By Will Vandervort
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney admits that beating Georgia is very important when it comes to recruiting the Peach State. However, it’s not everything.
Swinney spoke with the media Wednesday about the importance of beating the Bulldogs after No. 8 Clemson concluded its last physical practice in preparation of fifth-ranked Georgia on Saturday night in Death Valley.
“It’s important because we recruit Georgia like it is in state,” Swinney said. “I have been a part of big wins against your (rival) and you still do not get the guy when you think it might matter. Then I have been on the other side when you get beat by them and you think it might hurt you, but it doesn’t.
“At the end of the day, it’s a huge game and you have an opportunity to get so many people on your campus, and to have GameDay and all of that to showcase Clemson. I think that is the big thing.”
At the end of the day it comes down to the young man who usually makes decisions based on the program overall and what they feel like is the best fit for them and not what the outcome was for one particular game.
With that said, the outcome of a game can affect how a program is viewed and a victory over a top five Georgia team in turn can at least open up a door in future years that normally might be closed. In other words, it can have a lasting effect.
“I think the biggest thing is we have to do a great job in building relationships and recruiting that state very hard, and we do,” Swinney said. “We recruit it just like it is an in-state area for us. We are not going to be successful at Clemson if we do not recruit Georgia well, North Carolina well and Florida well in particular.”
Georgia has been one of the top recruiting states for Clemson for years. There are currently 15 players on Clemson’s roster that reside from there, including five—David Beasley, Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford, Garry Peters and Darius Robinson—that will start in Saturday’s game. The Tigers already have five verbal commits for the 2014 class from Georgia that include 5-star quarterback DeShaun Watson, 4-star receiver Demarre Kitt, 4-star tight end Milan Richard, 4-star linebacker Korie Rogers and 4-star running back Adam Choice.
The Georgia State line is only 20 minutes from the Clemson campus and Athens, Ga., where the University of Georgia is located, is only 76 miles from Tigertown.
“Heck (Clemson) is a lot closer to a lot of areas in Georgia where there are a lot of prospects than a lot of areas in our own state because of where we are positioned. It just makes sense that we put a lot of emphasis on being able to recruit that state very well.
“The fact that we play a tough schedule every year and that we develop our players and win consistently, can graduate with a great education, can go to the NFL and do all of those things, I think those are ultimately the things you have to have in your program to recruit well.”
Leggett could play. Swinney says there is nothing new to report as far as injuries go. He said freshman tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) is practicing and he could play if needed. Right now there plan is to have him available and only play him if they have to.
“That’s simply because of where we are game plan wise,” the Clemson coach said. “We feel good about the guys we have been working. It is probably going to be Saturday night when he is really feeling good, but if we have to have him I think he will be ready to play.”