Tigers building for 2013 class

CLEMSON - Recruiting is the foundation of college football, and Dabo Swinney is confident that his program is building itself the right way.


Clemson's 2010 signing class, which included DeAndre Hopkins, Corey Crawford, Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland, was ranked No. 23 in the country by Scout.com.

The 2011 haul of four and five-star talent like Sammy Watkins, Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward, Mike Bellamy and Charone Peake was 11th.

"This year, as we've been recruiting and getting everything in the program the way I want it, I'm very proud of where we are," Swinney said. "We've still got a long way to go, big picture-wise. We're probably a little bit ahead of where I thought we'd be this year, even though I expect to win every single week. To see our quarterback play like he's played, in his first year as a starter.

"Some of these young players like a Sammy Watkins, to come in here and done what he's done. Those are things that you can't really expect right out of the gate."

Clemson [8-1, 5-1 ACC} is No. 11 in the BCS. The Tigers reached No. 5 before losing last week in Atlanta.

With 42 of the 85 scholarships out to freshmen, much of this season's success can be attributed to the quality additions through the last couple of signing classes.

"I think the last two classes have been very solid," Swinney said. "This last class [2011] was great. This class we're about to sign has a chance to be great. I think our '13 class may have a chance to be as good as we signed."

The 2012 class, though nearly full with 20 commitments, is ninth-best in the country. There could be as many as 24 signed by Clemson on the first Wednesday in February.

Clemson has received commitments from a number of four-star prospects, including Travis Blanks, Carlos Watkins, Martin Aiken and Patrick Destefano. The Tigers have targeted several nationally regarded prospects like Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley, Keith Brown, Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard.

For now, the 2013 class is a group of one -- R.J. Prince, who made his commitment after the North Carolina game.

"I'm excited about where we're going," Swinney said. "It's all a process. As I've said many times, I don't need a lot of patience, just a little bit. Then we're going to get this program on very, very solid footing, where we can be a national contender, and have a national presence every year."

And it all goes back to success on the recruiting trail.

"That starts with having all areas of your program in sync," Swinney said. "Then, putting class back-to-back-to-back. That's how you do it. We've never really done that at Clemson. There's this great perception out there that we've always put together these great classes. I don't know where that comes from.

"We've had great classes here and there. We've signed a great player here and there. Not since, probably the 80's, really built a program through recruiting. That's what we're trying to do."

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