"Back in February of whatever day that was in '09 and just laid it all out on the table, the list of things that were going to happen during this group's five years, y'all would have all thought we were crazy," Swinney said. "It was unthinkable at that time, and I've talked a lot about that this year with our guys. It wasn't to them. And they deserve the credit."
In the last five seasons, Clemson has won 46 games, an ACC Championship and two bowl games.
"It's just been amazing the things that they have accomplished, they've changed Clemson," Swinney said. "They came here to change Clemson. They've bought into -- let's change this place, and we can do it. They bought into that and that's where we are.
"There is a very, very solid foundation in place here, and that's because of all the hard work that's gone in over the last five years by this group, because they've been a part of everything. They've been a part of the things on the field, the things in the community, academically, the success that we've had there, the recruiting, they've had their hands on everything.
"To see them leave here, it is special, because it was my first group."
Tajh Boyd headlined the group from start to finish. But there were plenty of other difference makers.
"Meeting a guy like Spencer Shuey, who we weren't eve recruiting. We said, ‘OK, he's a football player.' To see where he is now, the development in guys like Darrell Smith and Brandon Thomas, Quandon Christian, nobody knew who Quandon Christian was -- that's what it's all about," Swinney said. "Then, the Tajh Boyds, to kind of mix into that crowd, and to see how he's matured and grown, changed as a person, how he's represented our program with such class is awesome. We're going to miss those guys."
Ohio State developmentsAbout the only major potential loss for Clemson in the Orange Bowl is Stanton Seckinger, who sprained an ankle during practice, and is listed as questionable.
Ohio State has dealt with plenty over the last week or so. Leading sack man Noah Spence is suspended for the game. Quarterback Braxton Miller is one of several players on the team that had to deal with a stomach bug.
"I'm just concerned about Clemson, making sure that we're ready to play, we know our plan. That's all that matters to me," Swinney said. "They've got plenty of players over there at Ohio State. It's unfortunate that they're not going to have No. 8. He's a great football player, leads the team in sacks.
"They've got a bunch of good players over there. They've rolled guys all year long. They've got experience. It's not like it's an opener. That football team has played a bunch of guys. We're going to have to take care of our business and play well."
Youth was servedThe last time Swinney brought a team down to Miami it didn't end pretty. Several of the freshmen and sophomores on that 2011 Clemson team are now juniors and seniors.
He believes there's significant difference between the two teams.
"I just think we're a more mature team," Swinney said. "Y'all have heard me say many times, we had 42 freshmen on that roster. We didn't know what we didn't know. I just think we're a more experienced, more mature team that's had three seasons of wining 10-plus games.
"We didn't have that a couple of years ago to draw on. We'll see how that goes."