If this is what a recruiting slump looks like, then Dabo Swinney will take another, and another...
Swinney has said repeatedly that he's excited about what he considers to be another special class of Tigers.
But most of the 'experts' seem to agree that Clemson's still unfinished 2013 class isn't quite up to the standards of the past several seasons.
Neither Rivals (26th) nor Scout (27th) currently has Clemson ranked among its top 25 nationally, while 247Sports rates Clemson's collection of 16 commitments or early enrollees 24th in the nation.
ESPN gives Clemson's class higher marks, rating the Tigers 12th in the nation.
Why the discrepancy?
ESPN, almost across the board, ranks Clemson's individual commitments higher than do the other recruiting website networks.
A case in point is middle linebacker Ben Boulware of T.L. Hanna High in Anderson. A year ago, Boulware was getting little mention as an elite-level prospect; but after an outstanding senior season and recruiting offers from the likes of Georgia and Clemson, Boulware's stock rose. He then added a pair of MVP-caliber performances in postseason all-star games.
When the network updated its 2013 rankings earlier this month, Boulware was rated No. 78 in the nation and as the No. 1 player in South Carolina.
The other recruiting website networks remained more static in their evaluation. Rivals ranks Boulware 206th nationally, he comes in at No. 289 on the Scout list, and he's not included on 247Sports' Top 247 list.
Running back Tyshon Dye (No. 123 nationally), defensive Ebenezer Ogundeko (No. 126), wide receiver Kyrin Priester (No. 172), wide receiver Mike Williams (No. 205), and defensive tackle Scott Pagano (No. 262) are rated higher by ESPN than on any other list. At No. 112, linebacker Dorian O'Daniel's ESPN rating is the second highest of the four, just behind Rivals' No. 106 ranking.
The only exceptions to the trend are running back Wayne Gallman, who's not in ESPN's Top 300 but is ranked No. 224 by 247Sports, and safety Jayron Kearse, who also failed to make the ESPN Top 300 list, but is ranked No. 100 nationally by Scout.
Rankings of the handful elite prospects still being pursued by Clemson vary widely. Defensive end Carl Lawson is ranked as high as No. 2 overall (by ESPN) and as low as No. 77 (by Scout). Cornerback Mackensie Alexander is ranked fourth overall by ESPN and No. 71 by Scout. Scout, meanwhile, ranks quarterback Asiantii Woulward No. 89 overall, while ESPN ranks him No. 143.
Three of the four networks rate defensive tackle Montravius Adams among the top 13 nationally, while one has him ranked 25th. Offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder's rankings range from No. 89 (by 247Sports) to No. 184 (by Rivals).
The general opinion of college coaches is that the recruiting rankings should be labeled 'For Entertainment Purposes Only.'
For fans worried about a slump, a grain of salt might be in order.