CLEMSON — Clemson approaches recruiting distinctively different than its peers.
Dabo Swinney has different standards compared to most of college football when it comes to recruiting. He prefers to not offer a prospect until seeing them play or striking up a relationship. Instead of offering hundreds and hundreds of recruits, he opts to identify 50-100 players he really likes. That’s why Clemson offers seem to carry more weight.
He doesn’t host official visits in the summer, either, instead bringing possible signees to campus in the fall to experience the gameday experience. Swinney was a guest on the Colin Cowherd Podcast earlier this week and broke down his recruiting philosophy.
“The philosophy of our program is to serve their heart, not their talent,” he said. “That starts in the recruiting process to me. We’re incredibly transparent, like brutally. If you look at, I think we’ve had three decommitments in six years. That’s because we’re incredibly transparent. I hate the term, sometimes people say we got to derecruit ’em. If we have to derecruit somebody, we weren’t authentic, we weren’t genuine. We didn’t tell them the truth. I don’t want to derecruit nobody. I want them to know the way it’s going to be.
“If you don’t go to class here, you ain’t playing. If you’re not going to follow the rules and you’re not going to be a good citizen, if you’re going to be out smoking dope, whatever it is, you ain’t playing. It’s just that simple. Don’t come here. We’re not going to use you. We’re going to empower you, serve you hard. And it’s been like that since day one. That’s not for everybody. But we got to get the right guys. There’s been a ton of guys, a ton, who have all kind of offers that never get an offer from Clemson.”
Clemson has never put together a No. 1 recruiting class. The Tigers currently have just four commits in their 2022 class, all on the offensive side of the ball. That number should grow this summer with the NCAA recruiting dead period coming to an end on June 1.
With six consecutive trips to the College Football Playoff, Clemson’s brand has been on the rise. The Tigers inked the No. 5 overall class in 2021. Even with more and more players wanting to come to Clemson, Swinney is set on making sure prospects fit the Tigers program. The Tigers have not taken a transfer in years.
“I can spend five minutes with a guy,” Swinney said of how long it takes him to tell if a prospect is a fit. “I think that’s something that has led to our success. I never, we never sign transfers or junior college players. Everything has been through the draft, if you will, to this point. We may have to change or adjust, who knows. But that’s been our philosophy from day one.
“We’ve been a developmental, relationship-driven program. And if that’s your philosophy, you better be right on the front end. This isn’t a program, nine of 10 years, top-10 academically. You can’t have a lot of attrition and running guys off like that. Our kids graduate; we’re 98% graduation rate since I’ve been the head coach. That’s the No. 1 thing in our program.”