Late in the game surprises

Big-name, down to the wire surprises have become commonplace over the past several years in Clemson recruiting.

The way things have been shaping up of late, there could be another in 2010.

Looking back to last year around this time, Tajh Boyd, a five-star quarterback out of Phoebus High School (Hampton, V.A.) had Clemson in a final group with Ohio State and Oregon. Then, on Jan. 27, he committed to newly named head coach Dabo Swinney.

"I felt like I can come in and compete early and try to help the team out and win an ACC Championship," Boyd said on the day of his announcement. "I had a great relationship with the coaches and I feel like I can improve my game and maybe get into the NFL one day.

"I'm looking forward to it. Competition will only make you better and I'm looking forward to having that at Clemson."

After redshirting in the fall, Boyd will indeed be competing for snaps this fall.

In 2008, Clemson picked up a trio of National Signing Day commitments. Two years into their respective careers, all three have made an impact for the Tigers.

Five-star running back Jamie Harper, out of Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., selected Clemson over Florida, Florida State, Miami and Illinois.

"The spiritual aspect was one thing that stood out to me and I liked the way they carried themselves on all of my visits," he said during his announcement on ESPNU.

While splitting time with Andre Ellington and C.J. Spiller last season, Harper rushed for 418 yards and four touchdowns.

Originally committed to Georgia, tight end Dwayne Allen made the surprise announcement on that same day as Harper, and committed to Clemson. The Terry Sanford High School (Fayetteville, N.C.) four-star also had offers from Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.

"I went with my heart. This was my decision," Allen said.

As the second tight end last season, he had 10 receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns.

Anniston High School (Alabama) four-star offensive tackle Antoine McClain chose Clemson two days before signing day, but didn't announce until that day. He had offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Tennessee.

C.J. Spiller pulled one of the biggest surprises in the nation in 2006 when he announced for Clemson over Florida and Florida State. (Adrian Chapman)
Last season, McClain was the starting right guard.

In 2007, Victory Christian Center School four-star defensive end Kourtnei Brown selected Clemson over two others.

"Alabama finished second and North Carolina finished third," Brown said on signing day. "The most important reason I chose Clemson was academics. I know that they have one of the best graduation rates and that was important to me."

With a lot of depth at defensive end heading into last season, Brown opted to redshirt last season.

The year before in 2006, the big-name surprise was recent Union County High School running back (Lake Butler, Fla.) C.J. Spiller.

"Before we got here he told me that it wasn't going to be Florida State so I knew Florida State was out of it," said his mom, Patricia Watkins. "I knew it was Florida and Clemson and in my heart I really felt that it was going to be Florida so it was a big shock to me."

As a senior at Clemson, he gained 2,680 all-purpose yards and scored 21 touchdowns. He was the only player in college football to score a touchdown in every game in 2009. Spiller finished his career the second-best all-purpose rusher in college football history.

When Clemson fans look back to the 2010 class, will there be another surprise to speak of?

National Signing Day is less than a week away, but history tells us the answer is usually a resounding "yes." Top Stories