Clemson Football Recruiting: Power Ranking the Last 5 Recruiting Seasons
Recruiting is the bread and butter of building any success on the college football level. From the prized, 5-star recruits to the hidden potential of 3-star recruits, any college coach is looking to get the right recruits they believe can help put their team over the hump.
And through the last five years, Clemson has had its ups and downs with recruits. Some never quite pan out, while others are never able to really develop due to the coaching staffs at the time. But, with three years under Dabo Swinney, the development of Clemson's recruits and the talent pool of these recruits has been increasing year, and it's starting to show on the field.
Coach Swinney and his staff have collected four recruiting classes, and we will look back upon the last five recruiting classes Clemson has signed to see how Dabo's first four years stack up.
5. 2009 Class
In the wake of the resignation/firing of former head coach Tommy Bowden, the majority of these recruits were lost as a result. Since, for the most part, this was a lost class, Dabo Swinney pulled most of the scholarships for this class, signing only 12 players in this class. Swinney's first recruiting class as a head coach became known as the "Dandy Dozen."
The main headliners in this class were defensive end Mallicah Goodman and quarterback Tajh Boyd, who surprisingly chose Clemson over both Oregon and Ohio State. And the results would prove to be in Clemson's favor for upcoming recruiting classes.
4. 2010 Class
The 2010 class was not a star-filled class, but it fulfilled certain needs and brought in more talent thanks in large part to Clemson's success in claiming the Atlantic Division and in retaining scholarships from the 2008 class.
The big headliners in this class include receiver Deandre 'Nuk' Hopkins, with several highly recruited defensive backs in Martin Jenkins, Bashaud Breeland and Darius Robinson. Today, names like running back DJ Howard have made their names a little brighter as the backup to Andre Ellington.
3. 2008 Class
Tommy Bowden's last hoorah as Clemson head coach was the class of 2008, which still remains among the roster today in spring practice.
While most of this class have moved on, the red-shirts remain in the forms of running back Andre Ellington, center Dalton Freeman, safety Rashard Hall, tight end Brandon Ford and receiver Jaron Brown. Big names like Dawson Zimmerman and tight end Dwayne Allen have both moved on from this class. But, all of them were instrumental in Clemson's 2011 season and ACC Championship success.
2. 2012 Class
Dabo Swinney continues to show the whole of college football that he is a recruiter to be reckoned with. He has built his staff to the point that Clemson can recruit with anyone.
In this most recent class, the Tigers, while signing 20 players, gained a second top 10-ranked recruiting class after the previous class of 2011. The Tigers fulfilled needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, while also nabbing talented future playmakers such as receiver Germone Hopper and quarterback Chad Kelly.
One of the biggest gems on defense for this class was defensive back Travis Blanks, a very highly sought defensive back by over 15 schools. While this class has yet to make its impact, it is full of a lot of upside that fans may see sooner rather than later.
1. 2011 Class
The class of 2011 was the biggest catch for Swinney that, coupled with the hire of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, helped to put the Tigers back on the map as the top contenders of the ACC.
In a year when the Tigers needed to boost their offense, the Tigers signed top receiver Sammy Watkins out of Florida, top prep school standout in receiver Martavis Bryant and added speed to the backfield by signing Mike Bellamy. This class also saw the Tigers succeed in signing some top talent at linebacker in Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward, along with underrated talents in Lateek Townsend and BJ Goodson.
This corps of linebackers has a chance to be one of the best groups at Clemson in some time, while Watkins made a household name for himself his freshman year by earning Freshman All-American honors, and does not look like he plans to slow down anytime soon.