By Keith McGonigle.
As I have been calling many of these recruits/potential Tiger’s I have noticed some trends. A lot of the times when I call recruits I feel like I have had the same exact conversation with another recruit. I think recruiting all comes down to a few important factors.
Recruiting is all about the coaches and their relationships with the players. My original belief is that recruits visit many schools and end up picking a school mainly based on ability to play early, national exposure, and fan base. But after talking to many of these recruits I have come to the conclusion that recruits really pick a coach or coaches not so much the school. I think the 3 most important things recruits look for in a coach is 1) personable – can you talk to him about anything 2) honesty 3) stability- is the coach going to pack up and leave if he gets a better job. For all three of these things I think Clemson’s coaches have a leg up on the majority of other schools.
Many of these recruits make it sound like the coaches that they talk to are almost father figures to them. They talk to the coaches about everything. Just look at the response from players like James Davis after Tommy Bowden got fired, and the immediate de-commitments by many recruits.
Most of these recruits realize that the recruiting process is almost like buying a car at car lot. The sales person/coaches will tell you exactly what you want to hear in order to get you to buy their car/sign with them. For some of these recruits all they really want to hear is the truth. New Clemson freshman running back DJ Howard and Demont Buice both referenced coaches’ honesty as the biggest factor for their decision to come to Clemson. Many recruits have mentioned that they some coaches have not been forth right with certain aspects during the recruiting process.
Stability is a very import to recruits because as stated before the coach is, in many ways, more important to the recruit than the school. Before Coach Swinney, Clemson had 9 ½ years of stability with coach Bowden, and considering Coach Swinney has already bought Clemson to the ACC championship game it does not look like he would be getting fired any time soon. Coach Swinney looks to be “All In” and I do not think he would be leaving Clemson any time soon unless he is offered the head coaching position at Alabama, his alma mater. This is a huge advantage over a school like Alabama and other schools where you never know if a Coach like Nick Saban will suddenly take another job in the NFL again.
From what I have heard the person that generally has the biggest impact on these recruits decision is not a coach, mentor or teacher but usually is their mom. Parents of these recruits see college as giving their son over to a new family for the next 4 years. So in many ways winning the parents and family over is almost as important as winning the recruit over. This has been the case so far with Cortez Davis, the teammate of 2011 running back commit Marlin Lane. Cortez was committed to Clemson and switched his commitment to Florida State. His sole reason was because “It was a family thing – I had an uncle that went to FSU.” Clemson has done an excellent job recruiting Cortez but because of family influence Cortez switched his commitment. Clemson is making another strong push for Cortez. Although Clemson has yet to get Cortez, I believe they have done a very good job of making the recruiting process about family. Many of the recruits do not just say that they like one of the coaches; they say they really like their whole family. The coaches want to make the players and the parents feel comfortable and feel as if they are like family right when they get to Clemson, so they will introduce a recruit and their family to their own family. Recruits have talked about having barbeques, playing basketball, and going to church with the recruits and their families.
What helps the coaching staff and I think is one of the most underrated assets for the Tiger’s is the fact that many of the players and coaches are very spiritual. I think this aspect gives the Clemson a huge advantage especially in the eyes of many parents; the fact that the Clemson coaches are religious and family oriented comfort the parents and recruits. This may have played a huge factor in bringing in CJ Spiller who is a very spiritual person.
Atmosphere – This is especially big for recruits that have never been to Clemson who do not realize how big of a football town it is. It is also important that Clemson is considered a pretty safe atmosphere and there is not a lot of clubs and other places around that players can easily find trouble.
Position Strength/ Position Success:
This works both ways. Receiver, offensive line, and linebacker have been Clemson’s biggest problems in the past so many recruits have said they want to come to Clemson because they know can get on the field. Generally, however, most of these recruits are very confident in themselves so it does not really matter who is on the roster. What matters is if they like the program, because most of the times they believe that they will be able to start eventually no matter who is on the roster.
What is more important is whether that position has had great players there before. Like at running back and defensive end. Clemson has ton of depth at running back but top rated backs still want to come here because of the success of CJ Spiller and James Davis. Same is true for defensive end, every year it seems like Clemons in bringing in 2-3 defensive ends that are highly rated. Having good players recently at a position is huge because recruits then say I want to go to Clemson and be the next Jacoby Ford or CJ Spiller or whoever.