Huge Recruiting Weekend in Clemson

The Clemson-Georgia game represents much more than just a contest between two old rivals Saturday afternoon. Some of the top talent from around the southeast will be on hand to watch these two teams do battle, as the 2004 recruiting wars begin to heat up.

These days, the Clemson-Georgia game is more than just a rivalry between two schools that are less than 100 miles apart.

When the Dawgs and Tigers kickoff Saturday afternoon around 12:07, there will likely be over 100 high school prospects in attendance to take in the game.

With those kinds of numbers in that kind of atmosphere, if the Tigers are able to put together a decent performance, it could go a long ways in helping build some recruiting momentum for the 2004 class.

"The biggest thing that could help us out (recruiting wise) is getting some wins," said assistant coach Dabo Swinney. "We have to do our part on the field, and the recruiting will take care of itself."

With an ABC Regional audience on hand and the 9th ranked Georgia Bulldogs making the trip up from Athens, a whole host of recruits plan on making the trip up to Clemson Saturday afternoon.

"I'm going to the Clemson/Georgia game this weekend," said wide receiver Sidney Rice, a recent prospect who took back his verbal commitment to the University of South Carolina earlier this month.

"South Carolina, Tennessee, Syracuse, South Carolina State and Clemson have offered. I was committed to South Carolina but I'm open now. I have no timetable for my decision now that I am open."

Rice isn't the only in-state prospect planning to be in Tiger Town.

Greer's Sinclair Cannon, Spring Valley's Mack Frost and Leon Hart, Northwestern's C.J. Barber, and Boiling Springs Brooks Foster are just a few of the names expected to be in attendance.

"I'm coming," Leon Hart told CUTigers.com earlier this week. "Mack Frost and Billy Jackson are coming as well. I will be coming with Billy."

Hart, the state's top ranked offensive line prospect appears to be wide open headed into the heart of the season, even though some experts have already pegged him as a likely candidate to head out of state.

For head coach Tommy Bowden, Saturday's game against the 9th ranked Georgia Bulldogs is especially important, simply because his coaching staff usually pulls a handful of prospects out of the Peach State every year.

"If we beat them, it makes recruiting easier," said the Tigers' head man. "Right now, with the success they've had it's important for us to do well there. You look at Georgia the last 4 years; they've had 14 guys drafted."

Even though the Tigers played Georgia close last season, the strength of a 13-1 record and an SEC Champonship virtually locked down the borders of the state of Georgia when it comes to recruiting.

"Everybody they wanted from the state of Georgia, they got. The guys that we got from Georgia- they didn't want," said Bowden.

He's right, the Tigers were only able to grab 4 players from Georgia in 2003, and amazingly enough, all 4 players failed to receive offers from the Dawgs. (Brandon Pilgrim, Robert Reese, Kwam Williams, and Zach Green)

Like it or not, Georgia is home to some of the top talent in the country year in and year out.

"I think I did a study at Tulane trying to figure out which states produced the most NFL talent it went something like Florida, California, and Texas, and then Georgia was like 4th or 5th based on population and the number of players in the NFL," added Bowden.

All that means is that Saturday's game is that much more important: more important for the football program, more important for the coaches, and more important for the recruits that will be there to take it all in.

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