Swinney says
Christian Wilkins (42) and Austin Bryant (7) chose to return to Clemson

Swinney says "bad information" from mock drafts hurting juniors

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Dabo Swinney didn’t put a certain number of stars by the names of Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Kendall Joseph, Austin Bryant, Mitch Hyatt and Mark Fields during a recent press conference, but he didn’t have to. Their numbers and what those players mean to the Clemson program speak for themselves.

Swinney famously talked about “10-star recruit” C.J. Spiller when Spiller elected to come back to Clemson for his senior season. Clemson got a bevy of 10-star recruits when the abovementioned chose to forego the NFL Draft and return to Clemson for another year. Many expected at least two of those players to be certain first round picks, and Swinney said that simply wasn’t the case.

He even went as far as to say that the people who do mock drafts aren’t accurate because they aren’t the ones with money on the line.

“Golly, anytime you get a great player, a committed and great player who is a good person with high character, to have those guys leading the way is special,” Swinney said. “The bottom line is they didn't get the grade they wanted. That is the problem we have out there. There is a lot of rhetoric that gets created in that process for these people, whether it is this or this person putting out his mock draft. Well, guess what? That person doesn't own a team, doesn't get a pick, and has no influence, either. But then that gets put out there, and there is this machine. If you aren't really educated in the process, you can make some bad decisions based on bad information.”

Swinney said the Clemson staff endeavors to make sure the players have the best and most accurate information available when it comes time to make a decision.

“We try and do a great job, and we try and open the lines of communication. Woody (McCorvey) does a great job with that, of managing the communication with the guys in the NFL,” Swinney said. “He has great relationships with all of these people, and we try to give our guys the best information. Whatever they decide to do is what they have to do, but we want them to make a decision based on reality. And that's coming from the people that run the league. People who, this is their business.”

Ferrell and Wilkins didn’t get the grades they wanted.

“Christian and Cle got second-round grades and I think they had a real decision to make,” he said. “We had several people get on the phone with them to help them. And their goal is to be a no-doubt first-rounder, and they made the decision to come back and that is their reason. Simple as that. If they had gotten first-round grades from the NFL committee they would have gone, but they didn't. They got second-round grades. I think both of those guys are highly-motivated to come back and have great years.

“And then Mitch, I think he got a third-round grade and Austin was in there, too. Mitch kind of thought about it for about 30 seconds and said, well, I am coming back. And Austin had a little deeper decision on it. I know this, I was saving scholarships for them for sure. And then we had three guys who decided to leave.”

The three who decided to leave were wide receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain and safety Van Smith.

“Guys make their decisions. They give you a first-round grade, second round grade and then say stay in school. This is what they tell you,” Swinney said. “Sometimes they get the stay in school grade and they decide to leave and they have their own decisions. I just want them to truly understand their situation, the reality of the decision and the possibilities. As long as they are at peace with all of that, you support them. These guys have been awesome for us.

“Ray-Ray had his best year for us and I think he's got a great future and I don't have any doubt that he can play at the next level. Same thing with Van, and he understands his situation and his reality and this was something he felt like he needed to do. I just want them to finish school. To me, that is what I owe them. I want to make sure that box is checked. And Deon is ready to go be a pro. That is what it came down to, and he is ready to go to work. His best football is in front of him.”

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