Clemson locked up the majority of its 2019 recruiting class when it inked 26 players on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period.
The Tigers signed all 24 of the commitments they held entering the day, plus added signatures from Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva four-star defensive tackle Tyler Davis and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) three-star offensive lineman Kaleb Boateng on Wednesday morning.
“These guys all have many opportunities, and when they choose to come and be a part of it, it’s always special,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday afternoon during his early signing day press conference. “I appreciate all of them. I appreciate their parents for believing in us, believing in me, believing in our coaches, our vision for our program. So, just really thankful to the young men that have chosen us.”
Clemson’s 2019 class is ranked among the top 10 in the country according to all of the major recruiting services, and as high as No. 5 by Rivals as it stands now.
Swinney isn’t big on recruiting rankings but believes his latest class has the chance to be another outstanding one.
“I don’t think present-day rankings really matter that much because that’s on potential. I think the rest of it’s based on performance,” Swinney said. “We’ve never signed the number-one ranked recruiting class since I’ve been the head coach in 10 years, but yet we’re second or third in wins over the last 10 years. So, I think that speaks to the evaluation and the development that we have in place here in our program. But I think this group will turn out to be special, and can’t wait to see what they do over the next four or five years.”
The 26-member 2019 signing class is Swinney’s largest as Clemson’s head coach dating to 2011, when the Tigers signed 29 players, including stars such as Sammy Watkins, Tony Steward, Stephone Anthony, B.J. Goodson, Kevin Dodd, Martavis Bryant, Grady Jarrett, Charone Peake and Adam Humphries to name some.
“You think about what they accomplished in ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14 and ’15 for our fifth-year seniors, like a B.J. Goodson for example… It’s amazing what that class went on to do, and that’s really how I measure those guys,” Swinney said. “Adam Humphries was in that class, and he was one of those guys on signing day, everybody was like, ‘Why are y’all signing that guy?’ And ole Adam Humphries turned out pretty good and is making a pretty good living playing pro football. And vice-versa – Sammy Watkins. Pretty good guy to sign too, and it was as advertised. I think time tells ultimately how you did.”
Clemson’s 2019 class is not only deep and talented, but also geographically diverse. There are 14 different states represented in the class, the most since Danny Ford’s last class in 1989 that also had 14.
“I think that is an amazing reflection of the strength of our brand,” Swinney said. “All these kids that have grown up watching Clemson and watching the success of our program on and off the field, and they want to come see and they want to come be a part of it. We all know that when a guy comes to Clemson, they realize this is a special place. So, it’s been really neat for me to travel around to so many different places and kind of validate and see firsthand why they chose us. Because when I go and I see their environment and their type of families, it’s very easy for me to see and get why exactly they chose Clemson – they felt like we were a good fit for them.”
Sixteen of the 26 signees are slated to be mid-year enrollees and arrive to campus next month.
“We’ve got a really talented team coming back that’s going to be a lot of fun to coach, so the 16 mid-years is huge for us because we have all these guys that are obviously moving on,” Swinney said. “So, just from a functionality of practice, to be able to have 16 new guys out there that are getting a head start as opposed to having to wait for the whole class to get here in the summer, I think that really is going to pay huge dividends and allow us to have the competitive depth that we need to keep moving our program forward.”
Thirteen of Clemson’s 26 signees are rated as a four- or five-star prospect according to Rivals, while 11 of the signees are ranked among the top 300 prospects nationally per 247Sports.
“We’re graduating the winningest senior class in ACC history, and if they can find a way to win two more, it will be the winningest class in college football history,” Swinney said. “So, obviously we’ve got some very talented individuals who are leaving, and it’s critical that we bring in a great group to replace them, and I think that we’ve done that.”
And the Tigers aren’t done just yet, as they will look to add a few more recruits to the class on National Signing Day in February.
“We’re not done with this class from a totality standpoint,” Swinney said. “We’ll see how it all finishes up, but to this point, an unbelievable group.”