Tales from the Trail: Dabo happy batting '.500 with the Nigerian mamas'

Brooklyn visit with Bernice Ogundeko, Pearl Harbor tour with Scott Pagano's dad among coach's recruiting year highlights

Several hundred fans packed Jervey Gym for the 7th annual Fort Hill Clemson Football Recruiting Wrap-up dinner - Early enrollees Shaq Lawson (90), Ebenezer Ogundeko (58), Jordan Leggett & Jadar Johnson (18)

Photo by Mark Crammer

Several hundred fans packed Jervey Gym for the 7th annual Fort Hill Clemson Football Recruiting Wrap-up dinner - Early enrollees Shaq Lawson (90), Ebenezer Ogundeko (58), Jordan Leggett & Jadar Johnson (18)

First, the funny part: on Thursday, with her son finally signed and delivered to Ole Miss, Beverly Nkemdiche accepted Jeff Scott's year-old Facebook 'friend' request.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Dabo Swinney insisted that he really gets along quite well with Nigerian matriarchs, offering Bernice Ogundeko of Brooklyn, N.Y. as proof.

"I'm .500 with the Nigerian mamas," Swinney said.

And so ended Dabo Swinney and staff's 2013 recruiting journey, an adventure-filled roller coaster of a ride that that carried him from Brooklyn to Honolulu and most parts in between, and culminated with the signing of a 23-man class ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation.

Needless to say, there are stories to tell, as well as some that aren't likely to be repeated.

Swinney addressed the Robert Nkemdiche Circus only obliquely via his 'Nigerian mamas' quip and by making a point of emphasizing that Clemson's two Grayson High signees, Wayne Gallman and Ryan Carter, were not part of anyone's package deal.

Moving on, Swinney related stories about some of his favorite recruiting moments.

"There probably should have been a reality TV show following me and Dan Brooks going to Brooklyn," said Swinney. "I usually don't like to venture too far out of my comfort zone. But you look at our class and we got seven guys from South Carolina, five from Georgia, four from Florida, three from North Carolina, and then one each from Maryland, New York, Alabama and Hawaii.

"There were interesting stories, late nights, bad flights, and a lot of food. That's one of the bad things about being a head coach - everywhere you go, they just feel like they've got to feed you. So you're always hungry, and you love everything."

Swinney said his home visit to Ebenezer Ogundeko was a unique experience for both he and Brooks.

"We weren't going to even try to drive, so we hired a driver," he said. "It's a different world up there - Ebo travels by train and bus everywhere he goes. It was an interesting school we went into. There was a big fight that broke out while we were there. Of course Ebo doesn't flinch, and me and Dan were saying 'what's going on here?'

"Meeting his mom was just awesome. She just has an incredible spirit to her. That was all just a great experience. I had never been to Brooklyn, and it's a little different from Pelham, Alabama and Clemson, South Carolina."

Swinney said his trip to Hawaii to visit Scott Pagano was "phenomenal, once we got there."

"I wouldn't recommend a 10-and-a-half hour flight, being on the ground about 15 hours or so, and then flying 10 hours back," he said. "But we were able to have dinner with C.J. (Spiller, in town for the NFL Pro Bowl) at his hotel, and then went the next day to Monalua High School, where visited with Scott's coaches and family.

"Scott's dad is a lieutenant in the Navy, so they had set up a private boat and gave us a private, personal tour of Pearl Harbor. That was just a surreal experience for both me and Brent (Venables), to go and see the U.S.S. Arizona and the memorial, and see the ship still in the water with the oil bubbling up.

"That's one of the great things about recruiting, to be able to experience a lot of things and meet a lot of people. Those were definitely two of my favorite trips this year."

With the travel done, meals eaten and the results in, Swinney looked back on the 2013 recruiting season as an unqualified success.

"We got better today - that's for sure," he stated. "This is another step toward being the program we want to be...And best the thing is that this group is joining a very talented football team."

As for his own recruiting team, Swinney said he couldn't be more pleased with the work done by the son-and-father tandem of Jeff and Brad Scott.

"We've got a dynamic duo in Jeff and Brad - it's kind of a perfect storm from a recruiting standpoint when you've got two guys like that heading up your recruiting department. They're first class and they do it right. This is becoming old hat for Jeff Scott."

© 2013 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features