Tigers, Gamecocks follow similar recruiting maps to top 10

Dabo Swinney on in-state battles: 'They're rarely 50-50...If guys are really wanting to stay in-state, they've got a preference'

Football - Dabo Swinney

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Dabo Swinney

This week's Clemson-Carolina game, the first battle between top-10 teams in the 110-game history of the rivalry, is nationally relevant in large part because both Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier have filled their rosters with an elite level of talent.

Combining a strong in-state recruiting emphasis with forays into Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, with regular pick-ups outside the home base, the two programs have followed similar paths to the top 10.

Though the numbers vary from year-to-year - for example Clemson signed no players from Georgia in 2012, while the Gamecocks nabbed a dozen - the two programs mine the same general territory, year after year.

Occasionally they go head-to-head, down to the wire, for a truly undecided, 50-50 prospect. But it doesn't happen as often as you might think - especially with in-state players.

The Tigers made a strong push for both Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney, knowing all the while that both were probably headed to Columbia.

South Carolina made recent runs at wide receivers Charone Peake and Mike Williams, despite Clemson's wire-to-wire advantage with both players.

For 2014, Clemson remained involved with offensive lineman Donell Stanley of Latta and linebacker Kevin Crosby of Bamberg until they surprised no one by picking the Gamecocks.

Most of the time, Swinney says he has a pretty good idea early in the process where an in-state prospect's heart lies.

"They're rarely 50-50," Swinney said. "It's usually this one or that one. It was that way when I was at Alabama for all those years. Every now and then a guy might switch over, but not often.

"Most of the time if guys are really wanting to stay in-state, they've got a preference. They may not come right out and tell you, but they have a preference."

Over the past five recruiting cycles, Clemson has taken a larger percentage of its recruits from in-state than has South Carolina.

Forty five of the 107 players who signed with Clemson during that period come from in-state - 42 percent.

Of the 129 players signed by USC during the same period, 36 come from in-state - 28 percent.

Clemson has signed a higher percentage of South Carolinians in each of the five cycles, including 50 percent or better in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The Gamecocks' highest percentage of in-state signees came in 2009 (37 percent) and its low came last year (14 percent), when just three of 21 signees were from in-state.

Clemson and USC often go head-to-head out of state, as well, especially in Georgia, where Spurrier has established a strong and consistent recruiting base.

Since 2009, USC has signed 45 players out of Georgia, while Clemson has taken 16. During the same period, both schools have signed 16 players from North Carolina.

Swinney says that sharing the same recruiting base makes the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry all the more intense. And the relationships that coaches develop with players that they ultimately don't sign add a bit of spice to the stew.

"It's not just South Carolina - it's the case with several teams that we play and recruit against," Swinney said. "We go after a lot of the same guys, and you do develop relationships with those guys.

"I really don't ever fret over the guys we don't get. I wish them well. Guys make their decisions for whatever reasons. I'm just excited about the ones we get.

"But that common knowledge is one of the things that makes a rivalry game great. We're in the same state, a lot of them went to school with each other and played against each other in high school, so there's more familiarity. That's what makes it fun."

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tigerrob44 writes:

Most instate players know when they are 10 years old where they are going to college. There's not much recruiting going on. It's the out of state guys that you have to fight for. And Clemson, according to ESPN at least are winning the recruiting battle big time over the last 5 years. It isn't even close if measuring your class by how many stars they have. We are far, far ahead of them. Check the record. Right now we are the 13th best class for 2014 and they are 30th. No contest.

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