Dabo's 2011 recruting class is his best class yet, ranking among the top ten.
The 2010 season for the Clemson Tigers fell far short of expectations.
Coming off a 9-4 season in which first-year head coach Dabo Swinney won the Atlantic Division, the Tigers hit a major bump in the road by falling to a disgraceful record of 6-7. This was the first losing season for the Tigers since the Tommy West era over a decade ago.
Swinney has guaranteed that while he is head coach, a season like 2010 will never happen again. He has put his words into action immediately, starting with the terminations of offensive coordinator Billy Napier and running backs/special teams coordinator Andre Powell.
To replace them, Swinney has hired Tulsa's offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who looks to install a fast-paced offense and bring some life into the Clemson offense.
Powell was replaced by Tony Elliott as running backs coach, and Marion Hobby has returned after the departure of Chris Rumph to Alabama.
A lot has happened for this Clemson football program this offseason, and more changes are sure to come, especially after signing day.
Despite all of the changes, Clemson has held on to all of its commitments (with the exception of running back Marlin Lane due to off the field concerns) and has even added great prospects in defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and linebacker Lateek Townsend. Swinney and the coaching staff have done a phenomenal job in holding on to their commitments and possessing a top 10 recruiting class.
Barring any injuries, several of these players have the chance to play immediately, especially on offense, which was in need of more playmakers at the wide receiver and skill positions. Clemson has several top players coming in that could mean the difference between a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game or a return trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The first gem of the offensive recruiting class of 2011 is running back Mike Bellamy. Coming out of Punta Gorda, Florida, Bellamy is rated as one of the top running backs, if not the best, out of the state of Florida and is rated the No. 4 overall running back in the nation by Tom Lemming.
Bellamy is described as a game-breaker and is a threat to take it all the way. He has been clocked at 4.31 in the 40-yard dash, and he measures at 5'10" and weighs around 187 pounds. Many compare him to the Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson coming out of high school.
Bellamy was recruited by seven other schools, including big-time schools like LSU, Alabama and Florida.
Bellamy will see immediate playing time and looks very likely to become the second-string back behind Andre Ellington, especially with the departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL and the loss of Marlin Lane, who Clemson dropped off its recruiting list due to off the field issues.
Bellamy's ability and speed will certainly add plenty of explosiveness to the Clemson offense, and he looks to fit in well with Chad Morris' need for speed in his spread attack.
The first big wide receiver the coaching staff cashed in was the gem of South Carolina's wide receivers, Charone Peake out of Roebuck, South Carolina.
Coming in at 6'4", weighing 210 pounds, Peake brings a physical, tall target into the Clemson offense. Clocked at 4.40, Peake is one of the best downfield receivers in the nation, which is especially important for a Clemson offense that lacked a downfield threat all last season.
His size and height allows for more mismatches against smaller defensive backs and makes him tougher to defend on the outside.
This true deep threat out of South Carolina received offers from over 15 schools, and among them were USC, Florida, Stanford, LSU, Auburn and South Carolina.
Peake was one of the first additions of the 2011 recruiting class and will see immediate playing time. He immediately gives the offense a potential playmaker on the outside that can stretch a defense vertically and gives Tajh Boyd a reliable, true deep threat.
A recent commitment to this class, Pagan is one of the biggest jewels for the recruiting class defensively. Coming in at 6'5", weighing 255 pounds, Pagan is at a good playing size for this defense and has the frame to add extra bulk and weight, which the coaching staff will likely want to happen.
Coming out of Asheville, North Carolina, Pagan, despite being a former receiver learning to play defensive end, is the No. 3-rated defensive end in the nation and rated as the No. 2 player in the state of North Carolina. Pagan specializes in rushing the quarterback and has good speed and ability off the edge to pressure the quarterback.
Pagan committed to Clemson over other offers from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina.
Pagan immediately adds depth to an already experienced defensive line, looking to fill the open spot left behind by Da'Quan Bowers, who declared early for the 2011 draft. He has the intangibles to start at either defensive end spot but looks to likely become involved in the defensive end rotations, with Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch the likely starters at both defensive end positions.
Lateek Townsend was definitely the biggest surprise splash for the 2011 recruiting class, as he was supposedly heading to Columbia to play for South Carolina. Well, things change.
Clemson has had trouble the last couple of years in recruiting top-caliber linebackers, and Townsend is just what the staff needed to boost Clemson's play at linebacker.
Coming in at 6'2" and weighing around 200 pounds, Townsend is a tall outside linebacker coming out of Bennettsville, South Carolina. He possesses a good motor on the football field and shows exceptional speed in getting to the football, an essential tool for an outside linebacker. He possesses the ability to rush well off the edge and is reliable in coverage and run support.
While Townsend will need to add some bulk to his 200-pound frame, he is sure to be looked into to for immediate playing time and is sure to get into the rotation at outside linebacker.
Martavis Bryant brings much-needed help to a deprived Clemson receiving corps. Previously a commitment to Clemson's 2010 class, Bryant fell a half credit short and had to enroll at Hargrave Military Academy, along with Corey Crawford, to finish his credits to enroll at Clemson.
A highly-touted receiver, Bryant is rated as a 4-star receiver by most services and is a big target at 6'3" and coming in at 195 pounds.
With these intangibles, Bryant, like his 2010 fellow receiver DeAndre Hopkins, has the intangibles to become a great receiver for the Clemson Tigers. Coach Davis has described and compared him to former Hargrave and N.C. State receiver Torry Holt.
Bryant has good, strong hands and has shown the ability to produce yards after the catch. His 6'3" height gives him an advantage over smaller defensive backs, essentially making him a threat on the outside. He must work on his route running and overall technique but has great upside to become a factor in Clemson's passing game.
Bryant's ability on offense shall allow him to avoid a redshirt and receive immediate playing time, and he will compete for one of the three open receiving positions that are likely to be open at the start of fall camp.
Eric MacLain is a highly-touted tight end out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Coming in at 6'5" and weighing 245 pounds, MacLain immediately gives the Tigers another big target at tight end to go along with starter Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford.
While MacLain played several positions in high school, he will play tight end for Clemson at the next level.
Recruited by about 10 other schools, MacLain was an early Tennessee commitment before their coaching change, at which point they no longer seemed interested in MacLain. MacLain would commit to Clemson around March after Tennessee dropped their interest in him.
Rated as a 3- to 4-star prospect, MacLain provides a balance of pass catching and is at a good size to run and pass block at 245 pounds. He is described as a good athlete, and while he doesn't have good speed, he makes up for it with good route running, awareness and good hands.
He is an intelligent player, and with his intangibles, it is likely he can contribute as a freshman and earn some playing time, especially if Victor Beasley makes a position change to linebacker.
A dark horse contender that could surprise some is another wide receiver out of South Carolina by the name of Adam Humphries, a teammate of fellow Clemson commit Charone Peake, out of Roebuck, South Carolina.
While not as highly touted as Peake, Humphries comes in at 5'11" and weighs in at around 176 pounds. The big positive on Humphries is how much he reminds the coaches of former Clemson receiver Tyler Grisham: a tough, gritty and sure-handed receiver that could make the catches out of the slot position.
Humphries could well be the next Tyler Grisham that Clemson needs at wide receiver. Humphries has been overshadowed by a lot of the talent in Clemson's 2011 recruiting class, and while he can add some bulk to his 176-pound frame, it's still possible for him to avoid a redshirt and compete for playing time at the slot position.