Recruiting stars? 7-on-7? To play for Dabo Swinney, you have to be a football player


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Hunter Renfrow would not have been a star at the combines, but ask South Carolina and Alabama if he can play
Hunter Renfrow would not have been a star at the combines, but ask South Carolina and Alabama if he can play

Summer football is all about 7-on-7 passing tournaments and camps, and the 7-on-7 culture has seen a serious uptick in recent years. If you want to build a championship contender in the high-stakes world of college football, however, you don’t pay much attention to it.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney knows a thing or two about building a program – the Tigers have been in the College Football Playoff the last three seasons and many think they will make it a fourth this season. He’s also won a National Championship, and he didn’t do it by watching 7-on-7 tape or paying attention to how many stars a recruit has beside their name.

He wants football players.

“It depends on if they are a wideout or a quarterback, you can take a little away from that like ball skills, but at the end of the day it’s a contact sport,” Swinney said last week. “You aren’t going to last very long if you are making all of your evaluations from 7-on-7 tapes or combines. You better see who can play between the lines.

“That’s why the Adam Humphries of the world are playing in the NFL because they get overlooked in the combine in all that stuff and the recruiting rankings. At the end of the day, you have to be a football player. So, I look more, way more into that, what type of player are they.”

Swinney said the Clemson coaching staff looks for football players, not necessarily those that measure well (like at Combines) but can’t play football.

“Sometimes people have a lot of measurables, but they aren’t very good football players,” he said. “Sometimes people have not many measurables, but they are a very good football player. So, I think the combines and 7-on-7 stuff, like I said you can kinda see guys. We do 7-on-7 every day because it’s a great way to teach your scheme, see who can process things.”

There are also drawbacks.

“It’s a challenge for the quarterback because it’s unrealistic, it’s a challenge for the DB’s because it’s unrealistic because there is no pass rush, no running game, and there is no play-action,” Swinney said. “But there’s still a lot of things you can evaluate that are very helpful. When we see them on the practice field getting a lot of reps and concepts, seeing where the quarterback's eyes are supposed to be with the secondary and how you evaluate those guys.”

However, football is still a contact sport and the only those who can survive contact survive.

“That’s all good but at the end of the day, it’s one thing to catch that ball over the middle with the guys out there with a t-shirt on,” he said. “It’s another thing when he’s got some pads on. It’s a different mindset so I have to evaluate. If you aren’t using football tape to evaluate you are probably going to make a lot of mistakes.

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