February 7, 2013

National Signing Day 2013 - Clemson recap

National Signing Day is the equivalent of Christmas in February for college football fans all across the country, and for Clemson coaches and fans, Christmas came a little early and filled with many surprises.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney signed a class of 23- -all of which will take the Tigers one step closer to being the program they strive to be.
“We got better today, that’s for sure,” Swinney said. “I really feel like today was another step toward being the consistent program that we want to be. It’s all about personnel. We’ve got a really quality group of young men here that have chosen to come be a part of what we hope is going to be a special career for them.”
The class was ranked 13th by ESPN and was highlighted by 5-star defensive back Mackensie Alexander and 4-star offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder, and Swinney said that the young men that chose to come to Clemson could have played anywhere in the country.
“We’ve got a top 15 class in the country coming to join an already very, very talented football team, a group of guys that could have gone to Southern Cal to Florida and everywhere in between,” Swinney said. “These kids had offers, but they chose Clemson, South Carolina.”
Let’s take at look at some of the superlatives from National Signing Day…
Wiggins, a 3-star defensive back out of Durham (NC) Hillside, was a long-time UNC commit right up until signing, when he announced that he was signing with Clemson. Wiggins took an official visit Clemson in late January, but played his recruitment very close to the vest during the entire process, making his announcement the biggest surprise of 2013. As a senior Wiggins accounted for 90 tackles and seven interceptions. He tallied 80 tackles, 12 pass break ups, and six interceptions during his junior season.
“A huge, huge get for us today. Korrin is, I think, has a great combination, as far as he can play safety,” Swinney said of Wiggins. “He can play nickel. Heck, he could probably play corner. We really like him at the safety position. But another one of those guys that I think is physically developed, kind of ahead of himself for a high school senior. A very mature young man that comes from a great family up in North Carolina. One of those guys that I think has a chance to, hopefully, help us early.”
The Tigers battled Auburn and Miss. St. for the Alexander’s services, but in the end he made a decision to come to Clemson based on where he felt the most comfortable and where he could have the biggest impact. It’s no secret that the Clemson secondary struggled in 2012, giving up 240.3 yards per game. The 5-star from Immokalee (FL) has all of the physical tools to come in and play at cornerback right away ,especially since the Tigers lost starting corner Xavier Brewer and the position was plagued with injuries last season. The U.S. Army All American had 51 tackles, four interceptions, two caused fumbles, and one recovered fumble.
“He’s a guy that is a rare combination at that position,” Swinney said of Alexander. “With his size and speed and ball skills, ability to finish plays, tackle and all of that. He’s going to bring a work ethic in here that I think is rare amongst young people. This is a guy that knows how to work. He is completely driven and focused on being the best that he can be. That’s the kind of thing that can rub off on a team.”
After the early departure of Clemson’s leading receiver Nuk Hopkins, receiver Mike Williams from Santee (SC) Lake Marion will have the opportunity to step in and play in offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ high octane offense right away. Williams was rated the No. 2 player in the state of South Carolina and he believes that he can have the same type of impact Hopkins had as a freshman, filling a critical need for the Tigers at the receiver position. As a senior, Williams caught 60 passes for 1,395 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Mike Williams is easily the best guy in this state, a guy that we’re very familiar with,” Swinney said of Williams. “That was a big recruiting get for us right there. We think that he brings great size, character, work ethic, intangibles, tremendous ball skills -- he’s kind of got a little bit of everything…he’ll play big, just like he is.”
The recruitment of defensive back Ryan Carter was very tumultuous at times because he hails from Loganville (GA) Grayson, the same school as No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche. The Clemson coaching staff waited until signing day to officially offer Carter in order to avoid the speculation that he was only being offered because of Nkemdiche. However, after seeing Carter play in person last season, the Tigers definitely stole a very talented player out of the state of Georgia. Carter is very quick and could help the Tigers in the return game, especially since Clemson struggled mightily in that phase last season. At defensive back, Carter is always around the ball and making plays. He’s also not afraid of contact and isn’t scared to make the big hit. Carter played on offense and defense for Grayson, tallying 70 tackles and two interceptions while hauling in 49 passes for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Ryan Carter is a guy -- I hate to label him -- I’d say he’ll be the Adam Humphries of this class.,” Swinney said of Carter. “I really feel like this guy… when we look back on this signing class four years from now everybody is going to say, ‘Golly.’ We wanted to, purposely, hold him. He was signed this morning, we, personally, wanted to hold him. Unfortunately, there were some things written in the recruiting process early that were not fair to this young man, not fair at all. This is a heck of a football player. We’re fortunate to have him. I wanted to make sure that he was completely separate so that people wouldn’t write with their own agendas. This is a young man that’s earned his scholarship on his own merit.”
National recruiting analyst Tom Lunginbill tabbed Boulware as the identity of what Clemson’s defense strives to be- tough. The 4-star linebacker out of Anderson (SC) T.L. Hanna is the epitome of toughness and physicality. After seeing Boulware play numerous times as a Yellow Jacket, I liken him to the Carolina Panthers’ rookie Luke Kuechly- he simply finds the ball and makes a play. During the Under Armour All-American Game, those that lined up opposite of Boulware knew they needed to buckle their chinstraps before going against Boulware because of his physical play. As a four-year starter, Boulware tallied 592 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles and 10 pass breakups.
“Ben Boulware is as good a prospect you’re going to sign in any recruiting class,” Swinney said of Boulware. “This kid is big-time special.”
Clemson’s 2013 Recruiting Class

This post was written by Clemson Girl's Sports Bloggess, Nikki Steele.

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