Swinney elated with defense-heavy '13 class

Mackensie Alexander highest rated Clemson signee since Da'Quan Bowers in 2008

Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney discusses the 2013 recruiting class that signed with the Tigers on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney discusses the 2013 recruiting class that signed with the Tigers on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Mackensie Alexander leaned to the microphone, reached into his lap, pulled out a Mississippi State hat and placed it on the table. He followed with a Clemson hat, and then, after pausing for dramatic effect, shattered Auburn's hopes by pulling out a third hat, this one adorned with a large Tiger paw, as he announced that he'll spend his next four years "at the University of Clemson."

Tiger fans will forgive him his verbal fumble.

The highest-ranked player to sign with Clemson since Da'Quan Bowers in 2008, Alexander is rated as the No. 2 cornerback and the overall No. 4 player in the nation by ESPN. He put the first layer of icing on Clemson's signing day cake by parting ways with his twin brother, Mackenro, who sat beside him moments after choosing Auburn as his college destination.

Why Clemson, the Immokalee, Fla. star was asked?

Inside NSD: Defense Breakdown

"I wanted to be my own man and do my own thing," said Alexander. " Dabo Swinney is a good guy - a church guy like me. We're going to win the national championship, you know."

Several hours later, Tyrone Crowder, ESPN's No. 2 offensive guard, finished off Clemson's 23-man signing class by choosing the Tigers over Georgia in another nationally-televised announcement.

Clemson ended the day with a class ranked 12th nationally by Scout, 13th by ESPN, 14th by Rivals, and 15th by 247Sports. It was a third straight top-15 success story for Dabo Swinney and his Clemson coaching staff, whose only signing day disappointment came when Montravius Adams, the nation's top-ranked defensive tackle, picked Auburn over the Tigers. His mother later told ESPN that Clemson was a close runner-up.

Earlier in the day, the Tigers got a pleasant surprise when long-time North Carolina commitment Korrin Wiggins, a defensive back from Durham, N.C., flipped his choice to Clemson.

The Tigers then won a head-to-head with Oklahoma for cornerback Adrian Baker of Hollywood, Fla., a former Florida State commitment, and then deepened their secondary haul by adding Ryan Carter, a teammate of running back signee Wayne Gallman at Grayson High in Loganville, Ga.

The Tigers finished the day with eight additions to their defensive secondary.

"It's a dynamic group, with a big emphasis on defense, and in particular defensive back," said Swinney. "We were already under in our numbers. Our number at DB is 14, and we got in a bind this year because we got some guys hurt, and the next thing you know (wide receiver) Adam (Humphries) is having to play DB.

"I feel like we hit a real home run with our defensive backs. These are all guys that we liked and spent a lot of time evaluating. We got length, we got speed, we got guys that are coming out of great programs, and we're adding some really dynamic guys both at safety and at corner. Half of them will probably play and half of them will probably redshirt, and that will be for them to determine who that's going to be."

While Clemson's recruiting emphasis was clearly on the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers made some key additions on offense, as well. Swinney said the Tigers "hit it out of the park" with the additions of running backs Gallman and Tyshon Dye of Elberton, Ga. He said the two players filled the Tigers' second greatest need, and that he expects both to develop into 220-pound backs with the ability to run, change direction and catch passes out of the backfield.

Clemson added a pair of ESPN Top 300 wide receivers in Kyrin Priester of Snellville, Ga. and Mike Williams of Lake Marion, S.C., and Swinney predicted an internal squabble among Clemson's offensive and defensive coaches for who gets first dibs on 'athlete' T.J. Green of Sylacauga, Ala.

"This is just an awesome day - this is going to be another top-15 class, and these are all guys who had a lot of options," Swinney said. "We hit on a few today and got a few more late in the process, but majority of them have been committed for a while. When a guy chooses to come be a part of your program, that's the ultimate compliment.

Swinney expressed appreciation for the players who committed early and never wavered as the recruiting process played out.

"We got a couple of really good linebackers - had we just gotten Dorian O'Daniel and Ben Boulware today, we'd be doing cartwheels," Swinney said. "Those are guys who've been leaders in this class, and I really appreciate those guys. They've been committed from day-one and have been solid, and they sort of set the standard for everybody else - them and guys like Wayne Gallman and Tyshon Dye and Jordan Leggett and Jadar Johnson and D.J. Greenlee. They're the ones who, in my opinion, set the standard for the rest of the class."

Greenlee continued Clemson's pipeline to Daniel High School, while another Lion, defensive back/receiver Adrien Dunn, will join the program as a preferred walk-on.

Inside NSD: Offense Breakdown

Swinney analyzes the offensive signees

Of the handful of targets that got away, recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott said that while Clemson is able to go "toe-to-toe" with the best programs in the country for the best players in the country, "when you get into that realm, you're not going to get them all."

"There's a difference between need and greed, and I think everybody has a tendency to get a little greedy," said Swinney. "We more than met our needs with this class. When you take these guys and mix them into our roster with the guys who are already here, I think we're going to be able to have the competitive depth that you have to have to win at a high level consistently."

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Comments » 4

Big_Cat writes:

Great job to Dabo and the staff. Our 2ndary is as good as anyones now. We are truely "TOO DEEP!" All In! Goooo Tigers!!

TrevorT writes:

Excellent job of bringing in the talent we need where we need it. Let's hope some of these guys are ready to step into a serious role and help us make a title run this year. GO TIGERS!

Apollyon_1 writes:

Great recruiting class Clempson. Well done and I am sure the use of Gov. Haleys state plane to make recruiting trips made the ride much more enjoyable. Oops did I say that? If only AIM had an investigative reporter.

FutureClemsonFootballPlayer writes:

in response to Apollyon_1:

Great recruiting class Clempson. Well done and I am sure the use of Gov. Haleys state plane to make recruiting trips made the ride much more enjoyable. Oops did I say that? If only AIM had an investigative reporter.

How the ill-informed make a fool of themselves... Clemson sold one of the university planes to the state. Every time Clemson uses the plane, they have to pay maintenance and docking fees to the state. Also the pilots of the "now-state" plane have to fly a certain number of hours to keep their licenses. The only reason Spurrier doesn't use the plane is he recruits mostly in-state, look at the recruiting class differences, most of Clemson's recruits are out-of state, Ebo Ogundeko is from New York, Ryan Carter is from Georgia, and Mackensie Alexander is from Florida. Most of USuC's recruiting class is from NC, SC, and GA, trips not necessarily needing a plane. Think before you type lol stupid coot

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