CLEMSON - CUTigers publisher Roy Philpott weighs in on thoughts from the practice fields as the…
Swinney discusses preseason camp
Swinney: Great day in the Swinney household today because I had two sons starting high school football practice today and dad starts again with the Clemson Tigers. A lot going on with that and getting the season started and the process we have to go through to prepare for the football team. So you got all of that and then 13 guys who have signed to play for you. So that's a pretty good day. My first class we signed about 12 guys and that was it. We signed some great players in that class, but now you fast forward and we are signing 13 guys to Financial Aid Agreements before we've played a game. I credit that group back in 2009 who had the vision. I still give them a lot of credit. I credit these young men who have signed with us. We chose them and they chose us.
I'm not comfortable talking about guys who haven't graduated high school, but it's still very exciting. First off these guys are great students. They've prepared and done what they needed to do academically. They will graduate early. They know what they want to do so it speaks to the focus they have. These guys we signed today it is a very special group. We signed four offensive linemen - and that was a big focus for us and a critical need for our team- especially moving forward. To know we have four outstanding offensive line prospects in January is tremendous. We are getting some young talent here at the tackle position. They love to play. They are big strong and athletic and they are smart. I kid with them all the time because I have a picture of them and I told them during their senior year (at Clemson) I'm going to show it to 'em because I know what's coming.
We signed two wide receivers. Shadell Bell is a long wide receiver. He tracked me down at a ball game and he told me coach he wanted to be a Clemson Tiger. Then we got a guy named Ray Ray McCloud. I don't know what to classify Ray Ray McCloud as... he's just a great football player. He's going to be very dynamic. We are going to do a lot of things with Ray Ray. He'll play a lot of wide out. He'll be in the return game. He has all the ability in the world for us.
Quarterback was a big need for us. We'll lose two seniors in Cole Stoudt and David Olson. So we addressed that with Tucker Israel from down in Orlando. He jumped out at us. Chad Morris was first to get on him. He's kind of in the Kyle Parker mode the way he spins the ball.
And then Kelly Bryant - from Wren. He's big. Great student. He's got a world of potential.
We signed Garrett Williams - most of you know his dad played at Florida State. In fact his dad snapped the ball on the old puntrooskie play so it's only fitting we get him here in Clemson as well. Glad to have the whole Williams family join us.
We signed two defensive players in Van Smith and Tanner Muse. Tanner can probably play baseball here too. I'm really excited about Kaleb Chalmers out of Greenwood. He's one of the best young corners I've seen come through our camp. To watch him up close he is put together, physically blessed.
Then Chad Smith is a guy a lot of people knew about but we knew about him and Brent Venables did a great job recruiting him and evaluating him. This is the guy we all are looking for. He's got size. He's athletic. He loves it. He's got a dynamic personality too. He stacked up very well at the Opening out in Oregon. He will be an excellent leader in this class.
It's a great day to be a Tiger to know you have a bunch of young men like this who are signing up to be a part of our program. And we get back on the grass today with the players and continue our journey that we started back in January.
Today we enter prime time with our program
Are you about done with recruiting? Is this class just about filled up?
Swinney: We are about done. Recruiting as you know is always changing. You never know. Sometimes guys will leave or get hurt. There's a lot of different factors. It's hard to ever say this is it. You have to have a plan. We had juniors leave who I didn't think would leave. We've got one or two spots left and call it a day. And happy to do it. I don't get buyer's remorse. You fill your needs and when you are done you are done. And you move on. Couple of years ago we thought we were done and then guys back out at the last minute. So that happens.
Can you talk about the videos that Clemson has put out there and how much more of a factor that is this offseason for you?
Swinney: It's just part of our program. We are always trying to get better and trying to improve. Always trying to recruit. Recruiting never stops. Part of what we do that never gets noticed is that we have a lot of fun. We do. We have a lot of fun. It shows a different side of a coach. Like Coach Brooks. He's a pretty stern looking guy, but he has a great sense of humor. So you use those things to reflect a different side of a coach. It's been fun.
Were you pleased to see DeShaun Watson at 204 pounds?
Swinney: Yes at 204. He came in here 183 or 184. Not just him, but I reall complemented the guys last night. Stanton Seckinger at 241 pounds - that's a commitment. He put on the right kind of weight. We had some guys I wasn't pleased with too, but overall it was good.
Are you fully confident Cole Stoudt will be your starter at Georgia?
Swinney: Yeah. All I can base things on is what I've seen to this point. If he goes up there and stinks it up the next two weeks - well we aren't going to reward a guy like that. You earn your job. If you are going to be the best, you can never be satisfied. We have a great dynamic at that position. One way or another we are going to get the job done. But yeah, I have complete confidence in Cole. All things being even, Cole is our guy. But that's why we practice and look at every single practice and every single rep. Right now, it's clear that Cole Stoudt is the starter.
Who do you think you can count on right now at wide receiver?
Swinney: I think - we all know Adam Humphries is a good a player that we have on this team. And has been. We know Charone Peake is going to be a great player for us. And Mike Williams is going to be a really good player for us. Hopper is a guy that could help us if he will continue to improve. He's a guy that is very capable. Then we have three talented freshmen plus one that just came in. Artavis Scott has really changed his body. Demarre Kitt and Ky Priester are good players. And then Trevion Thompson just got here and man he looks great at 190-something pounds.
How has this opening day changed since you took over back in 2009?
Swinney: We are had are opening day last night and I went back to my notes from 2009 - that was my first ever opening day as a head coach. It was August 3, 2009. I read what I had written down to the team. What I wrote was that I believe is going to be a great year. The first day of a great year. And the beginning of a special time in Clemson history. Reflecting back, it's awesome because we've really built a great program. We are winning at a high level and graduating players. Our guys try to do the right thing. We are putting guys in the NFL. We've had the eighth most players drafted since I took over. Certainly not perfect. My message to the team was that a lot of work has been done before you. I can't bring Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller back and Tajh Boyd back to play this year. So take advantage of it. Protect our culture.
How big would it be to have Charone Peake all season long?
Swinney: Huge. And he will be. He had a great summer. Just had a little tweak. Glad it happened when it happened. It's the same thing Martin Aiken had two weeks ago and Martin will be full speed out there today. You got to have a little luck along the way. And we need Charone Peake to have a special season.
How has Travis Blanks looked?
Swinney: Looks great. We may have a day or two when we really get into the grind. He weighed in at 210. Good to have ol' Travis back.
What are your expectations for Tyshon Dye?
Swinney: He's going to be in a green jersey today. So I'm anxious to see him. The doctors want him to do all of the drill work. That will be good for his confidence. He looks great. He looks really great. LeRoy Hill, who is one of our student coaches, and he's been a good resource because he tore his Achillies back in 2010 and he understands. He's a great resource.
With practice starting, how important is it get off to a fast start especially given what you face in September?
Swinney: It's always important. It's all big. Doesn't matter who you play. You want your guys to play well. That will never change. When you play a top team like Georgia or playing in a classic game there's definitely a focus- hey - we got to be ready at a really high level right out of the gate.
Do you run practices the same way as if you didn't play Georgia to open the season?
Swinney: Absolutely. We have a plan we believe in. We started doing a couple of years ago- we would do really competitive drills right out of the gate - right after flex - just to create the mentality there is no warm-up. We have to be ready to go day one.
You have known since the spring you will be without two offensive linemen for the Georgia game. How do you handle that - a starting lineup for Georgia and then a starting lineup after Georgia?
Swinney: Just get the best five ready. Whoever that is. Let's see who the best group is. We will mix and match the entire camp to challenge that group. We'll evaluate all throughout. If that means moving somebody
What about Adam Choice? Could he help you out there?
Swinney: We are going to see. I feel really good about the guys we have at that position. He's got a lot to learn. He's behind a lot of talent and experience. He's got to show he can grasp it. Show that he can function. Physically, there's no question. He's probably as pure a runner as we've signed here. Pure ability to run with the football - he's going to be a great player for us. He's one of those guys I can't wait to installation. We know he can run with the ball. We know he's fast. Can he handle protections? You never know until you start coaching them.
Are your expectations higher now with so many veterans on this team?
Swinney: There's no question. Our starting point is very different from where we were last year. 21 seniors, 16 juniors and 18 sophomores on scholarship. Lot of veterans. Absolutely, I expect it show in how we meet and practice and compete and condition. We ought to look like a veteran football team. We don't have a big need for a bunch of freshmen. They know what it takes to win. They know the price you have to pay. I would be very disappointed if we weren't able to hit the ground running. We'll be very aggressive for how we install.
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