SUNSET, S.C. — Todd Bates fell in love with Clemson after being brought in by Dabo Swinney to work his annual football camp in recent years.
So, when Swinney offered him the opportunity to be Clemson’s defensive line coach following the departures of Dan Brooks and Marion Hobby after the 2016 season, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I believe success comes down to the circle and the soil that you’re in,” Bates said on Tuesday at Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing from The Reserve at Lake Keowee in Sunset, S.C. “You’ve got to know where you can thrive, and I knew from the time that I visited Clemson and came to work camps that this would be an atmosphere where I could thrive and grow to the maximum.”
Recruits often cite the culture at Clemson as a main reason for choosing the school.
Bates feels the appeal of the family atmosphere as well.
“Coach Swinney, the environment that he’s created here at Clemson, it’s second to none,” Bates said. “It’s all about the people, and you feel that. Not just recruits — you can feel it as a coach coming to work camp or just coming to visit. You can feel welcomed.
“Everybody understands when they’re really welcomed somewhere and when the people really like each other and love each other, and that’s what I felt every time I came to Clemson. Immediately after coming and experiencing that, I was like man, I know.”
Bates, who was a four-year letterman at Alabama, comes to Clemson after spending the past three seasons as the defensive line coach at Jacksonville State. He held the same position at Idaho State in 2011 and 12, and then at East Mississippi Junior College in 2013.
With the Tigers returning plenty of talent and depth along the defensive line, including perhaps the best defensive-tackle tandem in the country in Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, Bates is primed for success entering his first season at Clemson.
“That’s a blessing, man,” Bates said. “It all happened in God’s timing, but just walking into the depth chart we already have at D-line and those guys coming in — playing for two national championships in a row and having that big-game experience — it doesn’t get any better than that. I couldn’t have walked into a better situation.”
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