Every year about this time you can always expect two things in the Clemson area.
No. 1: unpredictable weather. The upstate of South Carolina can go from 19 degrees to 70 in the span of 12 hours on any single day in January.
And No. 2: Clemson's big recruiting weekend.
Usually the Tigers hold their annual recruiting extravaganza in conjunction with their awards banquet during the second weekend in January and usually, if everything works out right, there is also a home basketball game on Saturday.
This year is no different.
Saturday afternoon, Clemson will host N.C. State in Littlejohn Coliseum and Saturday evening the Tigers will hold their annual football awards banquet.
And all, 13 prospects are expected to make their way to Tigertown this Friday and Saturday as the football program will roll out the red carpet to continue its 2009 recruiting efforts.
As it stands now, the Clemson coaching staff plans on signing 19-20 prospects, but this year things are a little different headed towards the heart of January. Last year about this time the Clemson coaching staff had secured 18 verbal commitments and were looking for six to seven more to close down the class.
This year, because of the mid-year coaching change from Tommy Bowden to Dabo Swinney, the Tigers have just 11 verbal commitments.
Simply put, there is still much more work to be done and it starts this weekend.
Out of the 13 prospects expected on campus, five are currently committed to Clemson (OL Brandon Thomas, DE Malliciah Goodman, RB Roderick McDowell, LB Quandon Christian and LB Corico Hawkins), three are committed elsewhere (CB Justin Green -Ohio State, RB Tim Simon -Mississippi and OT JerQuari Schofield -Tennessee) and five are uncommitted (OG Quinton Washington, TE Terrell Mitchell, S Jonathan Scott, LB/DE Spencer Shuey and LB Roderic Blunt)
Surprisingly, one of the key aspects to signing some of the top prospects on the Tigers' board isn't necessarily facilities, fancy dinners or promises of early playing time.
It's actually much more personal than that.
Many times it comes down to the host of a prospect on his official visit.
Case in point: James Davis hosting five-star running back C.J. Spiller three years ago. It was the relationship formed between those two that became instrumental in Spiller signing with the Tigers instead of his childhood favorites of Florida or Florida State.
"We try to get them around the team as much as possible," Clemson recruiting coordinator Billy Napier said about the Tigers' big recruiting weekend. "We want to see if we like them as much as they like us.
"We try to get them to spend as much time with the team as possible. We want the prospect around our players as much as possible. That's kind of what we tell them."
The idea of which player will host which prospect is a complicated one as many factors are involved with the decision. Many times a prospect who plays the same position as the player will be the host. Other times the decision is made because the prospect and player are from the same hometown or same high school or because the two have similar personalities.
For example, linebacker Scotty Cooper will host Lake View linebacker and current Clemson commitment Quandon Christian this weekend. Cooper, from Lake City in South Carolina's Pee Dee region, grew up right down the road from Lake View, S.C. and the two obviously play the same position.
"Most of the guys like doing it," Clemson linebacker Scottie Cooper said. "You have some guys that don't like and you can always turn it down but most guys like it. Everybody kind of gets up for it every year. It's fun."
So while the WestZone has indeed helped Clemson's recruiting efforts, not to mention a young energetic coaching staff led by head coach Dabo Swinney and recruiting coordinator Billy Napier, there's much more that goes into Clemson's big recruiting weekend.
"The thing we've always stressed is just getting the kid on campus and letting Clemson sell itself," Napier said. "With the new things that we have here from facility standpoint, once you get them here, with the guys we have on this team, I think you've got a good shot, a legitimate shot at signing the kid."
It's the team itself.
It's the players that make the difference.
And after all, isn't that how it should be anyway?
Hosts Critical for Recruiting Weekend
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