Swinney excited about newest Tigers

by - Senior Writer -
Dabo Swinney talks to the media about his latest recruiting class. (photos: fotoman)

Dabo Swinney Signing Day Press Conference Audio | Jeff Scott Audio

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about Clemson’s 2010 recruiting class and called the signing of Beaufort LB Justin Parker a “home run” while talking about how solid the class was overall.

Swinney began the press conference by referencing Clemson’s 2009 class of just 12 players.

“I just want to say how thankful I am to be at Clemson, a place that attracts great players and great people,” Swinney said. “It's a place that's an easy sell. We've come a long way in a year. Last year we signed 12 guys and were really excited about those guys. I'm probably more excited about those guys now than I was then. We hit on every single one of those guys. J.K. Jay is going to coach with us now, but all those other 11 guys that chose to start this off with us have done a tremendous job. I could not be more pleased with this class and the guys that chose Clemson.”

Swinney also said that it was good to welcome the new signees into the Clemson family along with two major holdovers from last season.

“It really never gets old to see young men choose Clemson over some great, great schools,” Swinney said. “These 23 guys that chose to come to Clemson could have gone anywhere coast to coast. I am also excited we were able to hang on to two other pretty good prospects, like DeAndre McDaniel. For him to choose to stay here is an endorsement for our program and our culture here at Clemson. About being the right things and graduating and growing. And I’m also thankful we were able to keep Kevin Steele. That's part of it too. When you have good coaches people want to try and hire them. The fact he stayed speaks volumes about our program.

“This is a very special place and I'm thankful for those guys. I never had any doubt we would be an excellent recruiting staff. And we really changed our entire recruiting process and overhauled it. I'm really pleased with the results we've gotten and we are already on the way for an outstanding 2011 recruiting class.”

The fact that the Tigers were able to fill in at some needed positions made Swinney happy, and here is how he broke down each of the positions.

Offensive line: The offensive line you always want to address; we signed four really good offensive linemen in Gifford Timothy, David Beasley, Reid Webster and Kalon Davis. Kalon is already on campus. We needed a couple of tackles and a couple of guards.

Tight ends: We were able to sign two dynamic tight ends in Sam Cooper and Vic Beasley. Tight end was critical for us given what we do offensively.

Wide receiver: Wide receiver was an area we needed to address. The three guys we signed are three really, really talented special wide receivers. We hit those needs.

Running back: I'm excited about the two young men we got with Demont Buice and D.J. Howard. They were on a magazine together I saw when I visited them. Very different kind of guys. Demont is a monster. Big, strong, 220-plus pound back that has great speed. Then D.J. is a little bit taller than C.J. and is a sprinter. He can fly.

Defense: On defense, we signed two ends that we couldn't be more pleased with. They could have gone to Alabama, Georgia, Florida or Auburn. They have gone anywhere in the SEC or ACC. Anywhere. Corey Crawford and Tavaris Barnes- great young men with tremendous family situations. They will be special ends here. Mark that down.

Defensive tackle: We didn't lose any this year but we are getting ready to. Three of our tackles will be seniors next year. Then we have a couple of juniors as well. Josh Watson enrolled in January- he's 6-5, 270 pound tackle. Then Tra Thomas was a young man we targeted early. Really thankful he chose to be a Tiger as well.

Linebacker: We ended up signing two players. One of them is Jake Nicolopulos. Let me tell you, I know everybody knows, he had a stroke at 18 years old. Last time I saw him he couldn't talk or move his right side. There isn't a player out there that exemplifies Clemson University more than Jake. When I saw that fax come through it just brought a smile to my face. He was able to actually sign his name today. It was legible. It was incredible. I talked to him on the phone and he was able to carry on a conversation with me. He has made tremendous progress. He epitomizes what being a Tiger is all about. He's up and walking now. He is on his way to eventually joining us here. Unfortunately I don't think he'll be able to tackle running backs, but I'm really proud of him. We did pick up a great linebacker just a little bit ago. As good as we have picked up here in a long time. Justin Parker - he's an outstanding prospect. He could play all three positions. Very smart. Great family. Will be a tremendous fit here at Clemson.

Defensive backs: We addressed our needs in the defensive backfield. Martin Jenkins and Garry Peters and Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland and Chaney they are a tremendous group.

Swinney said he was pleased with the efforts of recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott.

“Want to finish it with this, I cannot say enough about the job that Jeff Scott did. Let me tell you - he's a great football coach and a young coach who has a tremendous future in front of him. He's one of those guys if you give him something- watch out. He took this thing and ran with it. Give him a little direction and buddy he is relentless. He did a great job with his leadership role. I am very proud of him. He put his heart and soul into everything he was doing. He's smart, detailed and organized. He's a man of high, high integrity and I can't tell you how good I sleep at night.”

Swinney said the addition of Parker made a good class even more special.

“He's a difference maker as a person and a player,” Swinney said. “That is a home run for us. I love his family and I think he's a perfect fit for us. His ability is obvious when you turn the film on. He's got size. He's got great growth potential and he can run.”

Clemson Recruiting notes for 2010

•Clemson signed seven players from the state of Georgia today. That was the most for the program from Georgia since 2002 when Clemson also signed seven players from Georgia. The seven in that 2002 class included Nathan Bennett, who went on to become an All-American in 2006, and Chansi Stuckey who became a two-time first-team All-ACC receiver.

•Clemson had only seven players sign from the state of Georgia in the previous four classes combined.

•Clemson signed three players from the state of Alabama. Clemson has now signed 17 players from Alabama over the last seven years, or the seven years Dabo Swinney has been on the Clemson staff. Between 1990 and 2003, Clemson did not sign a single player from the state of Alabama.

•Clemson signed 23 players overall this year. The state breakdown: 8 from South Carolina, 7 from Georgia, 3 from Alabama, 2 from Delaware and one each from Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.

•Clemson signed six defensive backs, four offensive linemen, 3 wide receivers, 2 defensive tackles, 2 defensive ends, 2 tight ends, 2 running backs and 2 linebackers.

•Clemson signed two players from the state of Delaware. It is the first time Clemson has signed a player from Delaware since future All-American Jim Bundren signed with Clemson in 1993.

•The 23 signees today are the most since the 2008 recruiting class had 25.

•As of 5:00 PM on Wednesday, Clemson’s recruiting class was ranked 17th by ESPN.com, 18th by Rivals.com and 23rd by Scout.com. Clemson’s class ranked second best among ACC teams behind Florida Stat according to Rivals.com. Clemson’s class was third best in the ACC behind Florida State and Miami by ESPN and Scout.com.

•This marked the fifth straight year Clemson had a top 20 recruiting class by ESPN.com. Clemson was 13th in 2006, 18th in 2007, 2nd in 2008, 19th in 2009 and 17th in 2010.

•Clemson signed six defensive backs. Clemson’s defensive back group was ranked fifth best in the nation by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

•Max Preps announced an “early top 10 recruiting classes for 2011” late Wednesday afternoon. Clemson was ranked second. The top 10 was: 1. LSU, 2. Clemson, 3. Florida State, 4. Stanford, 5. Alabama, 6.Ohio State, 7. Louisville, 8. Nebraska, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Florida.

•Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said this class began on Feb. 23, 2008 when Martavis Bryant of Anderson, SC and T.L. Hanna High School was the first commitment. Bryant was the first in the class to sign and fax his letter of intent today (7:15 AM). Swinney said Bryant would fittingly wear number-one next season.

See Clemson's recruiting class here

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