WASHINGTON, D.C. — When he was announced as Clemson University’s 15th president on Nov. 11, 2013, Jim Clements remembers saying that Clemson’s football program would win another national championship.
He was confident then it would happen, and on Monday, he stood on the steps of the White House in Washington, D.C., as the 2016 Clemson football team was honored by President Donald Trump for its national championship season.
“I said we’re going to win another national championship, and I really believed it then,” Clements said afterward. “I remember saying to Dabo (Swinney), we’re going to win a lot of games together. So, I thought this would happen, and I think it’s going to happen again.”
Considering the elite level at which the Clemson football program is recruiting, Clements has good reason to think that.
According to Rivals, Clemson has signed six top-15 recruiting classes since 2011, including three top-10 classes. After winning the national title and completing its $55 million Allen Reeves Football Complex in January, Clemson is poised to continue recruiting among the nation’s elite.
And a day like Monday certainly doesn’t hurt the appeal of Clemson’s brand to prospective student-athletes. All of the major media outlets covered the national championship ceremony at the White House, including ESPN.
“Think about this for recruiting,” Clements. “Just think about this, especially with the quality of the program we have, the quality and character of the coaches and the staff. You can’t beat this.”
It wasn’t just football recruiting that benefitted from the spotlight at the nation’s capital, however.
As he gave his remarks at the ceremony, Clements highlighted Clemson’s position as a top-25 public university and other academic achievements, while speaking on the “Best is the Standard” motto that Clemson strives to meet both athletically and academically.
“When I spoke, I made sure I worked in a couple of academic comments, too,” Clements said. “I had the platform, I was going to use it.”
President Trump also gave Clements and his staff a shout out during his speech.
“What people don’t realize about Clemson is that it is a great academic school,” President Trump said. “One of the top 25.”
President Trump’s comments were music to the ears of Clements, who knows Clemson’s visit to the White House was great for the university as a whole.
“I loved that he talked about us being a top-25 public institution,” Clements said. “That was great. The fact that he said that, while on ESPN, is not a bad thing. One of things that we’re proud of is we’re great in athletics, but we’re great in academics. So I think we literally have it all, which makes Clemson special.”