Tigers did not find out they were getting nation’s top offensive tackle until just before he announced
Because everyone believed Jackson Carman was a lock to go to Ohio State, no one knew that Clemson had a shot at landing the nation’s top offensive tackle, not even Clemson.
Carman came to Clemson the weekend of December 8 for his official visit with his mother and had a great time. It was just the second time he had been to Clemson and the visit was a good one. However, the next week he went to Southern Cal and he had great time there as well, leaving many to believe if he did not go to Ohio State then Southern Cal would be his next choice.
“We really did not know, coming out of that Southern Cal visit, where we were,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said on Thursday. “It seemed like everyone around each program felt confident they were getting him except us.”
But that started to change the closer signing day approached. While everyone thought Clemson was going after Cade Mays, who signed with Georgia on Wednesday, the Tigers had really turned their attention to Carman and made one last push.
“We knew that we were in it more than what the outside (reported),” Scott said. “Everyone around here was focused on another guy and we were really focused on Jackson. It was kind of nice to keep that quiet because that is hard to do in this day and age in recruiting with all the different media sources and everything out there.
“So we knew we were in it, but we did not know if he would be strong enough, really, to pull the trigger at the end and choose Clemson.”
The Tigers definitely did not like their chances when Carman shut it down the night before and stop communicating with everyone.
So the next morning Clemson was doing its Signing Day Show when offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell got a text from Carman’s high school coach. The text said, “Okay, he is going to be a Tiger. He is getting ready to call Coach Swinney.”
However, Dabo Swinney was on the stage doing his announcements and talking about the 2018 Class. Scott had to get over to the other side of the stage, without distracting Swinney, and ask his wife, Kathleen, for his phone.
“So she went up to him and got his phone,” Scott said. “I was then holding his phone and he was trying to figure out what this was all about while he was talking. He was doing a great job and he kept it going.
“Finally, I looked down, and it was Jackson Carman FaceTime. So I had to interrupt and get Coach down to talk to him. Later I found out Coach actually did not know who he was FaceTiming with because I had to answer (the call) and then I got him in the hallway, and I think at first he thought it was Xavier Thomas. So he was trying to figure out what was going on and if everything was okay.”
But once Swinney figured out it was Carman, he really got excited. After Carman told Swinney he was coming to Clemson, Swinney had to go back and get on stage and act like he knew nothing because Carman still had to make his official announcement at his high school, plus he had to wait for the subsequent paperwork to come in.
“That was literally the first time we knew,” Scott said. “We knew his mom liked Clemson and we knew he liked it, but we did not know he was coming up until that point.”