Mickey Conn has coached, and coached against, a lot of talented players at the high school level over the years. The former head coach at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School compiled a 137-48 record during his 16-year tenure, with seven region championships and a state playoff semifinal appearance in 2015.
Conn, now a co-defensive backs coach at Clemson after joining the staff as a defensive analyst in 2016 and being promoted in January, is sure to tap into his Grayson roots on the recruiting trail for the Tigers.
“Absolutely,” Conn told The Clemson Insider. “No doubt. I left the Grayson program in great shape. I think they were No. 1 or No. 2 in the country when I walked out of the door, and there’s a lot of good players. A lot of good ones coming up, too, all the way down in the youth group.
“That’s the thing — I have a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old, so I’ve coached the youth teams in that age and I’ve seen a lot of good players at the young age coming up too.”
Conn will specifically recruit northeast Georgia for Clemson, as well as parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.
“I’ll have northeast Georgia, so I’ll be back there where I know a lot of people in that area,” Conn said. “And I’ve got a little strip in South Carolina and then the west part of North Carolina. So, I’ll have Greenville and Laurens in South Carolina, and like I said that northeast part of Georgia, which will be really good because I’m very familiar with that. I’m going to have to learn North Carolina, but I’ll be getting with coach (Dan) Brooks on that and he’ll be able to help me out.”
Conn, of course, expects to benefit from having been a longtime coach in Georgia, both from a player evaluation standpoint and because of the relationships he has built with other coaches.
“I think that the coaches will have a trust in me because I’ve been doing the same things they’ve been doing for a long time,” Conn said. “I think it will help me in the evaluation of the players and knowing what programs they come from and what they’re actually playing against, the competition, because some of these high-profile guys, they don’t always play against the same competition.
“Especially with some of the 7A, 6A schools where it takes a little time for you to become a starter — you may not start in the ninth or 10th grade like some places. You may be a junior and sometimes even a senior before you flourish, and I’ve seen guys that have done that and just took off. So, I think you have to be patient with that and understand hey coach, tell me who the next guy is, and I’ll be able to trust and believe them on that.”
As he’s scouting prospects, Conn isn’t just looking for gifted players with good size and speed.
He’s looking for playmakers.
“You can be the biggest guy in the world and fastest guy in the world, but if I look on there and I see he has no interceptions, that’s going to raise question marks to me,” Conn said, “because I want to see guys that make plays because defensively our job is to get the ball back for our offense. So, that’s what I’m looking for.”