Dabo Swinney says recruiting numbers 'really tight' for Tigers' 2014 class

'We had 10 scholarship seniors, and we were kind of counting on four or five spots of attrition to help us out'

Friday, D.W. Daniel's J.D. Davis (left) and Judah Davis (right) committed to Clemson after attending Dabo Swinney's football camp. Pictured, they combine to tackle Blue Ridge's Ty Montgomery in the first quarter of their game at Daniel last year.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Friday, D.W. Daniel's J.D. Davis (left) and Judah Davis (right) committed to Clemson after attending Dabo Swinney's football camp. Pictured, they combine to tackle Blue Ridge's Ty Montgomery in the first quarter of their game at Daniel last year.

Despite decisions by Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland to declare for the NFL draft, and the pending decision of Vic Beasley, numbers remain “really tight” for Clemson's 2014 recruiting class.

Dabo Swinney said the coaching staff figured in attrition in arriving at its target numbers for 2014.

The Tigers currently have 20 players committed, including three that accepted 'greyshirt' offers – in-state linebackers Jalen Williams of Blythewood and twins J.D. and Judah Davis of Daniel. The group also includes five early enrollees – quarterback Deshaun Watson, linebacker Chris Register and wide receivers Artavis Scott, Demarre Kitt and Kyrin Priester.

“We were kind of counting on attrition,” Swinney said. “We had 10 scholarship seniors, and we were kind of counting on four or five spots of attrition to help us out.

“We’ve got some greyshirt guys, so we've got the ability to manage this class with guys we really like, guys we think fit in our program that might not have a chance to come in August depending on what happens but will certainly be here by next January.”

Also contributing to the numbers crunch is Swinney's desire to keep original walk-ons like longsnapper Michael Sobeski and running back C.J. Davidson on scholarship.

“You get into situations where you’ve got a young man like Sobeski,” Swinney said. “Yes, I could take his scholarship away, but I’d really like to keep him on scholarship because he’s earned it. Certainly within our rules when a walk-on earns a scholarship, it’s not necessarily for the rest of his career - it’s something you evaluate every year.

“But we're talking about a guy who’s been a starter for us and a great producer. Another guy is C.J. Davidson, a young man we think is going to be a great player for these next two years. You’d like to keep a guy like that on scholarship. So you get into those types of situations.”

The Tigers will host their remaining committed players for official visits between now and signing day. The upcoming weekends will also serve as 'Junior Days' – a time for 2015 and 2016 prospects to visit campus for an off-season taste of the program.

Clemson is actively recruiting just a handful of uncommitted prospects for 2014.

Swinney said the Tigers' final recruiting number is always a moving target.

“We’re okay right now, and we’ll see where it goes as we move forward,” said Swinney. “Sometimes a guy will come to you and say, 'coach, I want to graduate or I want to transfer somewhere I can get playing time.' Those are things we don’t ever know. Just like last year, I had no idea (quarterback) Morgan Roberts was going to transfer out.

“Numbers-wise we’re in good shape. And we’re almost finished with this class. There’s two or three guys out there we’re working hard on. We’ll see what happens.”

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Comments » 19

33dtb writes:

O-Linemen ?????

Xander5000 writes:

in response to 33dtb:

O-Linemen ?????

2015's class should be and highly need to be heavy on recruiting in that area. I believe they are tapped out a bit for the 2014 class scholarship-wise.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

If you give a kid a scholarship that walks on to the field and is good enough at some point to give him a scholarship then you should have to keep the schools commitment to him. This is not doing business like the NFL. It's college and they are young kids that come to Clemson to get a degree and then decide they want to play football. Don't take away their scholarship no matter what. Remember they are students first and athletes second. As long as they can read at a 5th grade level they make fine students. Just ask UNC Chapel Hill!!!!!!

TigerNE writes:

in response to 33dtb:

O-Linemen ?????

Mitch Hyatt is leading our 2015 class. Landing him will impress a number of others to follow along I'll guess. Maybe it helps flip Chuma Edoga? Or Mason Veal? Or finally lock Zack Bailey?

TigerFan95 writes:

It's great that we're planning to sign a big O-line class in 2015, but the problem is we lose something like 11 of our 17 O-lineman over the next two years. Given that it takes 2, sometimes 3 years to develop a lineman we should be recruiting heavy at Oline this cycle to replace those guys in 2016. By recruiting only two this cycle we may go into the 2016 season with only 6 or 7 linemen on our roster that have ever played a college snap.

TigerNE writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

It's great that we're planning to sign a big O-line class in 2015, but the problem is we lose something like 11 of our 17 O-lineman over the next two years. Given that it takes 2, sometimes 3 years to develop a lineman we should be recruiting heavy at Oline this cycle to replace those guys in 2016. By recruiting only two this cycle we may go into the 2016 season with only 6 or 7 linemen on our roster that have ever played a college snap.

Agree it looks potentially thin at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't plans to move people around, either. But it's not like we are stacked with large DTs or something to move around either. It's made worse by Spencer Region being a bust so far, too. Maybe they end up pulling one or two squad players who show potential if ever needed?

But also, 3 years seems like a long time to develop a good lineman. And it's a primary reason fluff games are put on the schedule. To give the team a chance to rotate key positions. We just may need a "heavy" rotation at some point.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

Agree it looks potentially thin at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't plans to move people around, either. But it's not like we are stacked with large DTs or something to move around either. It's made worse by Spencer Region being a bust so far, too. Maybe they end up pulling one or two squad players who show potential if ever needed?

But also, 3 years seems like a long time to develop a good lineman. And it's a primary reason fluff games are put on the schedule. To give the team a chance to rotate key positions. We just may need a "heavy" rotation at some point.

I think three years is the ideal scenario for developing a solid starter at O-line. Redshirt him his first year to get his weight and conditioning up, play him third string as a redshirt freshman, second string as a redshirt sophomore and start him his redshirt junior & senior years.

TigerNE writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

I think three years is the ideal scenario for developing a solid starter at O-line. Redshirt him his first year to get his weight and conditioning up, play him third string as a redshirt freshman, second string as a redshirt sophomore and start him his redshirt junior & senior years.

I won't argue what is "ideal", and probably agree for the most part. But it's not so rare that even the best teams put second year guys on the line. I noticed in our FSU massacre there was at least one OL that was a sophomore. And I'm pretty sure I read there was another RS freshman in the game against Florida. Don't recall the names.

kaplony writes:

We have 14 OL on roster for next season right now with two, probably three with Cannon Smith, coming in with this recruiting class.

Which position would you like for us to be thin at while we stockpile OL enough so that we are only playing RSJrs and RSSrs every year? The days of stockpiling OL enough to have not only a three deep but a redshirt class went away when we dropped to 85 scholarships back in 1993.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to kaplony:

We have 14 OL on roster for next season right now with two, probably three with Cannon Smith, coming in with this recruiting class.

Which position would you like for us to be thin at while we stockpile OL enough so that we are only playing RSJrs and RSSrs every year? The days of stockpiling OL enough to have not only a three deep but a redshirt class went away when we dropped to 85 scholarships back in 1993.

If you consistently recruit 4 O-lineman every year you will never stockpile players. Each year you’ll lose 4 and you’ll add 4. Over a 5 year period you’ll sign 20 linemen. Factor in that you’re bound to have a couple misses or career ending injuries, you should consistently maintain about 17-18 players on your roster which is the ideal number to have according to what Dabo has said in the past. Fact is anytime you sign less than 4 linemen you’re going to find yourself short at some point and anytime you sign more than 4 you’re going to have a bubble. When you consider that we’re likely to sign only 2 linemen for the second year in a row, it’s extremely concerning. Although Cannon Smith may convert over to O-line at some point, it still puts us behind. I view recruiting as an assembly line that you have to feed with the right amount of raw product to get consistent production. Too much or not enough creates problems.

kaplony writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

If you consistently recruit 4 O-lineman every year you will never stockpile players. Each year you’ll lose 4 and you’ll add 4. Over a 5 year period you’ll sign 20 linemen. Factor in that you’re bound to have a couple misses or career ending injuries, you should consistently maintain about 17-18 players on your roster which is the ideal number to have according to what Dabo has said in the past. Fact is anytime you sign less than 4 linemen you’re going to find yourself short at some point and anytime you sign more than 4 you’re going to have a bubble. When you consider that we’re likely to sign only 2 linemen for the second year in a row, it’s extremely concerning. Although Cannon Smith may convert over to O-line at some point, it still puts us behind. I view recruiting as an assembly line that you have to feed with the right amount of raw product to get consistent production. Too much or not enough creates problems.

20 scholarship OL on roster equals 1/4 of the entire roster.

Again, I will ask the question you avoided...Which position are you willing to be thin at forever to enable us to carry 20 OL?

TigerNE writes:

in response to kaplony:

20 scholarship OL on roster equals 1/4 of the entire roster.

Again, I will ask the question you avoided...Which position are you willing to be thin at forever to enable us to carry 20 OL?

Curious where you get the count of 20 on scholarship. I took a quick look at 2013 and 2014 and find fewer in both seasons. Are you including more than the usual positions or some squad guys? For this season I get the same number as TigerFan95 - 17.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to kaplony:

20 scholarship OL on roster equals 1/4 of the entire roster.

Again, I will ask the question you avoided...Which position are you willing to be thin at forever to enable us to carry 20 OL?

Looking at our projected '14 roster it looks like we're going to be oversigned at RB with 8 scholarship players. Given that we only lose 1 RB in DJ Howard next season I would have prefered that we sign only 2 RBs this cycle instead of the 4 we have committed so far. And I think you're missing my point about the number of Olineman I think we should carry. The goal should be to carry 17-18 (Dabo has even said that is his ideal number). Yes, by signing 4 each year you will sign 20 guys over a 5 year period, but you're bound to lose 2-3 of them over those 5 years due to injury, grades, leaving early, etc.

kaplony writes:

in response to TigerNE:

Curious where you get the count of 20 on scholarship. I took a quick look at 2013 and 2014 and find fewer in both seasons. Are you including more than the usual positions or some squad guys? For this season I get the same number as TigerFan95 - 17.

I was using another poster's stance that we should sign 4 OL a year every year regardless. If we do that counting a redshirt year that would mean 20 OL on roster every year.

kaplony writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Looking at our projected '14 roster it looks like we're going to be oversigned at RB with 8 scholarship players. Given that we only lose 1 RB in DJ Howard next season I would have prefered that we sign only 2 RBs this cycle instead of the 4 we have committed so far. And I think you're missing my point about the number of Olineman I think we should carry. The goal should be to carry 17-18 (Dabo has even said that is his ideal number). Yes, by signing 4 each year you will sign 20 guys over a 5 year period, but you're bound to lose 2-3 of them over those 5 years due to injury, grades, leaving early, etc.

The thing about oversigning RB is there is always the option of changing positions with them. If we have too many RB and too few at another skill position like WR, DB, or LB you always have an option to spread the wealth and balance the roster. If you have too many OL you only have too many OL. While you often see DL switch to OL you rarely see an OL switch to DL except in extreme situations where you simply have to have a body in the position.

Also the RB numbers are slightly skewed by CJ Davidson. When he came over from the track team we had no choice but to put him on scholarship. But even with 6 RB on scholarship we still had depth problems late in the year. Dye was out for the season and by the end of the year every RB had missed time because of injury except Hot Rod.

Xander5000 writes:

I like having the depth at running back because as we all know injuries do happen. But if we have minor to minumum injuries then spreading the wealth is good. Having said that, there is also the chance to find a VERY productive kick-off returner and punt returner out of these 6 or 8 running backs. If skill positions is going to be our strength maybe we shouldn't hold back so much. But O-lineman are needed to block for them all.

TigerFan95 writes:

To me it’s more critical to keep additional lineman over skill players due to the difficulty in scouting them and their development time…Skill players like WR’s and RB’s are much easier to evaluate and project and they can often contribute right out of HS. If you miss or have a shortage you can make up for it in one recruiting cycle. With linemen they’re much more difficult to project and evaluate and they develop slower. If you miss or lose one early it may take two or more cycles to replace them.

TigerNE writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

To me it’s more critical to keep additional lineman over skill players due to the difficulty in scouting them and their development time…Skill players like WR’s and RB’s are much easier to evaluate and project and they can often contribute right out of HS. If you miss or have a shortage you can make up for it in one recruiting cycle. With linemen they’re much more difficult to project and evaluate and they develop slower. If you miss or lose one early it may take two or more cycles to replace them.

I'm not sure it's so black and white, but I agree about the difference in development for positions in general. But when the HC has spent his playing and assistant coaching career on offensive skill positions, I expect we will always have a bias for them. Even to a fault. We might be on the edge of excess for WR, for example, especially if you look at the offers out for 2015. It will all depend on how many are seriously pursued and signed, of course.

kaplony writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

To me it’s more critical to keep additional lineman over skill players due to the difficulty in scouting them and their development time…Skill players like WR’s and RB’s are much easier to evaluate and project and they can often contribute right out of HS. If you miss or have a shortage you can make up for it in one recruiting cycle. With linemen they’re much more difficult to project and evaluate and they develop slower. If you miss or lose one early it may take two or more cycles to replace them.

As for WR, you also need to realize we were one injury away from Daniel Rodriguez and Wes Forbush seeing significant playing time this past season as well.

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