Dabo, the closer

Dabo, the closer

There's one significant weapon Clemson University has at its disposal as recruiting enters the home stretch.

And it's none other than its own head coach, Dabo Swinney.

Going all the way back to his time as an assistant coach, Swinney helped open doors for Clemson in talent-rich states like Florida and Georgia, backing down to no one.

In an era in which Clemson was struggling to find a true identity, Swinney helped provide it by signing some of the top prospects in the nation.

Remember C.J. Spiller? Of course you do. Swinney was the coach who was responsible for bringing him to Tigertown.

The five-star running back grew up in Lake Butler, Fla., just a short drive away from Gator Country and was also a huge fan of Florida State.

However, somehow he ended up at Clemson.

Spiller, a future first-round draft pick and Pro Bowl performer in the NFL, then helped pave the way for other prospects from Florida to the ACC in the ensuing years, including Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper, Sammy Watkins, Tony Steward and others.

Swinney was able to woo Spiller to Clemson by establishing a strong personal relationship with him throughout the recruiting process. There was a sense of trust between the two.

And it is those kinds of skills possessed by Clemson's head coach, I believe, that ultimately helped him get his current job while also becoming one of the best closers in the business.

If you can get the signature of C.J. Spiller on an LOI when virtually everybody in his family, and everybody he knows, wants him at either Florida or Florida State, you're doing something pretty special.

As we get closer to Signing Day on February 6, Swinney will be called upon more than ever for his ability to close- namely with in-home visits.

This late in the recruiting process, the in-home visit is virtually all that is left. Most official visits have concluded and the only ammunition remaining in the recruiting arsenal is sitting down with the prospect and his family in his living room.

Fortunately for Clemson, this is where Swinney excels unlike anyone else.

It's important to point out, his staff is also pretty savvy as well - from veteran recruiters like Dan Brooks, Robbie Caldwell to young guns like Chad Morris, Brent Venables, Marion Hobby and Jeff Scott, they aren't short on personality.

But Swinney seems to take it to an entirely different level with his approach... always has. It's as if he connects at the family level better than most other head coaches.

I've asked him about this numerous times over the years, and he always answers that it simply comes down to "personal relationships." He's right, but it's his "awe shucks" approach or down to earth personality that seems to win people over.

However he's figured this recruiting game out, he's done it better than most - and that means everything this year.

Remember, nearly every prospect remaining on Clemson's 2013 recruiting board is set to announce his decision on Feb. 6, with most pledges occurring on national television:

Five-star DT Montravius Adams will announce between Clemson and Georgia. (Dabo will make final in-home visit Friday, Feb. 1.)

Four-star WR James Clark will announce between Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and others.

Four-star OL Tyrone Crowder will announce between Clemson and Georgia.

Four-star QB Asantti Woulard will announce between Clemson, UCLA and others.

Three-star CB Adrian Baker will decide between Clemson and Oklahoma. (Dabo making final in-home visit today.)

Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson will choose between Clemson, Auburn and others.

You get the point.

Sure, the Tigers appear to be in a very good position with most of those players, but it will still make for a handful of tense moments two weeks from today.

And the last opportunity Clemson will have to make an impact face-to-face with these prospects, is the in-home visit.

Clemson's 2013 class appears to be poised for a major uptick these final two weeks, but that won't be finalized until Swinney gets in there for that final visit before pen meets paper on signing day.

Fortunately, there aren't many better at it than him.

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