The Clemson Insider recently spoke with the head coach of an elite prospect in the 2023 recruiting class to get a sense of where his head was at with the news that now-former Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell would be transitioning into an off-field role.
Stefan Adams, who is the head coach at Findlay (Oh.) High School touched on Caldwell’s departure and how the transition to Thomas Austin as Clemson’s offensive line coach could impact the recruitment of 2023 four-star offensive lineman Luke Montgomery.
Montgomery, of course, plays for Adams at Findlay and the two, along with Montgomery’s father, were in attendance for Clemson’s 48-27 win over Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021.
“It wasn’t solidified,” Adams told TCI. “Obviously, we’ve had connections throughout this whole from the start to the visit, we’ve had contact with Coach Caldwell. And then Coach Austin kind of came into the fold as well. We went down there and visited with him a little bit more, So we kind of figured something like that would wind up being the natural progression.”
Adams had a chance to talk with Montgomery following Dabo Swinney’s announcement last week that Caldwell would be transitioning into the role of the team’s director of high school relations.
“Just seeing it coming and having a little bit of an idea that he’d be stepping into that role,” Adams said. “Luke loves Coach Caldwell. I want to make sure I make that known first. Genuinely enjoy talking to Coach Caldwell and him talking to myself, and his excitement talking about Luke and Luke’s ability, first and foremost as a human being, but really more as a football player as well too. Coach Caldwell obviously is the man.
“Then, you kind of add to the fold in the Clemson way and add you, Coach Austin. Just in our conversations that we’ve had, Luke is definitely excited that Coach Caldwell is gonna stick around the program, but definitely excited to continue to get to know Coach Austin more and more and more as the process goes on.”
Obviously, Adams hasn’t had the level of contact with Austin that he’s had with Caldwell in the past, but he was left very impressed with how Austin handled himself and in which the way he made himself and Montgomery feel at home.
“There are key things to me that really stand out with coaches and their recruiting of a player,” Adams said of Austin. “He’s very genuine. One thing that really stood out to me once again — just being down there — was how much he talked about his wife and his family. How thankful he was for them. That was a big standout that family is important. How much he values his faith was huge. Once again, the genuine conversation is what stood out to me.
“I’ve been lucky enough to sit down with a lot of coaches at all levels and you love it when you have someone who is a genuine person, who is just themselves and you’re able to have a conversation for five minutes or 20 or 30 minutes and it’s all authentic and it’s real. Coach Austin was every bit of that. I really enjoyed getting to know him, his wife and his kids. We really enjoyed even taking a little mini-tour and checking out the facility with him as well too. He’s definitely a Clemson guy. He lives the Clemson way. It’s a big testament to obviously Coach Swinney in how he operates and runs things. He’s getting the best of the best and he’s getting these guys to come back and really step up into these roles. It’s very impressive.”
How does Montgomery feel about Austin?
“He loves him,” Adams said. “Loves him. Loves his energy. Loves his spirit. Easy to talk. Luke is an easy guy to talk to as well. He’s very upbeat, very outgoing. He really is an engaging individual. Those two, just listening to them and watching them converse throughout the whole time, there was a genuine relationship there and definitely an excitement about the future.”
Montgomery, who’s now down to Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma and Michigan in his recruitment, could be returning to Clemson in the near future. There’s a possibility he’ll be in attendance for the program’s Elite Junior Day on Jan. 29, according to Adams, and have an opportunity to see Austin in person for the first time since his promotion.