Like college football programs everywhere, Clemson’s day-to-day operations are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes recruiting.
On March 13, the NCAA made the decision to suspend all in-person recruiting until at least April 15 in response to the coronavirus. March 1-April 14 was slated to be a “quiet period” per NCAA rules, meaning prospects could visit college campuses.
However, with the effective dead period in place, coaches and recruits cannot have any in-person contact. Dabo Swinney and his staff were able to host prospects for the first couple weeks of spring ball but won’t be able to bring in a bunch of top prospects for the spring game as they would under normal circumstances.
“With a couple weeks of spring ball left, we would typically have kids coming into practice and watching practice, and obviously the spring game is a big day for recruiting. We would have had a lot of people on campus for that, so that’s gone away,” Swinney said in a video released by Clemson Football on Wednesday addressing the current state of the program after the cancellation of spring athletic events and moving classes online.
“But other than that, at Clemson, we don’t do official visits in the spring. That’s something that I know a lot of other schools do, but it’s just something that we choose not to do. So, that part is not really any different for us. Really just being able to interact with recruits on campus that have come unofficially, and certainly coming in for the spring game, that part is different.”
April 15-May 31 is scheduled to be an evaluation period on the NCAA recruiting calendar, meaning coaches are normally allowed to visit high schools and watch prospects compete in person. But it remains to be seen whether the evaluation period will occur as planned, and Swinney is skeptical it will.
“Who knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re supposed to be able to be on the road the month of May in recruiting. So, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. My guess would be probably not, so that part is different. You can’t talk to them anyway when you go on the road in May. It’s more evaluation, and coaches have always enjoyed being able to go and watch spring practice and just check – we have a lot of boxes that we have to check in our recruiting process. That’ll be a little different, so we’ll have to make sure we do a great job with our film evaluation and gathering all the academic data and so forth that we need to get.”
Recruits are also allowed to visit schools during the evaluation period, so it is technically possible Clemson could host prospects again this spring depending on what happens with the coronavirus.
In the meantime, with all on- and off-campus recruiting suspended, Swinney and his staff are doing what they can to continue courting prospects – communicating with them over the phone like usual.
“If the university opens back up in May, hopefully people can come on campus. I don’t know, just have to see how all that goes,” Swinney said. “But we can still text all these guys. We can have conversations with them, they can call us and so forth. So, that’s what we’re doing.”
Looking ahead, the Tigers typically hold their high school football camps in the first two weeks of June, but whether those will take place is up in the air right now as well.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to have our camps in the summer, but who knows,” Swinney said. “I don’t think any of us know anything right now, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Regardless, Swinney loves how Clemson’s 2021 recruiting class – which currently ranks No. 2 nationally – is shaping up.
“I feel great about our 2021 class right now,” he said. “We’ve got 10 commits right now. We’re off to a great start and very focused on the guys that we want to fill our last few spots with. So, we’re in a good place. So, just being creative with our staff and using the technology that’s available to us.”
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