Tigers' third 2014 commitment rides bus for 22 hours to Clemson

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers received another boost for the 2014 recruiting cycle with Thursday afternoon’s verbal commitment by West Mesquite (TX) Mesquite safety Dylan Gardner.

Gardner, who has a chance to be one of the top safeties in the 2014 class, got an offer and made a commitment in the span of just a few moments Thursday.

“Coach [Dabo] Swinney was telling me how much he liked me, and he asked me if I had anything to say,” he told TigerNet shortly after committing. “I told him it had always been my dream to play Division 1 football. We have some other guys that have played, and I worked out with them really hard just to prepare for this camp. He told me he liked that, and then he told me I had an official offer.”

Gardner already had his response ready.

“I told him I was All In, and we shook hands,” he said. “I was ready to make it. Clemson felt like family. It just felt like everybody was on the same page, and all of the coaches were really cool. Clemson was actually better than I expected it to be.”

Gardner actually rode a Greyhound bus 22 hours so he could attend Swinney’s high school camp this week, and it all came about because of his favorite player.

He said he grew up watching Clemson’s Brian Dawkins during a stellar NFL career, and that is what he tells people who ask him why a player from Texas would want to go to Clemson.

“I tell them what I tell everybody, and that is that Brian Dawkins has always been my favorite player,” he said. “I grew up watching him, and it has always been my childhood dream to play here. I had this opportunity to play at Clemson, and I wasn’t going to pass it up. I am not Brian Dawkins, but I want to be the new version of Brian Dawkins.”

He said the Clemson campus was actually much more than he expected, and he came away as impressed with Vickery Hall as he was with the athletic facilities.

“I really loved Vickery Hall,” he said. “I really like the fact that you can get tutoring, because I am here to get a degree as well as play football. I like how Clemson was ranked really high in the APR, and how they are focused on grades.”

One of the highlights for many recruits taking a visit to Clemson is the chance to rub Howard’s Rock and run down the Hill, but Sumner-Gardner said he passed up that chance.

“I stood up there and I saw Howard’s Rock,” he said. “I wanted to do it, but I had to save it. I am not going to do any of that until my first game.”

As a sophomore, he recorded over 100 tackles for the junior varsity at West Mesquite.

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