Friday, February 5, 2010

Clemson Recruiting Review: A Look Back At The Tigers 2007 Class With Shakin The Southland Blog

This is the first of series of recruiting reviews I will be posting with Q&A from some of the top bloggers in the ACC and SEC.

First up is Clemson where we take a look back at 2007 class and how it really panned out with one of the top Clemson blogs, Shakin The Southland.

1. Looking back at the rankings for 2007 (Scout 23rd - 4th ACC, Rivals 16th - 1st in ACC) four years later, who has been the biggest surprise of this class?
"The over performer would be Andre Branch, a 2-star OLB who moved to DE and played on par with Sapp and Bowers this past year. Another would be Chad Diehl, a 3-star LB who has become our best blocking FB since the mid 90s. MLB Brandon Maye was a lightly recruited guy from Mobile AL that we pulled in late, and was a freshman All-American, though he took a step back last season."
2. Who has been the biggest disappointment?

"4-star WR Markish Jones signed with Clemson out of Broome HS, and never enrolled. He went to Cal anddidnt make it in either, and now plays at a small college.

4-star CB Marcus Gilchrist started at FS this year, but I really think he's underperformed to his potential, as has 4-star DE Kourtnei Brown, who took a Redshirt in 2009 to work on some things. I also thought 4-star LB Scotty Cooper would blossom, but he's buried on the depth chart and hasnt been the same player following 2 knee surgeries.

But really, the disappointment was Will Korn. He was heralded as a Top 5 national QB, and after 2 shoulder surgeries, has amounted to nothing. Now that Parker has beaten him for the starting job, he'll transfer elsewhere, maybe Marshall."

3. Is there a late bloomer in this class with a chance to finally live up to the hype this year?

"4-star RT Landon Walker put it together down the stretch in 2009, and if he becomes more tenacious in run blocking and committed in the off season, he could be very good. Gilchrist will move back to CB we believe, so he has a chance at his natural position to finally impress after all the hype that went into his recruitment.

Branch I believe has the best NFL-potential if he works on some technique things, and LG Mason Cloy has the ability to be All-ACC if he recovers from his broken leg."
4. We all know how important the line of scrimmage is. Looking back at the offensive and defensive lines for the class, how have these groups panned out?

"This class was heavy in the trenches for us. Jarvis Jenkins will be an NFL draft pick at DT. Branch could be if he works on things, he's mean enough. The rest have been solid contributors along the DL.

Offensively, Mason Cloy will start this year at LG, Wilson Norris redshirted his first year and is stuck behind Antoine McClain at RG but plays a few snaps. David Smith and Landon Walker will share duties at RT with Walker getting the start.

Overall we hit on them as contributors, but none of these guys are real maulers up front. Walker can pass block but not run block as well. Mason Cloy can be good
but he's not an elite talent. These guys are all going to be RS Juniors because we RS nearly all linemen, so this will be their big year to differentiate."

5. Who is the big recruit that got away?
"Probably Ron Gronkowski, TE who went to AZ, declared for the NFL draft early a few weeks ago. Brandon Hicks (FL) and Larry Asante (Neb) both took
visits to Clemson and went elsewhere. We offered Carlos Dunlap (FL) but were never really in it for him.

Clemson offered and led for 4/5-star WR Dwight Jones.

However, the AARC (academic board) refused to let us take him because they felt he wouldn't cut it academically.
And yet he went to UNC. WTF.

6. What do you think the biggest attractions are to playing at Clemson?
"Nearly all recruits say its the game day and local atmosphere. Clemson is one big family, and while I thought Bowden spent more time praying than scheming or working on football, he did sell it to recruit as a religious, family-oriented place.

Plus, it was at this time that our West End zone was being constructed, so we had great facilities improvements to sell players."
7. What are some recruiting disadvantages for the Tigers ?
"I think that the money influx at Clemson hurts us somewhat, though we do a lot with average money when it comes to recruiting, it just hasn't shown on the field (consistently Top 20 by Rivals).

We're a smaller school with a smaller alumni base, and it shows in the cash department.
Also Clemson is a small town with little to do, and we have to compete in-state
every year for our share of a small level of D1 talent (though per capita S.C. ranks well).

But if Clemson was winning ACC championships, I think we'd be top 10-15 perennially in the recruiting rankings."

8. How important is recruiting in state for Clemson?
"We have to win our share, but we're not going to sweep in-state often. USC has a large alumni base and great TV exposure and so

they generate quite a bit of revenue. Still, we own them on the field if you look at the history and that does help.

What I believe is that you are born into being either a Clemson or USC fan in this state, and who we fight over every year are those few kids who
have no allegiance to either school.

What we must do is shut off the state to outside schools."

9. Where are the Tigers "second homes" for recruiting out of state?
"We generally get a few players from Jacksonville FL because of Swinney's ties to the area, as well as a few from south Alabama when we basically signed zero in the 90s.

This year we've pushed hard into Atlanta and have signed the most players from Georgia this year that we ever have in my memory."
Shakin The Southland went on to add..."I think if Clemson can compete for its share of ACC titles, and we should be in the Top 3 ACC teams every year if you look at these recruiting rankings over the last 5-6 years, then we'll only continue to make inroads in Georgia and Florida and start pulling in more of the elite level talent that teams like Georgia, Florida State, Florida, and Alabama get.

But the biggest question is just that: Can we develop them and win more than 7-8 games a year every year?"

My Thoughts on Clemson Recruiting...This Tiger recruiting class was brought in by Tommy Bowden, but will end up coached by Dabo Swinney. Rivals ranked it 16th nationally and the best in the ACC. Scout had the Tigers at 23rd nationally and fourth in the league. I would have to say Scout got it more right in this case.

The non development of Willy Korn was a big disappointment as he was thought to be the guy who would take Tommy Bowden's offense to the next level.

Clemson has a small, but very talented pool to recruit from in state. Per capita, the state of South Carolina is one of the best at recruiting talent. But the Tigers do have to compete with South Carolina and teams like Florida, FSU, Georgia, and Tennessee love to come in and pluck some of the top talent.

The Tigers got four of the top 10 and nine of the top 20 in the state according to Rivals in 2007. If Clemson wants to get to that next level in recruiting they have to do a better job of keeping the top tier talent in state. I think they also have to make some in roads back into North Carolina where they had great success in the 80s and 90s. I agree with Shakin The Southland that recruiting Georgia is a must as well.

But it comes down to what Dabo Swinney and his staff do once they have these players on campus. Bowden could never get these guys to live up to their hype.

Thanks again to Shakin The Southland for their responses.

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