Spiller Signing Tops Third Straight Great Class For Tigers


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It was approaching 11:30 Wednesday morning and there were just a few names left on Clemson's recruiting board. To that point, all but three of the Tigers' previous commitments had signed their letters-of-intent to play football.

Clemson recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach David Blackwell was on the phone with Riverside High School's Richard Jackson waiting for Jackson's and teammate Michael Wade's papers to come through the fax machine.

At that moment, an eruption of yelling and clapping came from inside wide receiver coach Dabo Swinney's office.

Five-star running back C.J. Spiller, a late target by the Clemson coaching staff, had announced at a press conference in Lake Butler, Fla., that he was going to attend and play football at Clemson University.

"That was about the longest press conference I had ever sat through," said Blackwell, who was listening in while talking to Jackson. "When you're
sitting there waiting, wondering what is going to happen. It was exciting, even for me.

"I'm one of those who will say one guy doesn't make a class, but it was an exciting day."

It was an exciting day because Spiller became the icing on what was already a very sweet cake for Clemson's 2006 recruiting class. The Union County
running back was a first-team USA Today and Parade All-American, choosing Clemson over Florida, Florida State and Southern Cal.

Spiller was also the fourth Parade or USA Today All-American to sign with this year's class. In year's past, Clemson had failed to close on big-name prospects, but with linebacker Antonio Clay and running back James Davis coming on board last year and Clemson landing Spiller, Jackson and defensive linemen Jamie Cumbie of Illinois and Ricky Sapp of Bamberg, the Tigers are becoming a recruiting force on the national scene.

"In this case it worked out for us," Blackwell said. "It was a nice way to finish the class. There is no question.

"To go into Tallahassee and take the number ten player in the state of Florida, to go into Union County and take C.J. Spiller, to go into Illinois
and take a Jamie Cumbie - that's going to elevate our recruiting from a national perception standpoint. Right now, people are going to talk about
Clemson because of those guys."

Those guys, along with 15 others who signed letters-of-intent to play football at Clemson, give the Tigers a recruiting class, which ranks 14th by
Rivals.com and 21st by Scout.com.

Clemson also inked Kevin Alexander - a linebacker and Spiller's high school teammate - Crezdon Butler (defensive back), Jeremy Campbell (linebacker), JoJo Cox (running back), Jacoby Ford (wide receiver), Darius Gaither (defensive back), Chris Hairston (offensive line), Kendrick Jackson (wide receiver), Byron Maxwell (defensive back), DeAndre McDaniel (defensive back), Jamal Medlin (offensive lineman), Jeff Ogren (wide receiver), Michael Palmer (tight end) and Chris Russell (defensive end).

"It is a good solid class," Bowden said.

It's a class Bowden said, like most years, he lost sleep over while contemplating what might be in the minds of those 17 and 18-year olds he is
trying to recruit to Clemson. Bowden said he has had so little sleep these last few weeks he can recite a local infomercial which airs weekdays between 4 and 5 a.m.

But the lack of sleep is all worth it to Bowden and Blackwell, knowing with the WestZone project almost complete, getting some sleep should be easier in the future.

"We didn't go to a bowl game last year, won six games and had a fight, but had the best year we ever had, and we were minus three coaches last year," he said. "I think the faculties speak for themselves on the importance of
making that commitment."

Clemson made that commitment three years ago when it broke ground on the WestZone project. Bowden even referred to that little bit of dirt for the
reason guys like Michael Hamlin were attracted to Clemson then.

"I don't think we can underestimate the WestZone project," he said. "I don't think it is a coincidence or chance or luck that three years ago with
Michael Hamlin and that crew that we brought inŠ that we had a pile of red dirt over there and for some reason we had a good class.

"The next year we had some concrete and James Davis and that crew came on in here. This year we put some brick up there on that concrete and that's even better. I can't wait to see the potential this program has when that building is completed. You bring in four years of prospects at the
completion of that building and I think you are going to see the potential of this program being realized. I think we are just scratching the surface."

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