CLEMSON - Before Signing Day really got rolling Wednesday, Clemson early-enrollee freshman Demarre Kitt was already up – preparing for a biology exam.
The four-star wide receiver prospect out of Sandy Creek (Ga.) had already signed his letter of intent and been on campus for over a month. He was already participating in the early – early – a.m. workouts the Tiger coaching staff puts the team through this time of year.
Mid-years 'about their business'
It’s not the easiest way to enter college life, but he's one of five early entrants trying to make an instant impact this fall.
Joining Kitt on campus are two more highly-rated receivers, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott, the top-rated quarterback in Deshaun Watson and four-star linebacker Chris Register.
"I don't have any doubt when all is said and done this will be one of the best groups that we've signed," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, "if not the best group. I think they're all dialed-in and focused. These mid-year guys that are here - they don't look like freshmen. They don't act like freshmen. They don't walk around here like freshmen."
Kitt asked Twitter to wish him luck on that biology test, but Swinney has received a good report so far from the new Tigers.
"Those guys are about their business," Swinney said. "I was talking to our academic guy on our mid-years and how they are handling themselves - they are doing a heck of a job. We have three wideouts. We obviously needed an influx of talent there because we lost a couple good ones. Chris Register looks like a full grown man walking around here."
The fairly big early-enrollee class helps with the college transition, with "All-In Drills" starting next week and spring practice in early March.
"It's a special little group," said Swinney. "They do everything together. They hang out together. They've got a good support system to get them ready. They're excited. They've been out working out and doing things on their own and eager to get going and start the process."
In a class lacking the Signing Day drama, they are five in a 20-plus-man class where all but two committed before the fall. A far cry from what Swinney described as a "very frustrating" 2013 cycle, which saw five decommitments including the No. 1 player in the country (Robert Nkemdiche to Ole Miss).
The shared understanding of the word "commitment" was the key. Clemson has a policy that frowns upon any official visits to other schools after pledging to the Tigers.
"I just try to be upfront with everybody and make sure we're all on the same page," Swinney said, going into his sixth full season at Clemson. "That everybody understands the decision that's being made. I've talked several guys out of committing because once I define it they're like, 'Eh, I don't think that's what I meant by that.' Well, that's great. Let's just keep recruiting."
The delineation between recruitment and commitment is crucial to the process.
"Nobody has to get mad," Swinney said. "Nobody has to decommit. Nobody has to go through all that stuff. We try to eliminate that all upfront. I think that's what happens sometimes. Guys are excited somebody wants to commit, but there's no real discussion about what that means.
"That's just how we handle it."