Clemson 'working on' on more JUCO-friendly relationship

Clemson Athletic Director dan Radakovich hugs offensive coordinator Chad Morris following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Athletic Director dan Radakovich hugs offensive coordinator Chad Morris following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium

Clemson last signed a junior college prospect in 2008.

Out of the North Dakota State College of Science, defensive end Jarrett Crittenton was poised to join the Tigers, but his grades in Wahpeton, N.D., kept him from ever donning the orange and white. He finished out his two-year career at Middle Tennessee State with 40 tackles (11.5 for loss) and four sacks.

Around Clemson, quite a few schools have signed that instant-impact JUCO - most prominently Auburn grabbing two QBs who have led them to the national title game since 2010.

In recruiting cycles 2012-14, SEC and ACC schools have signed or have committed over half of the top-20 JUCO prospects. Regular foes South Carolina and FSU each have one on board for 2014.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich says the route has its challenges, but evening the playing field is on more than one Tiger coach's mind.

"It's something that we have to work on and that we are working on specifically during this semester," Radakovich said in an interview with WCCP 104.9 locally. "When you come into a circumstance, you get various wish lists from various coaches. We need to do this and we need to do that.

"It was uniform through a number of our head-count sports that while we're not going to make a living utilizing junior college players - it's always nice to have that ability."

The balance is between plucking these top talents and meeting NCAA standards, which other institutions have managed to do.

"To be real honest we're focused solely on what happens at Clemson," Radakovich said. "It is an important piece and a great tool to have in your toolbox to be able to go out occasionally and find that one young man to come in and help fill a need.

"Can it be done? Yes. We just have to make sure it's the right situation."

As Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney has identified before, matching classes from these junior college institutions and their carrying over to Clemson has been a primary issue.

"That's normally been the roadblock," said Radakovich. "Somebody coming in from a junior college, the credits that come in with them don't match up to degree programs at Clemson to allow them to be eligible towards the progress towards degree requirements of the NCAA. We need to do some internal working that we can create opportunities for that roadblock to disappear."

The now second-year Tigers AD is confident there's the working relationship between athletics and academics for the road ahead.

"It starts at the top and when I say the top, it's President (James) Clements and coach Swinney," Radakovich said. "It's Steve Duzan, who runs Vickery Hall, and myself. We're all saying that you don't have to have that adversarial relationship. You can work this together so that you can get tremendous student-athletes, who want to come here and get a degree.

"Coach Swinney has done a tremendous job of graduating players that have stayed the four (or five) years under his leadership. That's very important."

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Comments » 3

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

You have enough problems with kids that are smart enough to get accepted from high school. Why would you want to waste time with someone that is basically brain dead when there are plenty more out there just as good and their brains work a little bit?

TigerNE writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

You have enough problems with kids that are smart enough to get accepted from high school. Why would you want to waste time with someone that is basically brain dead when there are plenty more out there just as good and their brains work a little bit?

Because when you choose wisely you can get the best of both worlds. Somebody who has further developed their athletic skills playing JUCO and perhaps matured academically.

It doesn't strike me as being much different than choosing a kid right out of high school who ends up going to Hargrave for example.

meb4077 writes:

Saying they're brain dead is ignorant. JuCo students that do well have a good track record of succeeding. One of the categories Dabo specifically mentioned were otherwise smart students at some of the lousy schools in the low country. They are perfect candidates to get caught up at a JuCo, then transfer.

That said, I despise AuStunk for putting up a statue for a transfer that spent two semesters there (wasn't Scam a spring enrollee?). It should be limited to those looking for a degree.

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