defensive line for two years, the whole front four - ends and tackles at Illinois State. Then I coached the linebackers at Illinois State for two years and I have been coaching linebackers at Pitt for the last three years.”
I know you will be humble about it but tell us why others consider you an outstanding recruiter.
“That’s kind of flattering. I tried to recruit a lot of the guys on this football team right now and wasn’t able to do it (laughing). We tried really hard. It’s been kind of neat to go in and sit down and talk to Mo Fountain, Charles Bennett, Ben Hall, Kelvin Grant, and a bunch of guys I know that I tried to recruit and wasn’t able to get the job done obviously (laughing). Recruiting is all about relationships and getting to know young men and their families and getting to where they can trust you and you can trust them. Hopefully you are able to develop some relationships. I know there are some guys here on our staff that are outstanding recruiters. They have done a great job recruiting. If I can help in any way I would love to.”
Now that you are on staff, what are your duties between now and signing day?
“I really haven’t been able to do a whole lot until I was officially named with the background checks and things we have to go through these days. Things are a little different than they used to be so things take a little longer. We haven’t talked a whole lot about that (my duties). If they need me to do something I am more than willing to do it. Obviously anything we can do to make our recruiting class better helps our football program. Coach Stockstill and Coach Bowden if they need me to do something I’m sure they will tell me and what to do. Right now Stockstill is on the road, recruiting and Coach Bowden is too so it’s hard for us to sit down and talk about that right now.”
How were you guys able to turn things around at Pittsburgh?
”It starts at the top. We had a strong administration that made some very tough decisions which was to build new facilities. Sometimes just the fact you have a big ole giant stadium sitting there people think you got great facilities. At Pittsburgh the facilities had kind of got dormant. They hadn’t done much to the stadium in years and years. So they made some aggressive moves. They built a brand new basketball complex, a $33 million football complex, and we shared a new stadium with the Pittsburgh Steelers which really helped recruiting. Then with Walt (Harris) and the staff he put together the guys got out and recruited well. He (Harris) is a guy that is a strong offensive mind and a good football coach. We were able to get some things going there, and the players really started buying into what we were doing. It was a lot of fun this year.”
What do you know about Clemson defensively?
I know that talking with John Lovett he is excited about the personnel we have, the young people we have on our defense, and the growth we have. I think the front four has a chance to be pretty good, and I think there is a solid group of linebackers coming back. I haven’t had an opportunity to meet a whole lot of players. I’ve been in and out. I’m just starting to get my feet wet on it. I have had a chance to sit down and look at a little film and I see some things that excite me. Obviously I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we have a chance to do great things.”
It has got to help you in recruiting that you are from this state, and you have been recruiting this state for so long now.
“Well that is one thing that does excite me is the fact that I am now back in the south. It’s hard to recruit the state of South Carolina when you are not in South Carolina. I do know a lot of coaches in this state from growing up. A lot of them knew me when I was very young. A lot of the older ones and younger ones are very good friends of mine. That part excites me. What ever area Coach Bowden and Coach Stockstill decide to put me in, obviously, I am looking forward to getting into it and getting after it.”
How does the football in the state of South Carolina stack up with other areas you have recruited?
“I’m a little biased. I’ve always said the football in the state of South Carolina is outstanding. There is a reason teams from all other country come down here and recruit. I think the high school football in the state is outstanding. I think the talent is outstanding and I think we need to keep those players right here at Clemson.”
What is your coaching style?
“I would say just listening to what some of my players in the past, they would describe me as fairly intense, pretty excitable, and more of in your face coach I guess. I like to have fun on the practice field. I enjoy practice. It’s fun. I could put myself in a lot of different categories but listening to my former players talk one of the words they always use is crazy (laughing).”
In your family growing up was it Tigers or Gamecocks?
“My brother was a huge Clemson fan as is most of my family. Myself I grew up going to the games, and I was a Clemson fan also, but I wasn’t quite into it like my brother was. My mother, my sister, my aunts, my uncles all Clemson fans. My grandfather was an IPTAY member for as long as I have been alive. That’s all I ever knew from him. He was a season ticket holder and IPTAY member. It’s been a big part of my life growing up. I have sat in that football stadium and watched a lot of football games with my grandfather, my father and mother. It’s something for my family that is very special coming back here.”
Congratulations on the move and look forward to talking to you again.
“Thank you very much and Go Tigers!”