As everyone went crazy over the Robert Nkemdiche ordeal, where he was falsely believed to have given Dabo Swinney an ultimatum, the class that Clemson is building took a back seat. Everyone spent their time talking Nkemdiche, not noticing that Dabo, with the help of Brent Venables and the rest of his staff, is pushing to restore defense to Pickens County. Yesterday, the Tigers added to their class by way of Hawaii. As Greenville Online reports, Scott Pagano, a defensive tackle from Hawaii, pledged to the Clemson Tigers yesterday.
After a season that saw Clemson's defense surrender 30 or more points seven times and give up 29.3 points on average, fixing that side of the ball is job one for Dabo Swinney. He's hired Brent Venables to change the philosophy and get his boys coached up. He's also made a tremendous push in recruiting to get more talent to that side of the ball. He's done so, as Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminds us, by going from worst to first in the state of Georgia, but also in getting talent from Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina as well.
The marathon is not done, Swinney and Venables have eyes on the nation's top ranked defensive tackle, Montravius Adams, too. Adams, another member of the Georgia pipeline, would give Clemson one of the best future defensive lines that we've seen in quite some time.
Defense has got to be job one if you're Dabo Swinney. Getting bodies to play offense is no problem, having talent to rebuild Clemson's rich defensive tradition is the issue now. With Chad Morris locked in for the next few seasons, if Clemson wants to have a true shot at winning it all, they have to bring a defense to the party. From the looks of the Class of 2013 push, that's exactly what Swinney aims to do.
As more players climb into Dabo's boat and the Tigers slowly climb the rankings into the Top 15, his task becomes more difficult. On one end he must continue to get players to pledge allegiance to Clemson University. He also must fight to keep other big time recruiters like Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, from poaching his prized commits. February is a long way off; if Dabo can cross the finish line, class intact, he'll be a step closer to fixing the defense.