Dabo Swinney says there's a reason besides tradition and convenience that keeps Clemson's coaches returning to knock on the door at nearby Daniel High School.
"When you get one of their guys, you know what you're getting," said Swinney on signing day, after Clemson added linebacker D.J. Greenlee, defensive end Shaq Lawson and preferred walk-on defensive back/wide receiver Adrien Dunn to its roster.
"When you look at the guys we have on our team and who've been here, even looking back many years before I got here, we've had quality players from Daniel High School. We had Jarvis Jenkins and we know what he did here, and then here comes Nuk (DeAndre Hopkins) and he's left his footprint here, and now DeShawn (Williams)."
Clemson has been recruiting from Daniel for decades, dating back to the Dick Singleton era at the school.
Current Lions coach Randy Robinson says he's been pleased to carry on the tradition by sending Clemson players well-prepared to contribute early in their careers.
“I think Jarvis Jenkins and Nuk Hopkins really get a lot of credit for this,” Robinson said. “They went to Clemson ready to play, played as freshman. I think Clemson realized our guys are going to go down there and play. They’re not going to redshirt. They can play as freshmen and help the team win.”
Clemson's current crop of Daniel alumni also includes sophomore C.J. Davidson, who came to Clemson on a track scholarship as a state champion jumper, but is now concentrating solely on football. Davidson worked last season as both a defensive back and running back.
"C.J. is guy on our football team right now that I think is going to be a factor," Swinney said. "He's a little behind, but what a really good athlete he is. I'm looking forward to seeing him this spring and coaching him up a little bit."
Another Daniel player on Clemson's roster is defensive back Jerrodd Williams, who began his college career at Virginia Tech before transferring to Clemson. Williams played on special teams for the Tigers last season, but has been plagued by injuries, including two broken legs.
"Jerrodd is a guy that we really love having in our program," Swinney said. "We're just hoping that now he can stay healthy."
There's no end in sight to the Daniel-Clemson connection. Following in the footsteps of Lawson, Greenlee and Dunn, next year the Tigers have a commitment from running back Jae'lon Oglesby, a workhorse back who has proved to be as dangerous on his 30th carry as he is on his first. Oglesby is projected as one of the top players in the state for the 2014 recruiting cycle, and as a four-star prospect.
"They just do a great job up at Daniel," said Swinney. "Coach Rob and his staff prepare them very well."