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Clemson Football

Dabo Swinney Early Signing Day presser notes

December 18, 2019

Some quick notes from Dabo Swinney’s Early Signing Day press conference. The Tigers currently have the No. 1 class in the country according to 247 Sports and anticapted 23 players, 16 midyears, to sign today.

– What a great day. A fun day for the entire program. It’s always exciting to see a young man choose Clemson.

Not like the NFL where a guy has to go where he gets drafted. It’s been pretty cool over the last 17 years to see how our brand has grown. These recruits have grown up during this Clemson decade of football.  

– Tenth top-15 class in a row. We strive for consistency in everything we do. That was what I wanted to do when I got this job: strive for consistency.

Maybe this might be our first No. 1 class. That’s not a goal of mine and won’t lose any sleep over it. We sign guys who we believe is a five star. If we do, it’s just a credit to the young men. It just shows how our brand has grown and it just so happens that the best players in the country are a fit for Clemson and we are a fit for them.

You better have quality coming in the door because of the winningest senior class in the country. Anticipate signing 23 guys today. Most of these guys have been committed for a long time.

We met all of our critical needs. I try to hold everyone accountable and give them direction. Don’t jump into recruiting portal or sign other guys. Coaches get one shot to get the guy they want.

– We got a really talented team that is going to be coming back next year. We play the most freshman in the country. To have 16 midyears coming in, that will help our competitive depth on the practice field.

– Soccer signed a soccer player and they got a Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson type player. Tanner Tessman been at an academy since 8th grade. He could easily be a scholarship safety or wide receiver. 

– Our brand is strong - 12 states. We are even looking at guys outside of this country. We’ve got 15 guys graduating tomorrow, which is what I am most proud of.

– Defensive line coach Todd Bates has earned it as the new recruiting coordinator. He’s been here for three years now so it was nice to recognize him and promote him. He’s done an unbelievable job. Relentless and passionate about the recruiting world. It was a natural fit.

– DJ Uiagalelei is right at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and looks lean. He’s everything like the great ones we’ve had, but bigger. He knew exactly what he wanted. He knows he’s going to have Trevor Lawrence, Chase Brice, and Taisun Phommachanh in front of him.

Said, “Coach, I knew the first time I came to Clemson that this was the place I was supposed to be.”

He didn’t even go to Elite 11 this summer. He didn’t want to take away from his team. He led his team to a state championship. It speaks to his focus and he is a very selfless young man. He is a breath of fresh air.

He’s got a skillset that is special and unique. Some similarities to these guys we’ve had, but he’s special. Bet you we’ll have a sellout for the spring game, a packed house.

– Bryan Breese has Christian Wikins athleticism. He’s stronger, more heavy-handed and a little more violent at this stage coming out of high school than Christian Wilkins was.

– On two-sport athletes: I’ve got a lot of experience with two-sport athletes. Tanner is going to live the dream around here. Tanner is going to come in and compete right out of the gate. The easy thing is he’s not trying to play wide receiver.

– On Clemson’s brand: Since players have been six years old, they’ve been exposed to Clemson on TV. 11 years ago, people may not have known where Clemson was. Now people from all over are reaching out to Clemson. It’s a compliment to Clemson. It’s one thing to have a great place to live, but it’s another thing to have a great school. 

On Ajou Ajou: First time meeting him, introduced myself as “Dabo Dabo.”

We’ve gone international. He’s been playing in snow, he’s tough. Three-down Candian football. Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott went down to see him and they said, ‘wait until you see this.’ He barely knew how to get in a stance.

We have a guy that we are really going to have the chance to mold. His leaping ability is off the charts. He’s a freaky skilled guy. Between he and EJ WIlliams, we have two stallions there.

– On Early Signing Period and recruiting style: We’ve got to do a very good job and not be pressured by outside situations. I always say, “pump the breaks.” You have to know these guys. Knew Demonte Capehart through camp. Knew Desuhan Waton through camp. We have to protect our program. 

How many de-commitments do you see from Clemson? Not many. Our program has grown to where we can be patient. There are a lot of kids out there that they are not going to come to Clemson, but they want that Clemson offer.

It’s a life-long decision. I’m focused on our program. Trenton Simpson, I didn’t have a spot for him. He was patient and it worked out for him.

Walker Parks, when I offered him, he cried. Was neat to see his passion for wanting to be at Clemson and how he has earned his scholarship.

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