CLEMSON, S.C. — Fresh off a surprise Atlantic Coast Conference title, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney snagged another highly-rated recruiting class as he tries to rebuild the Tigers into a national power from the bottom up.
Clemson signed 20 players Wednesday in a class that hovered around the top 10 in most of the rankings. Swinney signed a similarly ranked class last year, and the coach bragged that just like he won the school’s first ACC title in two decades last season, he now also had the first back-to-back top 10 classes since the late 1980s too.
The Tigers should go into next season with 60 of their 85 scholarship players either freshmen or sophomores and just 11 of them seniors
“It’s really exciting to me because we are built to make a run,” said Swinney, who is going into his fourth full year as Clemson’s coach.
While Swinney mentioned last year’s ACC title several times, not a single word was said about the Tigers’ 70-33 loss in the Orange Bowl to West Virginia. Instead, Swinney spoke about building a program that competes nationally both for recruits and on the field.
Clemson signed 10 defensive players, nine players on offense and a punter. Four signees were on the offensive line, and four were on the defensive line, both big needs for the Tigers.
This year’s signing day was much less dramatic than last year’s, as 17 of Clemson’s 20 recruits had agreed to come before the 2011 season kicked off. They all kept their word. And the biggest recruit the Tigers were still pursuing, D.J. Reader, called Swinney on Monday night to tell him he was coming.
Reader is a 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman from Greensboro, N.C., who also plans to be a pitcher for the Clemson baseball team.
Later Wednesday, Swinney announced that reserve wide receiver Joe Craig had been dismissed from the team .
Swinney said Craig, who also is a sprinter on the Clemson track team, was permanently dismissed for violating team rules.
Craig was a redshirt freshman last year.