Part III: Building Bridges to the Future

The end of recruiting season always culminates in one final thought "Ok, who are we looking at for next year." Visions of Johnnie Morant and Michael Boulware turn to dreams of Roscoe Crosby and Airese Currie hauling in scores, and as sure as the leaves turn in fall, visions of Kelvin Grant and the next hot shot recruits wearing orange dance through our heads.

One facet of recruiting that many times flies below the radar screen, but that intrigues me is how pipelines for the future are established. Sometimes it starts innocent enough. A Brian Dawkins and Patrick Sapp sign (Raines HS in Jacksonville), and all of a sudden Rod Gardner and Kevin Youngblood emerge, head to Clemson, and the pipeline is in place. Sometimes the pipeline is not at all an accident, make no mistake about it, Tommy Bowden is well aware of the talent at Marietta High School in suburbia Atlanta, and while Clemson won't land every stud to ever emerge from there, you better believe we'll get a visit, and in the recruiting game, that's all you can ask for people. Pipelines is how it happens. Every school has pipelines, certain schools just send players to certain teams, So let's take a gander at some recruits from this most recent crop of Tigers, and see what kind of pipelines to the future we're talking about.

South Carolina
Having connections in your own state is key, especially when it has the amount of talent normally found in the Palmetto State. This year, while losing out on some bigtime instate prospects, we did continue to develop, and cultivate pipelines to help the program.

Dustin Fry- Definitely one of the top lineman on our board all year long, but hailing from Summerville High School, outside Charleston, doesn't hurt either. This is one of the most storied prep level programs in the state, and numerous Green Wave alumni are found on college rosters throughout the south. With Bernard Rambert being a senior next year, having Big Dustin on the roster will help for years to come as Summerville is sure to crank out some more talent.

Kelvin Grant- Well, against all indicators and prognostications (including yours truly) the Camden connection will continue for another year. Camden is another perennial power in South Carolina, and the past 2 years have sent two defensive stars the Tiger's way. Charles Bennett and Mo Fountain will be heavy contributors for the Clemson defense, and Kelvin Grant will surely shine for the offense. The Camden pipeline has surely been a fruitful one for the Tigers, and will hopefully remain that way. Keep those Camden boys coming!

Throughout the nation it could easily be argued that Georgia is somewhere around top 5 in talent produced each year. Now, many times that talent does not qualify, but it is talent none the less. This year the Clemson staff broke down some walls at some serious talent factories in the Peach state.

Jeff Francouer- Mr. Francouer played his High School ball for Coach Cecil Flowe and his Parkview Panthers. To put it mildly you do NOT win 30 straight games (and counting) in Georgia's highest classification without having some serious horses on board. Parkview has several alumni in the NFL, sent the Stinchcomb brothers to UGA and the Muyres brothers to GT. The scary thing is, Jeff may have been the 4th or 5th best player on his team this year, as Parkview has some rising seniors who will be some of the most sought after players in the southeast next year. Whether he plays a down or not, getting Jeff on board will certainly help when heading down to Lilburn Ga. next year.

Chansi Stuckey- Northside Warner Robins is another AAAAA powerhouse in the state of Georgia. They gave Jeff Franceour and co a run for their money in the state title game this past year, and it seems like every year, they have one or two kids who everyone wants. This school, along with Warner Robins and Houston County High School are near one of the country's biggest Air Force bases, and they always are loaded with talent. Stuckey was a big fish in a pond full of them, getting him was huge, not only for his ability, but for getting Clemson's foot in the door in a talented region.

Tim DeBeer- Tim played for a private school in Atlanta known as Marist. Much like The Bolles Academy in Florida or DeMatha (for you basketball fans) Marist recruits heavily in order to put out a quality football team. Every single year they have 4-5 kids that go to ACC or SEC schools. This year alone 3 of their OL went to UGA, Clemson and Stanford respectively. It's like that year in, year out for Marist. Hopefully this will be the start of a beautiful relationship with the Atlanta private school.

All you ever need to know about Florida is that it produces around 200 Division One college football players every year. That is just sick talent. There is so much talent in this state that they pit Florida natives vs. the rest of the country in an annual all star game. Florida usually wins handily. How did we do there this year? Let's check.

Larry Williams- This side of Long Beach Poly, there was not a more closely followed group of teammates than the bunch that played for Tallahassee Lincoln. Greg Threat, Buddy Williams, Gavin Dickey and Pat Watkins had their every move discussed by thousands of fans every day. Imagine having a secondary made up of a Miami signee at one CB, a Clemson signee at the other and having the #1 safety in America picking up the rest. The scary thing is, they may have MORE talent in that secondary next year.

Fork Union Prep
During the past 2 years, Clemson has seen 4 athletes come their way via Fork Union. There is something about this place that just gets kids ready to play college football. Touting Alumni like Plaxico Burress, Eddie George and others, Clemson fans hope to see a steady stream of talent coming down from Fork Union every winter.

Just because you get a kid from a particular school, does not mean you will get looks from every single student athlete to come through the doors there, but in recruiting, you need every edge you can get, and having an alumnus from a particular High School sure makes recruits feel a little more comfortable when making their decision. This isn't only true on official visits, but when guys go home for the summer and they are wearing Clemson or Florida State attire, it just helps for your PR in that town. Top Stories