With all said and done, Dabo Swinney likes them all: from five-star, fourth-ranked cornerback Mackensie Alexander to 'no-stars' (according to his own description) offensive lineman Maverick Morris.
During his signing day news conference on Wednesday, Swinney warmed up for his appearance at the Fort Hill Clemson Club's annual recruiting-day celebration by offering his brief take on each of Clemson's 23 signees.
Cordrea Tankersley: "Hopefully, he’ll be able to join us by summer one. He’s a guy that I think has a chance to be a really, really good player. He’s got great size for the position.”
Ryan Carter: “Ryan is a guy – and I hate to label him - but I’d say he’ll be the Adam [Humphries] of this class. I really feel like this guy… when we look back on this signing class four years from now everybody is going to say, ‘Golly.’ "
Marcus Edmond: "He's a highly intelligent player, a guy that we were able to get late. He was committed to N.C. State. The situation changed up there. We were very fortunate to get back on him, as we evaluated him further, we really kind of fell in love with him. We got a chance to be around him – his character, his family. He can run. He’s got good size and good length. It’s really hard to find that when you’re recruiting corners.”
Inside NSD: Defense Breakdown
Mackensie Alexander: “He’s a guy that is a rare combination at that position. With his size and speed and ball skills, ability to finish plays, tackle and all of that. He’s going to bring a work ethic in here that I think is rare amongst young people. This is a guy that knows how to work. He is completely driven and focused on being the best that he can be. That’s the kind of thing that can rub off on a team.”
Adrian Baker: "Prime Time. When you see him, he reminds me of Coty Sensabaugh. He’s a little taller than Coty was, but the same frame and same type of speed that Coty had. I think that Adrian has got a chance to be a really special corner. I really do. We’ll have to, physically, develop him a little bit, kind of like we did with Coty. But I think he has a great future in front of him, from a coverage standpoint. He is a tough, tough football player. I really like Adrian Baker.”
Jayron Kearse: "I've not seen many athletes like him in the recruiting process. This guy is 6-4 and can play corner. He’s going to play safety for us. I really have no idea how big he’s going to be. He is a big framed. Is probably about 208 right now, and can flat out run. There’s no telling what he’s going to be. Has great ball skills and explosiveness and great range. I’m excited about him joining us at the safety position.”
Korrin Wiggins: “He was a huge, huge get for us today. Korrin is a great combination: he can play safety, he can play nickel, he could probably play corner. We really like him at the safety position. He's another one of those guys that I think is physically developed, kind of ahead of himself for a high school senior. He's a very mature young man that comes from a great family up in North Carolina. He's one of those guys that I think has a chance to help us early.”
Jadar Johnson: “He’s another mid-year guy. Jadar is an athlete that can play a lot of positions. We think he has a chance to be special as well.”
Dorian O'Daniel: "Had we just gotten Dorian O'Daniel and Ben Boulware today, we'd be doing cartwheels. 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."
Ben Boulware: "Ben is as good a prospect you’re going to sign in any recruiting class. This kid is big-time special.”
D.J. Greenlee: "D.J. is a guy who we know an awful lot about. He could probably end up on either side of the ball, but we’re going to start him out at linebacker. He’s one of those guys I think is going to turn out to be a fine player for us.”
Defensive Ends, Tackles
Shaq Lawson: “Shaq Lawson, I think, is as good a prospect as there is out there. He’s kind of like Nuk Hopkins was coming out of high school. Not a lot gets said about him, but he’s as good a player as you’re going to find. That’s kind of how it proved out with Nuk. I don’t think it will be any different with Shaq.”
Dane Rogers: "Dane is an outstanding prospect. He was MVP up there at Shrine Bowl week for North Carolina. What a great family. He's a fine young man from an outstanding high school. Dane is one of those guys who has been committed since day one. I think he has a great future.”
Ebenezer Ogundeko: "Ebo is a very special young man. As y’all get to know him, you’re going to know what I’m talking about. He’s different. He’s raw. He’s got a tremendous upside to him. Big motor, and is incredibly strong for a high school senior. I’ve been very impressed with what he’s doing in the weight room. He's a high character guy and just represents all the things we love. I think he’s got a chance to be outstanding.”
Scott Pagano: "He's the No. 1 player in Hawaii. This guy is the epitome of toughness. Look it up in the dictionary, this guy’s picture is beside it. He’s tough and he’s relentless. He has a great work ethic, wants to be a great player, and is willing to do the things that he’s got to do to be a great player. Football is important to him and his family. I don’t have any doubt that Pagano is going to be one of those guys who’s going to be a difference maker for us in this program for the next several years. He’s going to be a natural leader. He’ll come in here, easily, and be one of our strongest guys. I’ve never been around a high school guy that has the strength that Pagano has.”
Maverick Morris & Tyrone Crowder: "The offensive line was not a huge need in this class, but I think we hit a home run on both of these guys. They are Clemson guys, and both bring different things to the table. They're both good students, very, very good students. I’m excited about what they’ll bring to our guys up front.”
Inside NSD: Offense Breakdown
Swinney analyzes the offensive signees
Tyshon Dye & Wayne Gallman: "I think they’ve got a chance to be really special players for us. They’re tough, they're blue collar, and they’ve got great work ethics. They want to be successful. Probably, the best thing is that they’re already big, but they have the chance to be two of those big backs that we really have not had since Jamie Harper was here. We needed to get a little more size in the backfield. Both of these guys bring that, which is something we haven't had.”
Jordan Leggett: "He's here, and he's long, athletic, and can run. He brings the combination of skills that we want for that position. He’s got the size, and will be a big, strong guy that can give us a physical presence and create some mismatches in the passing game.”
Mike Williams: "Mike is easily the best guy in this state, a guy that we’re very familiar with. That was a big recruiting get for us. We think that he brings great size, character, work ethic, the intangibles, and tremendous ball skills. He's kind of got a little bit of everything. He’ll play big, just like he is. We lost Nuk Hopkins, who filled that role and we think Mike can do the same.”
Kyrin Priester: “Ky Priester is a guy that we really liked from the beginning. We filled up very quickly at receiver and we were pretty much done, but then when things changed, he was the first guy we called. I’m just thankful that we were able to get him. This is a very, very talented player. He’s got good size and can run. He can do things in the return game, also is a very intelligent young man, very smart.”
Up For Grabs
T.J. Green: "He could easily play on either side of the ball. There will be a battle for him. We’re trying to figure out what the best spot for him is as we get him in here and start coaching him. He is one of those guys we didn’t know anything about, hadn't seen tape, but then when we did, we knew he was special. We tried to keep him a secret, because we knew - we just knew - that as soon as we offered him, the in-state schools would be on him. I'm happy we were able to keep him.”