There’s a certain formula to the Signing Day press conference, and Dabo Swinney said the magic words with emphasis: “more than met all of our needs.”
Outside of quarterback, the Tigers filled spots across the board in the 23-man class – but just how well did the Signing Day-surge set them up going forward?
Grading it out position by position…
Instant-Impact: Wayne Gallman (Grayson HS, Ga.)
Swinney Says (On Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman): “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.”
Analysis: Getting on the field as a freshman running back comes down to pass-blocking ability. With Andre Ellington’s exit, there’s one each left of the other classes, Roderick McDowell (senior), D.J. Howard (junior) and Zac Brooks (sophomore). The opportunity is there for Gallman and Tyshon Dye for early significant playing time. Coming in ready to roll in fall camp holds the key for both.
Instant-Impact: Mike Williams (Lake Marion HS, S.C.)
Underrated: Jordan Leggett (Navarre HS, Fla.)
Swinney Says (On 4-star 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.”
Analysis: Big bodies – Wide receiver Williams, 6-5, and tight end Jordan Leggett, 6-6, set this position class apart. And late-commit Kyrin Priester is in the Sammy Watkins body-type range, which Swinney says will make him a utility player in terms of receiver positioning.
Instant-Impact: OG Tyrone Crowder (Richmond Co. HS, N.C.)
Jeff Scott Says (On Tyrone Crowder): “Had a bunch of Shrine Bowl coaches tell me, ‘Man, this Tyrone Crowder is one of the most physical lineman that we’ve had the last couple years’…you’re always looking for a hard-nosed, physical offensive lineman and I think that’s what we’ve got with Tyrone Crowder.”
Analysis: Crowder is imposing and a beast off the line on tape, especially in run blocking, which is why he’s a Scout top-100 player. The other signee, OT Maverick Morris, is a bit of a mystery with just not much to go on really. With seven scholarship tackles and guards each already on campus, Clemson didn’t have to go heavy here, and Crowder’s coming to town carries the grade.
Instant-Impact: DE Shaq Lawson (Daniel HS, S.C.)
Swinney Says (On DT Scott Pagano): “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.”
Analysis: This is the part of Clemson’s class that right now is remembered for the misses (Robert Nkemdiche, Montravius Adams, Elijah Daniel), but down the road could help Tiger fans forget all about the roller-coaster 2013 recruiting cycle. Lawson comes in as the No. 1 prep signee per Rivals, but still underrated overall. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano and defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko hit campus as the No. 1 players from their respective states (Hawaii and New York), while DE Dane Rogers posted impressive numbers at Crest (N.C.). Next year’s d-line features zero scholarship seniors, making competition fierce over the next couple seasons to get on the field.
Instant-Impact: Ben Boulware (T.L. Hanna HS, S.C.)
Swinney Says: “Had we just gotten Dorian O'Daniel and Ben Boulware (Signing Day), 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.”
Analysis: ESPN analysts were impressed to say the least with Boulware at Under Armour All-American week, and Scout bumped him up a star-rating later in the month. Swinney said he’s “big-time special” and that could translate to the field right away. It’s not a position without competition though, with Spencer Shuey emerging midseason ’12 and Oklahoma transfer Kellen Jones eligible, but both Boulware and O’Daniel might be tough to keep off the field.
Instant-Impact: Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee HS, Fla.)
Underrated: Ryan Carter (Grayson HS, Ga.)
Swinney Says (On Korrin Wiggins): “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.”
Analysis: One-by-one, a position that needed a boost got just that on Wednesday – first, with safety Korrin Wiggins flipping from UNC, then Adrian Baker and Mackensie Alexander spurning programs like Oklahoma and Auburn to man the corners for Clemson. Alexander was the linchpin of the class, physical and talented, and safety Jayron Kearse (out of Sammy Watkins’ South Fort Myers HS) is a Scout top-100 rated player. Carter was as much a Signing Day-surprise as any, but Swinney is all-in on him and the tape shows he may be a bit better than his rating.
Underrated: T.J. Green (Sylacauga HS, Ala.)
Swinney Says (On Green): “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.”
Analysis: Green is one of a few signees that might play on either side of the ball according to Swinney, which includes linebacker D.J. Greenlee and defensive back Cordrea Tankersley. As he said, Green didn’t come on the radar until late, and Auburn offered after Clemson did. Green was unrated by Rivals at his position, but has size (6-3 195) and was a playmaker on both sides of the ball for Sylacauga. Without a nailed down spot going in, it may take a season or two to see him on the field.
In Dabo's Words: Signee-by-Signee Breakdown