I had the privilege of appearing on the Opening Drive with Will Merritt and the Over Drive with Mickey Plyler on Signing Day, and on both instances, Clemson recruiting coordinator David Blackwell was on hand to answer our questions about the recruiting process. Here are some of the highlights of our conversations:
When asked about the players that were really targeted in the 2004 class, Coach Blackwell noted the following:
"We went after big bodied kids with speed. This was a year in which there were a lot of kids in-state that could play Division I-A college football and we went after them. We think that Dorrel Scott is one of the top defensive tackles in the state. We already got Cory Groover. I don't know if I've ever seen a kid of that size move that fast."
When asked if the staff gets any sort of "recruiting break" in the coming days, Coach Blackwell responded:
"We go straight to the juniors now. We will be heading down to Myrtle Beach here this weekend for the coaches clinic and it basically starts up all over again. With a lot of these kids, its a process of building a relationship that can span a year and half. So it all starts when they are juniors. We'll have our junior day coming up soon near the start of spring practice."
When asked about the loss of Mike McIntosh, Blackwell reiterated that wide receiver was a position that Clemson is already loaded at this year:
"You look at the guys we have coming back at wide receiver and there's a lot of talent and depth there. Would we have liked to sign (Mike McIntosh)? Sure. But I can tell you right now that we need a guy in here like Cory Lambert, or a guy in here like Barry Richardson or an Akeem Robinson. Those are the kinds that we couldn't afford to lose. Those are the guys that you don't see pop up every year."
Coach Blackwell went even more in-depth about Akeem Robinson. Robinson came down to Clemson and Florida before selecting the Tigers late last night:
"We feel really good about Akeem Robinson. He really developed over the course of his senior year down there at Carol City. We got to see the tape of his championship game there near the end, and fortunately, not too many other schools did or else they would have all offered him. Last night he was on the phone with Coach Bowden and Coach Zook at 2 o'clock in the morning trying to make a decision before he ultimately decided on us."
We also touched once again on Coach Blackwell's philosophy of bringing in multiple tight ends and "jumbo athletes" in this class:
"You can never have enough of those guys. You look at the teams that are competing for the National Championship and they all are stacked on the offensive and defensive lines. That's where the game is won. The more big guys we could sign in this class that had speed, the better. Typically you'll have your top-notch wide receivers and skill positions guys coming out of the state every year, but rarely do you have so many big, physical athletes with size and speed in one class. That's what we saw this year."
On the early verbal commitments of Bobby Hutchinson and Taylor Tremel:
"Those guys committed early on and after that happened, you saw a lot of schools start to back off. In reality, these are big and physical guys that we are really, really excited about."
Finally, Coach Blackwell touched on how he sees things developing from a recruiting standpoint next year:
"You look at how strong we closed this year and if we continue to build on that, then you'll really see that pay off in next year's recruiting class. You know this year there was 8 months of negativity floating around out there and then only 4 or 5 weeks of being positive. 5 weeks doesn't make up for 8 months. We continue to build on what we did last year on into the spring and into next season and you'll see that pay off."
Q&A with David Blackwell
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