Dabo Swinney’s Summer Football Camps have several moving parts.
First and foremost, the camps are about the campers. The goal is to make sure each player has a good time and they get the kind of instruction that will help them from a fundamental standpoint.
The second step is to see if a kid fits in. Does he fit Clemson? Does Clemson fit him?
“Dabo does it different. That’s why we are special,” said Thad Turnipseed, Clemson football’s director of recruiting. “There are a lot of great athletes, just like there are a lot of great coaches. The key is to find the best people and that is what we look for.
“Of course you have to have the athletic ability, but there are a lot of them that have the athletic ability so the next thing we look at or ask ourselves is do they fit. Then Coach Swinney and the coaching staff can feel them out, talk to them and see if they will like us and we will like them. That’s the secret sauce here. We don’t take just anybody. They have to culturally be a good fit.”
That’s where Turnipseed and his staff, a.k.a “Clemson Google,” come into play. With nearly a 1,000 campers participating in the first high school session and 1,400 more expected next week, Turnipseed’s staff sifts through all the prospects and identifies the young men that truly fit the Clemson culture.
“We talk every morning before camp and after camp,” he said. “All the coaches are out on the road the previous six weeks so they have their good list and are ready to go and of course they have a list of names prior to that.
“That’s what we do during these high school camps. Who are we going to focus on? Who is going to be here? What are they like as a person? We verify what they are like as a person because sometimes only the assistant coach can see him out on the road.”
Turnipseed points out his office does not evaluate prospects on their football ability because it’s not their job, and second off, it’s illegal.
“Now, I know most people don’t follow that rule, but we do. Our job is to verify what kind of people they are and give them the best kind of experience as possible while they are here,” he said.
How does Turnipseed do that during camp?
“We have two roles. We have the younger camp where we are all out there, hands on and we are coaching up positions,” he said. “In high school camp my role various. If we have upcoming seniors to be, I’ll spend most of my days with those guys and do more like those. They are not in camp. They are on unofficial visits. I’ll take them around and show them the campus. If I’m not busy doing that, then I’ll jump in and help coach as well.”
There are about 15-20 unofficial visits to camp. Turnipseed and his staff will take their time and make an agenda to make sure the young man and his family has all the information they need, while leaving some time to ask any question about Clemson they may have.
From there, Turnipseed works closely with Swinney, recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter and the rest of the staff to organize and bring all recruiting activities up to speed.
“It never changes. People think it does because there are different seasons, but for us it is pretty constant, especially the way we touch guys on social media that the public never sees,” Turnipseed said. “The stuff Jordan Sorrells is heading up right now. Everybody knows what Jonathan Gantt does because they see it, but no one knows what Jordan Sorrells does because it is probably as much, if not more, because of all the messaging.
“Our graphic students are sending out all the graphics so that never stops. What we can do to make the nine coaches jobs easier is what we focus on. We try to help them recruit better, and they tell us who to recruit.”
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