Dabo Swinney knew Wednesday was going to be a good day when he got a text from former player Robert Smith early in the morning.
A safety for Swinney from 2011-’14, Smith told his old coach how it was seven years ago today he made the best decision of his life and how much of an impact coming to Clemson had on his life.
“That is just special, you know, to get that,” Swinney said.
The day got even more special when Clemson landed the services of 4-star cornerback Mario Goodrich of Kansas City and then 5-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, who picked Clemson over instate schools Alabama and Auburn.
“What a great day,” Swinney said. “This is always a fun day.”
Goodrich and Ross brought Clemson’s final total for the 2018 Class to 17, 13 of which were either 4- or 5-star prospects in high school. With the addition of Ross, Swinney and his staff signed six players—quarterback Trevor Lawrence (Georgia), defensive ends Xavier Thomas (Florida) and K.J. Henry (North Carolina), wide receiver Derion Kendrick (South Carolina) and offensive lineman Jackson Carman (Ohio)—who were rated as the No. 1 players in their respected states.
“Obviously, there was not a lot of drama today because fifteen guys signed in December,” Swinney said. “I love the early signing period and guys that went through it did as well. We had nine mid-years come in… I think it was just a better experience I think for everybody in the month of January.
“It is always fun when a young man chooses to come to Clemson because you lay your program out there and you talk about the vision of your program, what your common purpose is, what your core values are, what you are all about and how you do things.”
Ross was just the second No. 1 player from the state of Alabama since 2005 not to sign with the Crimson Tide. Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was the other in 2013.
Goodrich is the first Clemson signee on record from the state of Missouri. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back comes to Clemson after opening back up his recruitment when Nebraska made a change at head coach.
He picked Clemson over Georgia and LSU.
Clemson, who is coming of its third straight College Football Playoff appearance and third straight ACC Championship, is currently ranked No. 5 in ESPN’s Class rankings. It marks the eighth straight year a Clemson recruiting class has been ranked in the top 15.
“It’s a credit to show how consistent we are, but I never get caught up in the rankings because we have never had a No. 1 recruiting class, yet we are the second winningest team in the country over the last seven years,” Swinney said. “I don’t really get caught up in all of that stuff. I’m much more caught up in the development of our players.”
Swinney said “on paper” this is probably the most complete class he has signed since he had been the head coach at Clemson.
“This is a very special group,” Swinney said. “I have always been the one that says you should go and rank the recruiting classes four years later. To me, that is the way you should rank them … but on paper I think this is a very incredible class and very complete.”