John Bolton Photography

ALOHA with Attitude

Clemson's starting defensive tackle Scott Pagano has traversed the continent to play for the Tigers.

Let’s take a trip back almost three years ago to the cold February morning in 2013 on national signing day.  A day which saw the Tigers once again draw in blue chip candidates from within the entire region and some national prospects that were geographically away from the normal footprint in which Clemson recruits.  There was surely one geographical locale in the 2013 class that stood out to me when I looked at the class’s origins.   


How in the heck did Clemson get a kid from Hawaii to sign? And not just a kid but also the #1 prospect on the Island Chain?  A kid with offers from Oregon, FSU, Florida, LSU and a host of other national suitors? A recruit that had to make trips all the way across the country to participate in skill camps to prove his worth to recruiting experts?  Skeptics pointed to the quality of opponents on the small Island Chain that make up the state of Hawaii as being suspect.  It gave pundits reason to doubt the big Hawaiian’s status versus the prospects playing in more competitive leagues on the mainland.


Having done so, Scott more than proved himself in these camp settings and environments repeatedly during the summer before his senior campaign on the gridiron.  By the end of his senior season the warrior from the Aloha State had managed to climb onto almost all the major west coast recruiting boards, as well as some belonging to ACC and SEC schools.  Intriguing was his mix of attitude, size and raw athleticism.  As seen in his high school footage, Pagano was an unblockable force from his interior position on the defensive front.  All of the sudden Scott was a blue chip, high 4-star prospect on everyone’s radar, including Dabo Swinney’s—who had his eyes on Scott early in the process.


Eventually, local ties to the area made his visit to Clemson a reality, and the culmination of his recruiting resulted in Pagano signing with Clemson in 2013. 


Move the calendars forward 3 years, and here we are with Scott now starting his first game as a Clemson Tiger after enduring a red shirt season and a year backing up arguably the most talented defensive unit to ever grace Death Valley.  The patient young man has waited his turn, and—as we saw last week versus Wofford—it looks like this young man is pouring out 2.5 years of patience onto the field.  His constant presence in the Wofford backfield during the first three quarters of last Saturday’s contest can attest to his desire to make an instant impact. 


After seeing Pagano wait his turn, we have now seen flashes of the potential we all knew he had on that cold day in February in 2013.  Stay tuned, Tiger fans, the “Hawaiian Punch” is just beginning his time as a Tiger and is just getting started! Top Stories