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Signing Day Success

CLEMSON – As Clemson wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney walked down the hallway where the coaches are located late Wednesday afternoon, Tigers recruiting coordinator David Blackwell passed him and then shouted, "Great job Dabo!" <BR>

The end of a very good day had come and there was reason to celebrate and congratulate each other.

Thanks to the relentless work of Swinney and Blackwell, as well as assistant coaches Ron West and Brad Scott, Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden signed what he believes is the best recruiting class he's had at Clemson, which highlighted by the dramatic signing of linebacker Antonio Clay.

"There's some size and some lean body mass there," Bowden said. "I think from top to bottom, by far this is the most productive class we've brought in. …

"I think with this class, we're closing the gap on (South Carolina)," Bowden said. "If we can close the gap against them, then we can close the gap with ACC teams like the Florida States, Miamis and Virginias."

Thanks to signings of tailback James Davis, wide receiver Rendrick Taylor and offensive linemen Cory Lambert and Barry Humphries, it was going to be a good class regardless.

"We knew it was going to be a strong year in running backs this year," Blackwell said. "That's why we held off of signing one last year. James was the No. 1 guy on our board from day one."

But the addition of Clay, who stopped in the middle of signing his letter of intent to re-think his decision for a few hours, was the cherry that topped this class of recruits.

"I think from a national perspective, (signing Clay) gives you a boost," Bowden said. "But the way it happened kind of shines a light on your class. But we could have been happy with our class either way."

Clay chose Clemson after committing to several other schools during the recruiting process, including both Oklahoma and Miami.

"Ron West was absolutely relentless (in recruiting Clay)," Blackwell said. "We told (Clay) that we were the first to offer you a scholarship and we're going to be the last still there when the smoke clears. Ron stayed at it and never gave up where other coaches might have."

After taking a lot of heat about what seemed to be at the time was a sub-par recruiting class last year, Blackwell was all smiles Wednesday.

"It's a very balanced class," he said. "When we lost a guy, we didn't have to fall back to the next level. We had enough on the top shelf that we could choose from."

Neither Bowden nor Blackwell would name names when asked what players could come right in and push for a starting spot. But they both anticipate there will be.

"There are always surprises and disappointments," Bowden said. "But there are several guys that could make and immediate impact."

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