Dabo Swinney: Kids talk, and the high school coaches know

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday July 13, 2017


Clemson is a top-tier program with top-10 recruiting classes, but it wasn’t always that way for Dabo Swinney.

He’s got a national championship now, but he used to have to push to get visits with some recruits. Now, high school coaches with top players are reaching out to him. Swinney reflected on that change over his tenure at ACC Media Days.

“I had to beg Tajh Boyd to let me come see him, try to just get in his house and try to lay out a vision for what we were wanting to build at Clemson,” Swinney said. “Now, as our brand has grown and we've had success, we're going to at least get a conversation. They're going to at least take the call, or we're going to get in the school and they're going to come and see us. …

Not only do they take our call or we get the visit, a lot of people are calling us. We have young men from all over the country now that would have never called us that want to come see Clemson, and I think that's pretty cool.”

The talent pool is bigger, but the evaluation and key factors don’t change.

The biggest selling point isn’t what Swinney or other coaches say, it’s what the players say and do. While on 1010XL, a radio station from Jacksonville, Swinney explained how the players play a role in Clemson’s increased recruiting success in Florida.

“It’s one thing to go and sign guys, but how are those guys doing in your program?” Swinney said. “Are they graduating? Are they growing as people? Are they developing as players? When you do a great job, those things resonate. Kids talk. The greatest ambassadors you have for your program are the guys in the locker room or guys that have been through your program. They’re either the worst ambassadors or the best for you. 

“When you see C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford, Sammy Watkins and so on, Artavis Scott graduates in three years, that resonates. The high school coaches know. They know what these guys are exposed to at Clemson and the culture we have. It’s not for everybody. They know they can win. They’ve seen guys come to Clemson and achieve everything. They’ve gotten a degree, grown as a person, career-development, play in the NFL, and they can win and have fun doing it.”

The Tigers currently have the No. 8-ranked class of 2018, with 11 players, including two from Florida.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.