And that is how they meet your team's needs. This is a multi-dimensional task, and a lot harder than it seems. First you have to look at who graduates, and who may go pro, then after that you have to analyze the talent on your roster already, and see where you need an upgrade. Combine this with the fact that you have to find kids willing to come play for you, and recruiting is a very tough game. So without further delay, let's take a gander at how our coaches filled our needs.
The first place everyone looks on offense is Quarterback, so we'll start there. Gone is All Everything player Woodrow Dantzler, leaving 2 Scholarship Quarterbacks on the roster. First Bowden goes down to Florida to pick up a very underrated Will Proctor, who will make some noise before he leaves Clemson, and then wins the Chansi Stuckey sweepstakes. People list Stuckey as an "Athlete," but having seen him play, he will get the shot at QB he wants. He has a lively arm, and just makes things happen when he has the ball. A lot like another guy we have seen under center these past 2 seasons. Grade for the coaches here is a definite A.
It all starts with the offensive line, and Clemson sorely needed numbers this year. The staff did a good job getting the numbers they needed bringing in 5 stalwarts, many of whom are vastly underrated. University of Georgia coach Mark Richt told me he wanted to offer Roman Fry, but knew that it would be a waste of time since Roman "Was seeing orange." Offensive line is the toughest position to gauge future success in a prospect. It is tough to tell whether a 270 pound 17 year old is done growing, or whether he will put on some more pounds. When looking at rankings, pay the least attention to OL rankings. The staff missed on some prospects they wanted to other programs, but did a good job bringing in some big guys who will contribute to the program. Keep an eye on Nathan Bennett and Dustin Fry this year. Grade- B
With a Bowden at the helm of Clemson's ship, Tiger fans should never worry about the skill positions, and this year was no exception. Another stellar haul at WR with Tymere Zimmerman, and Kelvin Grant. Both received heavy courting from other programs before giving their pledge to Clemson. Both these guys can, and will log heavy minutes in 2002, adding to what could be the most talented group of Wide Receivers to ever grace Clemson's campus. With a more than capable trio of Running Back's already on campus, this was not a priority position, but the staff went out and got 2 good ones. Reggie Merriweather was a productivity machine this year averaging 7 yards a carry, amassing almost 2,500 yards for the season. Duane Coleman came onto the Tiger's recruiting radar late, and spurned pushes from Ohio State, Miami and Florida to come to Clemson. A High School coach told me "Coleman can take over a game anytime he touches the ball, without question he is an impact player." So while neither of these guys will be expected to contribute immediately, they will be talented additions to the Tiger backfield. My grade here is an A.
For years now Tiger fans have prided themselves on stout defenses. The past few years though, it has been the offense stealing the show in Death Valley. Seeing Wofford run on our once proud D, and seeing WR's buzzing all over the field has made many a Tiger yearn for the days of yore when Jeff Davis and co. made sure no one got out of Death Valley without earning it. Let's see how we did….
On defense it all starts up front. If you can control the line of scrimmage, you are basically taking pages out of the opposing offensive coordinators playbook. The Clemson front 4 was in dire need of some young talent, and that is exactly what it got. Not having seen a serious pass rusher since Donald Broomfield, Tiger fans can look forward to Gaines Adams and Brandon Cannon coming off the corner for years to come. Both these guys possess serious talent, and both will be given every opportunity to play very early. On the interior Clemson snagged three DT prospects who could also come in and play early. Corey Groover was a man among boys at the Shrine Bowl. He is 265, but looks like he was carved out of stone. If he can pull his grades up, he could be in the 2 deep before the ACC schedule starts. In Irvin Brisker and Vontrell Jamison the Tigers got 2 very tall, very strong, and very athletic big men for the trenches. Both of these guys are legit in their 6'7 listings, both have very long arms, and both could bottom out at 300 lbs. Given a year in the weight room, both of these guys could break into the starting role when Nick Eason graduates. In this area I give the Tigers an A-.
I could fill a month's worth of columns about Clemson's rich Linebacker heritage, and the most recent recruiting class does nothing but add to that legacy. The Tigers inked 4 guys with as much upside as has ever been seen in TigerTown. Much has been said about Brandon Jamison and Kelvin Morris, and all of the accolades they receive are justly deserved. Both these guys are fast, strong, and they know how to take over a football game. Look for Morris to push for the starting MLB role, and Brandon to make a run at WLB. Due to Ricardo Hurley's perpetual presence in the limelight, Anthony Waters did not receive a whole lot of pub, but anyone who saw him play knows that Clemson is getting a true gem. At 6'3 205 he has a frame to add 20-30 lbs without losing a step. He flows very well to the ball, and plays much better in space than does Hurley. With a redshirt year, look for Waters to push for playing time in 2003. He's that good. The forgotten man in this grouping of talent is Donnell Clark, from talent rich Griffen Ga. Some speculate he will grow into a Defensive Lineman, but I think he would be perfect to play MLB when Kelvin Morris graduates. He flows to the ball very well, and is not shy about filling holes with authority.
The last part of the defense, and quite possible the most maligned is the secondary. It should be apparent to anyone that this area was in DIRE need of a talent upgrade. What does our staff do? Go out and pick up three All Americans, and a couple of other solid prospects. In Larry Williams, Justin Miller and Jeff Franceour you conceivably have three guys who could come in on day one and start, without having much, if any of a drop off. These 3 guys could have played for any school in the country, we should thank our lucky stars they chose Clemson. Chris Carter is a guy, who if his stat sheet is correct, could be a true "diamond in the rough" on film he looks like he can fly, but needs to work on his technique and his use of hands in press coverage. Short on publicity, but long on potential, we could hear some from him down the road. A wild card here is Gerald McCloud. People in Columbia wanted him to play their "Spur" safety position, and he looks to be a good enough athlete to play either Strong Safety or Free Safety. From looks of need, I see him starting out at Strong. My grade to the coaching staff here is without question an A+. Look to hear lots from Buddy Williams and Justin Miller this year. Ditto for Franceour if he can pull a Roscoe and say "no" to MLB.
Considering a 7-5 record, no defensive coordinator, a good year by the other in-state team, and a host of other things that seemed to plague the Tigers this year, I give the Tiger coaching staff an A+ for the job done this year.
I also want to congratulate Roy and the rest of the CUTigers.com staff, as they provided seamless coverage on signing day!
Keep watching for part 3 of the recruiting breakdown entitled "Building Bridges to the future" I think you'll like it.
Part II: Filling Needs
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