Clemson will hold its annual “All In Cookout” in just a little over a week, when the Tigers’ commitments and a select group of their targets in the 2019 class will gather on campus for an evening of food, fun and activities.
The cookout is one of Clemson’s signature recruiting events and always marks an important date, but perhaps even more so this year, with the change to the recruiting calendar.
For the first time this year, rising senior recruits were allowed to take official visits — paid for by the schools — from April 1 until the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Previously, official visits were not permitted until after Sept. 1 of a prospect’s senior year.
Unlike many schools, Clemson chose not to conduct early official visits this spring and summer. While the Tigers played host to prospects for unofficial visits, including for the Dabo Swinney Camps last month, the decision not to host early official visits makes the All In Cookout an even more important function for them.
“I think if anything it’s become more important,” Clemson recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter told The Clemson Insider. “It’s always been very important, but we just invite the 2019 guys. We don’t have any younger guys come, and there were some guys that could not come to camp. We didn’t do official visits, so it’s super important that we get those guys back on campus for this cookout.”
The All In Cookout will take place on Friday, July 27. A number of other schools are also having recruiting events that weekend, so Clemson is competing with some of those schools to get mutual top targets on campus.
“I think we’re going to get most if not all of them, and then some more that we’re still trying to get committed to us obviously,” Streeter said. “So it’s going to be a big day for us, no doubt.”
Clemson has held the cookout each summer for the past several years. Since it was first started by head coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson assistant Jeff Scott has seen some other schools shift from having a “Friday Night Lights” camp event and adopt the cookout model.
“I give coach Swinney a lot of credit,” Scott said. “I can’t remember the exact first year that we started the cookout, but there was a big movement going with the ‘Friday Night Lights’ and everybody doing some big event on the field, and coach Swinney really went with a different approach. He said, ‘You know, we had our football camp. That’s what camp is all about, and I don’t want these guys to feel like they’ve got to come and try out again.’
“What’s Clemson? Clemson’s known for family. It’s known for relationships. It’s known for spending time with the coaches and players and parents and all those type of things. So, it’s been interesting to watch a lot of people kind of move from that Friday Night Lights model to the cookout model, which I think is probably a big compliment to the success that we’ve had.”
The dead period on the college football recruiting calendar ends July 24 and resumes for all of August. Schools cannot have face-to-face contact with prospects or their parents during a dead period, so the All In Cookout will give Clemson another chance to host recruits before the season begins in September.
“It’s a great time for us because we get one last time to really spend some time with the prospects and their families before they get started with their season and before we get started with our season because the next time that we both slow down will be in December and January once the regular season’s over,” Scott said. “So, it’s always a critical part of our recruiting process, and something I think the guys look forward to as well.”
Clemson previously held the cookout in the Madren Center but now has the luxury of using the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex.
Not only does Clemson’s coaching staff invite its commitments and priority targets, but also their families as well as current players.
“Now we do it in our facility because we have so many things to play with,” Streeter said. “Every year we tweak it a little bit different, but we involve games and we utilize all the things that you see out there in the outdoor village and in the inside of our complex. We do a lot of games and eat a lot of food, and it’s a really just a time to mingle and have some contests and have fun with each other. We want it to be a relaxed environment, especially for the families to get to know our families.”