Evaluation has always and still is a big part of what Clemson does from a recruiting standpoint.
Former players like Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Malliciah Goodman, Josh Watson, Jordan Leggett, Kevin Dodd and Hunter Renfrow are all examples of players other teams passed on that Dabo Swinney and his staff knew could be good players.
Through careful evaluation and then development. Those players are the foundation for which the Clemson program was built, a program that now the face of college football, winning 69 games in five years, including two national championships and four overall appearances in the title game.
Next to Alabama, Clemson is one of the premier programs in college football.
And though the Tigers signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN, and is a top 3 class according to Rivals and 247Sports, signing guys like Bryan Bresee, DJ Uiagalelei, Demonte Capehart and Myles Murphy was not always the case.
“Ten years ago, we were not going to get a Bryan Bresee. Ten years ago, we were not going to get Christian Wilkins. We have had to really evaluate well,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Guys like Grady Jarrett through development … Grady, Deshawn (Williams), Josh Watson. Miguel (Chavis), Malliciah, Shaq (Lawson), (Kevin) Dodd. Dodd was a guy no one knew who he was.”
It worked out well for Clemson and for all the guys Swinney mentioned. All of them played in the NFL in some form or capacity and Jarrett is now performing as an All-Pro, while Beasley and Lawson were first round picks.
“We had to really evaluate well and occasionally, we got the guy everybody wanted, but not all the time,” Swinney said. “So, evaluation and development has been the key. Then, as we have had success, we have been able to get more of a finished type-product kind of guy. A Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence type of guy.
“That is the biggest difference. A lot of these guys come in now and they are ready to help.”
Swinney says a lot of the players the Tigers are getting are ready to play and contribute as true freshmen. Tyler Davis was the player last year who came in and earned a starting spot on the defensive line as a true freshman.
“Some of these guys now we are signing, they’re just further along when you watch them. That is why everybody in the country is recruiting them. Guys like a Christian, like a Dexter, who can pretty much help the day they show up. That is the biggest difference.
“Our evaluation is still critical. Our development is still critical, but we are just attracting more finished products.”
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