CLEMSON – We often hear general managers and recruiting coordinators say their philosophy is to simply take the “best player available” regardless of need.
But of course we don’t live in, and teams don’t operate in, vacuums. There are holes to fill and the reality is for college teams like Clemson not only is National Signing Day its draft, but it’s also its free agency period.
Clemson placed need over BPA with its 2013 class and to this scribe it was a wise decision. Why?
In its history, at least since the 1980s, Clemson has not opened many seasons ranked in the top 10, where it will likely be in 2013. (Last month, Bovada.com had Clemson tied with ND and Louisville as the 8th most likely teams to win a national title in 2013).
Clemson is the Toronto Blue Jays of college football. This is the offseason to go all-in (trademark infringement, sorry Dabo). 2013 offers a rare opportunity.
While Clemson returns an elite offense led by a senior star quarterback, a potential 1st-round gamebreaker in Sammy Watkins, four OL starters, and one of the nation’s top OCs in Chad Morris, it had holes to fill on defense, particularly in the secondary.
How many times did we see Clemson defensive backs miss tackles, assignments and bust coverage in 2012? Too often to be an elite team. Clemson made Dylan Thompson look like Dan Marino.
Clemson went need heavy with its class:
*15 defenders (8 defensive backs)
*7 offensive players
*One undetermined in ATH T.J. Green
Refreshing to hear recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott say they actually targeted need over BPA:
“Defensive back was the No. 1 need,” Scott said. “It was evident before the season and throughout the year for us to be able to make a strong run like we are planning on doing we needed to get some help in the secondary. I think (needs) starts your class and then once you fill those needs it does become the next best player.
“The other thing that comes into this is your 2014 class. That’s something a lot of people maybe don’t look at. We have our 2013 class on side of the board and the 2014 class on that side … Do I take the third receiver this year or do I wait because I think we have a chance to take two special receivers in the 14 class? There are some calculations you have to make.”
I think Clemson made the right calculation in 2013 and the Tigers were a Nkemdiche and/or Adams signature away from an elite class.
*Swinney said Clemson will only sign 12 to 14 players in 2014 because Clemson already has so many young players on scholarship.
*Quarterback will be a priority in 2014 along with WR.
*Clemson does rave about 6-foot-5 WR Mike Williams in the 2013 class, who Scott said after watching Williams take three reps at camp they could tell he was “special.”
TONY ELLIOTT’S UNFORTUNATE PHOTO
Wednesday should have been a happy time for Clemson running backs coach Tony Elliott, a James Island native. He just received a Letter of Intent from five-star CB Mackensie Alexander, whom he was the point man on in recruiting. Big catch.
Instead, it’s a lesson that we must always be wary of our surroundings.
You could take from this photo that Tony Elliott is a huge fan of Twilight, notice the posters adorning the wall. How damaging could that be on the recruiting trail? (Twilight is a vampire/fantasy romance series and I only know this because of my wife, I swear)
At his press conference yesterday, Dabo Swinney even addressed the photo saying it was taken in the office of a female staff assistant. Suuuuuure, it was.
CLEMSON AND STATE PLANES
There was a Web report out today that painted Clemson’s use of a state plane as a gift from Gov. Nikki Haley.
To address this: state planes can be used by state agencies, like Clemson, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Clemson pays to use the plane.
Clemson has only one university plane, and during busy recruiting periods it often needs access to another plane. Clemson prefers to use state-owned planes over private jets.
BEVERLY NKEMDICHE ‘FRIENDS’ CLEMSON
Jeff Scott sent Robert Nkemdiche’s mother, Beverly, a Facebook ‘friend request’ last spring, Facebook is an important vehicle with which to connect with recruits and their families in the social media era.
After allowing the request to sit for a year, she accepted the request today, a day after National Signing Day.
Is that passive-aggressive behavior or what? Comical, right?
Nkemdiche’s mother declined to visit Clemson (or any other school besides Ole Miss) and did not want to communicate with the Clemson coaches, even though her son had committed there last year. Was she worried that Ole Miss might not really be the best place for Robert, that she could be sold on another school? Or did she simply not want to be bothered by another assistant coach?
What was clear through her public comments is that it was Ole Miss or bust for her son.
GET READY FOR THE WILD, WILD WEST, FOLKS
On August 1 some new NCAA deregulation rules are going to go in effect that will dramatically change recruiting as we know it.
And Dabo Swinney and Jeff Scott aren’t pleased about it.
“Ten years from now, we’re going to look back and say, ‘What have we created?,’” suggested Scott yesterday.
We know there will be unlimited texting, with Swinney guessing recruits will now received “200″ texts a day. But more significant is there will be no limitations on support staff and football-related buildings (think athletic dorms).
We’re about to see an explosion of spending.
Swinney predicts teams will begin creating scouting departments like pro teams, and even hire support personnel like graphic designers to create posters for prospective recruits since there will be no limits on mailings.
Perhaps most pricey could be the athletic dorms that are soon too follow, dorms that could resemble 5-star hotels and programs look for every edge
“I thought we were trying to cut spending?” Swinney said on NSD.