When Charlie Harbison left Clemson to become defensive secondary coach at Auburn, one of the first 'wish list' candidates to take a turn on the rumor mill was former Tiger star and All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins, who retired last season after 16 years in the NFL.
In hiring Mike Reed, the Tigers may be getting the next best thing.
Reed, a former all-conference performer at Boston College, helped coach Dawkins during his run with the Philadelphia Eagles between 2002 and 2006. Reed left the Eagles following the 2006 season to become defensive backs coach for Tom O'Brien at N.C. State.
Other than that connection, Clemson's hire seems - on the surface - to be a curious one. The sub-par performance of a highly-rated N.C. State secondary contributed heavily to the Wolfpack's inconsistency last season. In Clemson's game against N.C. State on Nov. 17, Tajh Boyd torched the Wolfpack secondary for 426 yards and five touchdowns in a 62-48 Clemson victory.
A year earlier, however, the Wolfpack held Boyd to 238 yards and intercepted him twice in State's 37-13 victory at Raleigh. That Wolfpack team set a school record with 27 interceptions.
Yesterday, Dawkins called Reed's addition to the Clemson staff "a great hire."
Reed was considered to be one of N.C. State's best recruiters, with strong ties throughout the ACC area, and particularly in central North Carolina.
His hiring has not yet been officially announced, so Dabo Swinney on Friday declined to specifically address reports that have named Reed as his choice.
“I can’t comment on any personnel decisions right now, but I'm excited about the direction we are about to go in," Swinney said. "But there is a process from a university standpoint that has to be done before I can comment on any hires. I think we will have a great guy on board, hopefully sooner rather than later."
Swinney said he's unsure whether a hiring will be made official before Clemson's bowl game.
“I don’t know," he said. "I do know that at some point it will be done before we get back out on the road recruiting.”