CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dabo Swinney remembers what it was like to recruit when he first became Clemson’s head coach nine years ago, the struggle it was to get a good shot with high-caliber prospects like Tajh Boyd.
After leading Clemson to six straight 10-win seasons, three ACC titles, seven bowl victories, including five against top-10 teams, two national championship appearances and a national title in 2016, Swinney has seen things vastly change on the recruiting trail.
“It’s changed a lot,” Swinney said on Thursday at the ACC Football Kickoff at the Westin Charlotte. “You know, I had to beg Tajh Boyd to let me come see him, try to just get in his house and try to lay out a vision for what we were wanting to build at Clemson, whereas now, as our brand has grown and we’ve had success, we’re going to at least get a conversation. You know, they’re going to at least take the call or we’re going to get in the school and they’re going to come and see us.”
Not only has Clemson’s program risen to the level where it is now consistently in the conversation for top recruits — Swinney has found that oftentimes recruits are starting the conversation.
“That’s been the biggest change is a lot of people, not only do they take our call or we get the visit, a lot of people are calling us,” Swinney said. “We have young men from all over the country now that would have never called us that want to come see Clemson, and I think that’s pretty cool.”
For a while, Swinney and his staff had to work hard to sell Clemson and its vision to prospects, convince them to come check out the school. With it becoming easier and easier to get prospects on campus, Swinney believes Clemson sells itself.
“We’ve got a special place here, and when people come and visit, it sells itself,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. If we can get guys on campus, we know that we’re going to get our fair share of the right guys.”
Swinney admitted Clemson wouldn’t have landed Christian Wilkins, for example, seven years ago. At the present, Swinney has two of the nation’s top three prospects committed to his program in five-stars Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas.
Things are much different for the Tigers on the recruiting trail these days.
“We wouldn’t have got a Christian Wilkins seven years ago, but because of our success, you know, we reach out to a guy and he’s like, yeah, I’d love to come see Clemson,” Swinney said.
“I think that’s the biggest difference from where we were obviously when we started, because now we’ve got some results that we can share about the vision of our program and the academic success, the athletic success, the development, as opposed to eight years ago it was, this is what we hope to go do and build.”
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