Frank Howard never had to worry about Twitter.
Neither did Danny Ford.
But times have changed, and for college coaches, keeping a handle on social media has become nearly as important as X’s and O’s.
When soon-to-sign quarterback Chad Kelly traveled to Clemson over the weekend for the Tigers’ Junior Day, one of the agenda items for Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris was to quell a war of quips between Kelly and current Tiger freshman and backup quarterback Cole Stoudt.
The Twitter exchange between the two turned a bit nasty – a back-and-forth in which Kelly stated his aim to remove Stoudt from his job, and to which Stoudt took offense and retorted, in effect, that he wasn’t worried about a rival who at this point was all mouth.
It isn’t the first time, of course, that a Twitter post has made news at Clemson. Tajh Boyd deleted his Twitter account prior to Clemson-South Carolina game after rumors spread that he had tweeted about USC’s defense being “average.”
Another tweet – which originated from the keyboard of Gamecocks’ radio commentator Todd Ellis, but which was attributed to Steve Spurrier – set Dabo Swinney off on a widely-viewed rant concerning his rival’s place in the college football universe.
And when they’re not fretting over the content of tweets, coaches are always keeping an eye out for flyers and notes using their players’ names to promote parties and gatherings at restaurants and bars.
It’s a new world out there.
For what it’s worth, everything is apparently cool now between Kelly and Stoudt…at least until Kelly shows up next summer and takes aim – with actions rather than words – on Stoudt’s backup job.
That’s something the coaches have a better handle dealing with.
A few notes from Clemson’s recruiting weekend:
- No new commitments came out of the Tigers’ first ‘Junior Day,’ though the coaching staff did deliver a scholarship offer to Daniel High linebacker D.J. Greenlee – the son of former Tiger track and field All-American and current strength and conditioning coach Larry Greenlee. The offer is the first for Greenlee, and continues Clemson’s tradition of mining its own backyard for top-level talent. The Tigers are also heavily in the mix for Pendleton, SC defensive tackle Michael Hill, who is projected as one of the state’s top overall players for 2013.
- The coaching staff hosted its final 2012 official visit over the weekend when Miami commitment Reggie Northrup – a linebacker from First Coast High in Jacksonville, FL – toured campus and met with coaches. Both Florida State and North Carolina are also pursuing Northrup.
- While the Tigers are hoping for a pleasant signing-day surprise or two to wrap up their second straight top-10 recruiting class, most of the focus at this point is on the class of 2013. Prominent among Clemson’s weekend visitors were offensive playmakers like running backs Wayne Gallman of Loganville, GA and Peyton Barber of Alpharetta, GA; wide receivers Ahmad Fullwood of Jacksonville, FL, Marquez North of Charlotte, NC and Michael Williams of Holly Hill, SC; and quarterback Carlis Parker of Statesville, NC.
- A player to watch for the class of 2014 is Deshaun Watson, a sophomore quarterback from Gainesville, GA who was offered by Clemson last summer, after his freshman season in high school. The 6-3, 190-pound Watson has racked up staggering numbers in his first two high school seasons: nearly 5,700 yards passing, nearly 2,000 yards rushing and 86 touchdowns – 66 passing and 20 rushing. Clemson was the first school to offer, and he’s since picked up offers from NC State, Central Florida and Vanderbilt. Among those also interested are Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma State.
- ACC commissioner John Swofford says that the ACC has no pressing need to implement an ‘oversigning’ rule such as the SEC recently adopted – simply because the practice hasn’t been a problem. While ACC schools sometimes sign more than the 25 players allowable in each class, they’ve generally been able to accommodate their numbers via without withdrawing scholarships. Currently just three ACC schools have more than 25 players committed – Miami and Virginia Tech with 27 each, and Virginia with 26. Maryland and NC State are next with 23 each, followed by Clemson with 20, North Carolina and Wake Forest with 18, Duke and Georgia Tech with 17, Florida State with 16 and Boston College with 14.