Transfers show Clemson a victim of its own success
|Sunday, February 19, 2017, 8:01 AM- -|
I woke up Friday morning to a text telling me that defensive tackle Scott Pagano spoke with the Clemson coaches Thursday and made the decision to transfer to another school. The first thought that popped into my head? Success claims another one.
Pagano graduated in December with a degree in sociology, and I get his reason for wanting to transfer. He can go to almost any other school in the country and not face the challenge of battling the likes of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Albert Huggins for playing time.
The decision – from everything I’ve heard – isn’t about the departure of defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks, who retired last month. Many have wondered if Pagano – who was recruited to Clemson out of the state of Hawaii – wanted to be closer to his family.
The truth is that his mother and two sisters moved to Central two years ago and live within five minutes of Death Valley. His dad is in the Navy and is stationed in Virginia and comes home every weekend, and there are aunts and uncles close by.
Pagano is a good player, and he rightfully thinks he has a shot at playing on the next level. He battled injury this past season and logged 299 snaps, but with Lawrence and Wilkins ahead of him on the depth chart I’m sure he knew he could earn more snaps at another school, giving him more tape for the NFL scouts to see.
Pagano is the fourth player to announce his transfer since the end of the season, joining running back Tyshon Dye, right tackle Jake Fruhmorgen, and cornerback Adrian Baker. Each player had a choice to make, and each decided to chase snaps at another school, looking for a fresh start elsewhere.
That’s where being a victim of your own success comes into play.
The Clemson football team exited 2015 with a chip on its collective shoulder, and while there were early defections into the NFL Draft, many players who had thoughts of transferring wanted to return for another shot at a championship ring.
The ring was chased, and the ring was earned. That’s something that will never be taken away, and with 2017 looking early on like a bit of a rebuilding year on offense, these players have decided they have to prepare for their futures. They've graduated or will graduate in May (except for Fruhmorgen) and they've earned that right.
Clemson is recruiting at a historically high level right now. Five-stars have become the norm rather than the exception, and they want to play right away. The fans want to see them, and now more than ever freshmen are making an impact. All you have to do is look at Lawrence last season – the true freshman was dominant from his first snap, and he took snaps away from older players.
That level of recruiting isn’t going away anytime soon, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables has plenty of options at defensive tackle. There are good corners on campus and more are on the way. Same thing for the offensive line and at running back.
Sometimes veteran players feel like once they fall down on the depth chart, it’s hard to climb out of the hole, and they realize it’s a business and that eventually, they have to make the decision that’s best for them. Most times, that decision isn’t what’s best for the program, and there are hurt feelings and anger with the players and coaches left behind.
It’s the price of winning a championship, and it’s the price of recruiting at such a high level.
Sometimes a team can be a victim of its own success.