Swinney says recruiting success starts with position coaches' passion

'If you're a good football coach, you know your position and what it takes. I want a position coach to stand on the table for his guy'

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and new Assistant Coach Marion Hobby laugh together at the beginning of the Tigers' first spring practice Friday.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and new Assistant Coach Marion Hobby laugh together at the beginning of the Tigers' first spring practice Friday.

So many players. So many choices. With key decisions coming earlier every day.

The recruiting game has changed, and is changing still.

So how do Dabo Swinney and Jeff Scott decide who to pursue, with a future run down The Hill in mind?

Prospect evaluation is a multifaceted enterprise, but to Swinney's thinking, nothing is more important than the opinion of a player's future position coach.

"I think if you're a good football coach, you know your position and you know what it takes," Swinney said. "I want a position coach to stand on the table for his guy, because he's the one who's going to be accountable, ultimately, for who he brings in here. I want him to really own his position and be confident about it.

"And then we have checks and balances in place."

Swinney says he balances the evaulations made by his assistant coaches with big-picture intangibles, which is something he learned from his college coach, Gene Stallings.

"Coach Stallings was much more interested in the intangibles - their toughness and their love and desire to play and work. All those things. Because there are a lot of good players.

"We have a list of those kinds of questions that I want answered as we go through the process and try to make a decision. It's not an exact science. We all make mistakes."

There are inevitably surprises, on both sides of the ledger.

"There have been guys who I've said 'there's just no way this guy's not going to be a great player.' And then, you just don't know what happens," said Swinney. "All of sudden, he doesn't want to go to class or do this or that. And I've seen guys who I've said 'there's no way - he don't care.' And then all of a sudden something clicks and they commit, and you look up two years later and he's a great player.

"There's just a lot goes into it. And it's all based on a projection. But it starts in knowing what you're looking for and believing in what you're looking for."

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