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Junior College Football
Dabo Swinney Press Conference
Posted Feb 4, 2009
CLEMSON - Watch Dabo Swinney talk about Clemson's 2009 recruiting class.
: Just like everyday that we wake up here in Clemson. It's a great day to be a Tiger. It's a great day to be a Clemson Tiger. Really excited about my first ever class. Proud of these guys that chose Clemson today. Pleased with our staff and what we are trying to do. We only had 15 spots available this year. We originally thought we'd have 18 or 19 spots but when Ricky Sapp and C.J. Spiller came back and some others, it came down to 15. So it came down to quality. Top notch kids. Great players that fit Clemson. Trying to do that while trying to fill critical needs. We signed a dandy dozen today. We have three spots. There are some kids signing at other universities today that could have signed with us. So that gives us three more for next year. That will give us at least 20 next year. That will work out really really good. Tim told me before we came here today that this is the highest rated star average class of any class we've ever had.
We also have some preferred walk-ons who will be here. Unfortunately it may not be over in a couple of cases out there, but that's how it is.
Want to thank our coaches, who have worked seven days a week since Oct. 13. I really believe this is going to prove to be a tremendous coaching and recruiting staff. I've enjoyed being on the road the last couple of weeks with this coaching staff. We've already spent a lot of time with our 2010 class. I've spent most of my day on the phone with our 2010 prospects. Just feel really good about this staff.
I want to thank our support staff. Beth, Ren and Jill. They do an awesome job for us. Want to thank Joey Batson and his weight room staff. Coach Abernathy. Coach Greenlee, Coach Helms. Danny Poole and our video staff, Rick Bagby and Chad Lampman.
I want to thank Coach Bowden. He's still a part of this class too.
Want to thank our two pilots. I spend more time with them than my wife. Want to thank our players. Not many guys flunk out. Not many guys get kicked out. Not many guys transfer. Really want to thank our fans for making Clemson a special place and a really special place to sell. Most of all, I want to thank all our wives.
There's a little misconception out there that you were supposed to sign 25 every year. That's not the case. Wish it was. There's a more important number- that's 85. We had 15 spots we could go and recruit this year. Anything over 15 would have been an oversign. Those are a lot of variables. Or you could go and sign a bunch of guys that aren't going to qualify to get a high recruiting ranking. That's not my objective. My objective is to sign the best student athletes that are going to represent Clemson in the way we want to see.
Who can contribute early?
: Hard to say. I think we have two guys here in Malliciah and J.K. Jay who are going through spring practice. That immediately gives them a head start. Maybe Meeks at safety. Any of them. I'm going to play the best guy. It really doesn't matter who is penciled in at what position. When we tee it up in August, the best guys are going to go out on that field. It's early so it's hard to make projections and we have a veteran team coming back. Obviously, we've got a pretty solid group of running backs and an excellent group of wide receivers. We have good depth. Probably the biggest question is going to be quarterback and kicker. That will be where to keep your eyes on. We'll be better on both sides of the ball I believe.
Did you have to battle the coaching change?
It is what it is. No doubt about it. When kids don't know who the coach is going to be you are going to have other schools saying other things. But we were able to keep a nice core. At the end of the day.
Tajh Boyd competing for the starting spot. Is that possible as a freshman?
: Anything is possible at any position. I would say that's something no one can predict. We'll have to see where he is in the fall. We have some good quarterbacks here right now who will compete in the spring. We don't have somebody who has done it before but obviously some good candidates.
Talk about Tajh Boyd and he means to this class and to Clemson
: Great young man. Special kid. Great kid. He thinks on his own. Very cerebral young man. Very impressed with the questions he asked in our meetings with him. Very wise beyond his years. Here's a guy who blows his knee out third game of his senior year, and a lot of guys would say okay, let me get ready for college and get the rehab process started. But he says, 'no.' Throws a brace on it and goes out there to play. He's a winner. That was a very big deal for Clemson to be able to sign him. Really excited about Tajh. His mother had me laughing, saying "Dabo and Da-Boyd."
How much responsibility did you have your new staff
: A little of both. I wanted to get to work with them. I wanted to observe them a little bit. I wanted to get them out in their areas and they did that starting with their junior recruiting. We defined our areas and we are very sure of where we are going there. Because we were so focused with a few guys, we were very disciplined. We did a lot of group recruiting as well and that worked out well for us.
The ACC rule that penalizes any rule?
There's a rule for the NLI if you sign in February and then in August, then you say, 'nope I don't want to go there.' Very much aware of that rule. But the other one? Not until recently.
Was defensive line a position you feel like you may have missed out on?
We didn't feel like we had a critical need at defensive tackle. We lose one of our backups at tackle next year- Antwon Murchison. So this year is a critical need for defensive tackle. We'd like to sign two or three.
What about other needs
? We felt like we needed a safety. Last year at safety, if we get those three guys we won the lottery. And we got all three them. Rashard Hall, Carlton Lewis and Spencer Adams and then we redshirted all of them. Then we are moving DeAndre McDaniel back and now you add Meeks. Who is physical. So we'll have four freshmen along with DeAndre and Sadat Chambers. Then we have four corners. Plus we have two young corners we feel like we hit on in Sensabaugh and Xavier Brewer. We needed a running back and we got the best one in the state. Wide receiver- we feel really young there right now and feel like we hit on those guys last year. And then you add Bryce McNeal. Then at quarterback, originally, we weren't going to sign one then it became more of a critical need as went along the season.
How did you first hear about Malliciah Goodman?
Heard about him as a junior and then he was up here at one of our junior days and we liked him. Liked him on film. When we met him, we loved him. You can't meet Malliciah Goodman and not fall in love with this kid. When you shake his hand, it's unbelievable. Ran like a 4.5 something at a combine last year at 250 pounds.
What about Jonathan Meeks?
Very impressive young man. Actually played quarterback in high school and I had the opportunity to sit down and watch his film. His whole thing originally was academics and then he went up to Hargrave and got that in order.
How did you get in it with Boyd?
Once we started seeing what we wanted to do at quarterback. We saw what happened at Tennessee. You have to give Coach Pearman a lot of credit because of a great relationship with his head coach. No doubt about it. Billy and the rest of the coaches did a great job. This young man came through here in the seventh grade and Coach Bowden happened to be here and he came out and said hello to the kid. That always stuck in his mind. I saw a ball he had signed up there at his house and he told me about it. Coach Pearman got us in that one for sure.
How did you go up to Minnesota and get Bryce McNeal?
I hope I don't ever have to go back up there. I've never been so cold in my life. I showed up at his door and all you can see is the top of my head. His mama was laughing at me. Last spring, I sat down with Mike Dooley. I've got to give Dooley a lot of credit. I said, Mike I want the 10 best receivers in the nation, period. Outside of our general area. Mike went to work on that. He got the film and pulled it all together. He brought me about 15 tapes of different guys and went through it and got it to six or seven guys that were just great players. And Bryce was one of those guys you watch for about two plays, and you're like 'wow.' Then we got him on the phone and lets see if he's interested. Bryce is a very engaging young man and very bright and had a sincere interest. Mike [Dooley] did a great job here. Bryce went to Michigan and committed to Michigan before he ever made the trip here. Then he wasn't comfortable with that. Then we got him back for his last visit. He came in here and you know what? It was the right fit.
Who are you looking at for preferred walk-ons?
I can't say any names. Looking for a kicker. A snapper. Maybe another lineman or a good walk-on quarterback. Guys like that.
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