Bowden, Tigers Continue Talent Upgrade

CLEMSON – As Tommy Bowden sat on stage addressing the gathered media, there wasn't a lot of patting his own back or big smiles streamed across his face as a result of signing potentially one of his best recruiting classes at Clemson.

Instead, he exuded cautious optimism.

He's had high ranking classes before, like the one in 2001, which turned out to be nothing special. But he's also had low ranked classes that turned out to be very, very good, like the one in 2004.

"From a coaching perspective, it's a lot easier to keep it in line where it's deserved as far as a true evaluation four years down the line," Bowden said. "It's kind of like the preseason polls. It's kind of nice, but they're insignificant. Same way with these kind of ratings. Just because you're ranked high obviously doesn't necessarily guarantee that you're going to have a good class."

But even with the display of tempered enthusiasm, Bowden has to be giddy deep inside for this is the type of recruiting class he's been creeping toward for the past three years.

Starting with the signing class of James Davis, the coaching staff at Clemson has displayed the ability to grab a couple of big-time recruits.

This year, it was a bucket full.

"About 10 days ago, we had about seven guys on the table that were high ranked guys," Bowden said. "We ended up getting six of them. … We've been in situations like that before where you might have five on the table and get three or five on the table and get none or five on the table and get one.

"But to have seven on the table and get six, it doesn't happen very often and probably won't happen very often, but it did it did happen this year."

What Bowden likes best is that it's not top heavy at any one position, as in 2001 when it was loaded with receivers.

In other words there's talent across the board.

"We also have some kickers and a snapper," he said. "And I think that's probably what's more exciting than the rankings or anything else was the fact that I think we supplied some needs.

"We were really thin at safety and hired a bunch of safeties. We've got some backs on the team now, but since I've been here we haven't had a 225-pound tailback. The offensive line, fulfilling those needs, and quarterback, wide receiver, corner and at linebacker we needed three and got three."

Bowden also said there's a direct correlation between the recruiting classes getting better and the WestZone Project, which still is a few years from being completed. He also said that when it's done that the recruiting should get even better.

But it's going to take more than just stadium expansion to ensure that the Tigers aren't one-hit wonders in recruiting, like what happened between last year and this year with North Carolina and South Carolina.

"I don't think that I've tapped the potential of this school since I've been here," Bowden said. "I think once we finish these facilities we can elevate it to another level. And once we win a championship, we can elevate it to another level. There's definitely room for improvement." Top Stories