Harbison adjusting to recruiting trail

CLEMSON — Picking Charlie Harbison as his co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach was a no-brainer for Dabo Swinney when he started putting his staff together last December.

His coaching career goes back 25 years and has included stops at Alabama twice, LSU, Mississippi State and before this current stint with the Tigers, he served three seasons on Tommy West's staff from 1995-'97.

"There are a lot of people that were here when I was here," Harbison said recently. "It is great to see familiar faces and I'm blessed to be back here. I'm blessed to be a part of Clemson and this family."

Some of those familiar faces are not necessarily restricted to Clemson. Harbison, who is known as a top-notch recruiter on Swinney's staff, is also running into some familiar faces on the recruiting front from his previous days in Tigertown.

However, it has been a challenge for Harbison this time around because he also has to tackle some new areas and learn different faces and names. But that's just part of the challenge of being a college football coach — they have to adjust to change all the time.

"When I came here, I hit the ground running," Harbison said.

And those runs have taken him to Columbia during this evaluation period as well as near his hometown of Shelby, N.C. and other parts around Cleveland County.

From there he has worked the Atlanta area, specifically Fulton County and south of Atlanta. And then he has hit the entire state of Alabama, an area he is more than familiar with thanks to his stops with the Crimson Tide and the previous two years at Mississippi State.

Other than the overall landscape of recruiting itself, the only difference for Harbison during this second run at recruiting for Clemson is the area he recruits in South Carolina. He has never recruited the Columbia area before so has welcomed that challenge.

Previously, he recruited the Abbeville area and neighboring counties near the Georgia line and into Georgia.

"You have to get familiar with the coaches. You have to build that relationship with them," Harbison said. "Even though I'm recruiting back near my hometown, I have not recruited there in a while. Coaches change so you have to get familiar with them and build better relationships with the staffs in those areas and go from there."

And thanks to Web sites, emails, cell phones, texts and message boards, Harbison said recruiting is as challenging as it ever has been and it forces a coach even during the season or in spring practices, to stay on his toes when it comes to his areas, the schools and players he is recruiting.

"You just have to change hats and go from there," he said. "It is a year around deal now. You have to have players to play so that's basically about it."


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