Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina


by - Senior Writer -
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Swinney shows off his orange jacket Wednesday
Swinney shows off his orange jacket Wednesday

The winner of The Masters each April gets to don the green jacket. The happy head coach of the Clemson Tigers gets to wear a special orange jacket when he reels in a bumper crop of prospects.

Head coach Dabo Swinney walked into the interview area Wednesday afternoon fresh off another top ten recruiting class, and his bright smile was only outdone by the orange jacket he pulled out for the special occasion.

He was a little over ten minutes late to the press conference – he and the staff watched from the new football operations complex as Jackson Carman, the nation’s top-ranked offensive tackle for 2018, chose Clemson over Ohio St. and USC.

Swinney was all smiles as he walked into the indoor practice facility, and as he walked by I noticed the jacket. He looked back at me and said, “It’s an orange jacket kind of day.”

Indeed, it was. In case you missed it, Wednesday was the kind of day when championships are built.

“Christmas came a little early,” Swinney said. “This is exciting; it really is. This is the first time we’ve had an early signing period, and I love it.”

Four of the nation’s top nine ranked recruits are calling Clemson their new home. You read that right – four 5-star recruits that are considered to be among the top nine players in the nation are headed to Clemson.

The Tigers officially signed the nation’s No. 1 offensive player (quarterback Trevor Lawrence) and No. 1 defensive player (defensive end Xavier Thomas) in the 247Sports composite rankings. Lawrence picked Clemson last December and Thomas has been on board since last April.

Carman was the next 5-star to fall, and he was followed by the No. 2 ranked defensive end in KJ Henry.

The Tigers also added four-star back Lyn-J Dixon, a former Tennessee commit, to finish the day with 15 signees. The Tigers have the top player out of five different states with the chance to add a few more pieces between now and February.

"This is going to be our fourth senior class in a row that's leaving as the winningest class in school history. Fourth in a row, this group having won 50 games,” Swinney said. “The key word there is they're leaving. So anytime you have great, successful people leaving your program, it's the lifeline of your program to bring quality people in the front door. I feel like that's what we did today, and we're really excited about it."

While many Clemson fans were fixated on the possible destination of Cade Mays (he picked Georgia), I got a text Monday evening that told me to watch out for Carman. We saw Carman out in Oregon at The Opening in July and spent time with him in September during and after one of his games. We came away with the impression then – from talking to his coaches and people around the school – that he wouldn’t pick Ohio St. I said all along I felt like Clemson and USC were the two that were fighting it out for his services, and that came true Wednesday.

Perhaps the most interesting byproduct of Carman’s decision has been the chatter out of Ohio. For Swinney and company to go into Urban Meyer’s backyard and take away the state’s top prospect is no small feat and it has to rankle everyone associated with the Buckeyes.

Clemson defeated Ohio St. in the 2013 Orange Bowl, walloped the Buckeyes 31-0 in the College Football Playoff last season and followed that up by taking away a prized recruit. Ohio St. has – and rightfully so – prided itself on being one of the top two programs in the country the last few years. Along with Alabama, the Buckeyes have been in the thick of the playoff conversation while dominating on the recruiting trail.

You could make the case that they were second to Alabama, but Clemson might have passed the Buckeyes. Alabama has four playoff appearances, Clemson has three and Ohio St. has two. Clemson and Alabama both have three conference championships, while Ohio St. has two. Total number of wins over the last four seasons? Alabama is 51-5, Clemson is 50-6 and Ohio State 48-6. All three schools have a National Championship during that timeframe.

Yes, the people who have been paying attention know that Clemson sits among the nation’s elite. On New Year’s Day, if the Tigers beat Alabama, Clemson might be rightly regarded as the nation’s best program in college football today.

But win or lose, Clemson is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

I stood in the indoor practice facility a few hours later as Swinney, now decked out in a t-shirt and shorts, danced to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. I asked one longtime member of the program if they could have foreseen days like today when Swinney first wore an orange jacket back in 2008. He shook his head no, smiled, and said, “None of us could. But he (nodding towards Swinney) did. He has a sixth sense about him.”

He’s taken a sleepy college town in the foothills of South Carolina and turned the football program into a monster. He’s built a recruiting and development behemoth with a family feel and translated those three things into wins on the field. He told me in 2011, “They better get us now. We won’t be easy to get in the future. They better get us now.”

Yes, that monster sleeps no longer. It’s awake and breathing and hungry for more of everything – more wins, more recruits, more titles.

We’re all Thunderstruck, cause it’s an orange jacket kind of day.

Rate this Story:
80 votes

Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Post your comments!
Subject (Replies: 28) Author
spacer New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
TigerNet News
spacer To say that the Clemson family is thunderstruck
hartins®
spacer It really is an amazing ride
tigersincepell®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
JBTiger1980®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
Dugatiger®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
Orangeugladuatiger
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
8992Tiger
spacer Another enjoyable & personal sports article David...
lightbulbbill®
spacer I thought we were cycling out?
ATL PAW MAN®
spacer We don't just have a great football team
o2bnclemson
spacer Re: We don't just have a great football team
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: We don't just have a great football team
Dugatiger®
spacer Is this the Golden Age of Clemson Football?
Injun Tiger
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
Eagle03®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
Tigs577
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
mcaruso
spacer But we are scared to death of Muschamp.
TigerInJawja®
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
CootNDawgHater
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
rhettfla
spacer Justyn Ross
Tiger1616Dad
spacer Re: Justyn Ross
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer It’s a great time to be a tiger! Thanks Dabo!***
CootSmackdown16®
spacer Re: It’s a great time to be a tiger! Thanks Dabo!***
ddclemson
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
9 Lives
spacer Re: New Story: Thunderstruck: Swinney has built a monster in the foothills of South Carolina
BKendall36®
spacer Great article David***
97TigerPaw
spacer Great article, David Hood!
tigergirl78
Georgia OT picks up Clemson offer
Georgia OT picks up Clemson offer
Quarterback: Battle for starting spot heads into final week of fall camp
Quarterback: Battle for starting spot heads into final week of fall camp
WATCH: Deshaun Watson leads Texans 79 yards for first TD back
WATCH: Deshaun Watson leads Texans 79 yards for first TD back
WATCH: Mike Williams with remarkable TD grab
WATCH: Mike Williams with remarkable TD grab
Swinney looking forward to "interesting bus ride" into LSU's Death Valley
Swinney looking forward to "interesting bus ride" into LSU's Death Valley
Thursday's scrimmage a battle of the elite versus the elite
Thursday's scrimmage a battle of the elite versus the elite
Unfinished Business: Mark Fields looking to put it all together in 2018
Unfinished Business: Mark Fields looking to put it all together in 2018
WATCH: Deshaun Watson hype video "Doubted"
WATCH: Deshaun Watson hype video "Doubted"
Fox Sports analyst thinks Deshaun Watson could 'change the sport' of football
Fox Sports analyst thinks Deshaun Watson could 'change the sport' of football
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest