Tonight, I was lucky enough to attend an event where Clemson's Director of Recruiting, Thad Turnipseed, spoke to the Colorado Clemson Club. Thad is a great speaker and was very open about the recruiting process, recent Clemson news & events, the goals of the program and what we should look forward to in the near future. Below is a list of information & impressions that I got from the event.
1. Thad is all in. I know that's probably not news to anyone, but it was great to hear him explain what he believes makes Clemson different. He was fortunate enough to work with Nick Saban for several years and he never had any thought of going to Clemson but was friends with Dabo and, after some convincing, agreed to visit the campus. He got to campus at 7AM and was waiting outside of the training facility when out walks "Hot Rod" Roderick McDowell himself. Rather than walking by Thad, he asks if he can help him with anything, and Thad explains he's waiting for Dabo. So McDowell brings him into the facility and starts a conversation with him and introduces him to some of the guys getting their early morning workout in. Coach Turnipseed took this moment to mention that to McDowell, he's just some guy waiting outside the training facility, and that during his 11 years as a high ranking official with Alabama, maybe 10 of the players took the time to know his name. That was the point he realized Clemson was different. It was very cool to hear this story and filled me with a sense of pride in our program & school.
2. When talking about recruiting strategy as a whole, Coach Turnipseed mentioned there is a very, very strenuous vetting process for potential players. They check to see if they've ever had any trouble with the law, bad reputation with the locals--they even scour social media for "questionable behavior/posts." They're dedicated to not only getting good players, but good people to Clemson. He mentioned that if you see a highly-touted guy on Rivals, 247, etc., and it seems like Clemson should be going after him but isn't, then there's a good chance that guy didn't pass their vetting process. Once the staff has found "their guys," they go after them hard. Let's say they have a list of 10 guys for 2 slots - it doesn't matter if they rank a guy #1 and another guy #10, if #10 commits to Clemson and they don't have any more room for #1, that's just how it goes. They're not going to pull a scholarship in order to get the more highly touted guy on the team. This may be true, but something tells me if someone like Rashan Gary wants to commit, we'll find room for him somehow haha.
3. Not really news, but 2017 is going to be a helluva class.
4. Speaking of getting the "right guys," Deon Cain is a great guy, and someone who Clemson really wants to have around not only due to his skill, but due to his character. Yea, he's made some mistakes, but that's part of the growing pains for some of these players. Sometimes there are speed bumps and if we're going to be a family, then we need to allow guys to mess up from time to time. Coach Turnipseed said there have been people on the team who weren't exactly great guys, but Deon certainly is not one of them. He couldn't stress enough how highly he thought of Deon. He simply needs to get himself together a bit, and if he does so, he'll be with the team for as long he wants.
5. Dexter Lawrence is scary, scary good, and K'Von Wallace may be the best athlete in the class even though he was only ranked a 3-star.
6. The early enrollees are getting after it, big time. Rahshaun Smith & Tre Lamar are already best friends, and he saw them & Dex randomly doing drills on their own out behind the practice fields the other day. He said he turned to another coach and said "that's what's going to win us a championship." I specifically asked him if he expected either of them to play much this year since traditionally, linebackers don't see a whole lot of action until their 2nd or 3rd year. He responded that both of them were ready and both of them will play a lot. Maybe it was the recruiting salesman coming out in him, but he made it sound like more of a testament to Shaq's & Tre's skill levels than it was a criticism of our lack of depth at LB.
7. Not really a note about our program, but one of the guys at the event asked how we, as fans, could get in touch with coaches about potential recruits. He had previously emailed the coaches about what was at that point an unknown star at his local high school that he believed Clemson needed to check out, but he never heard back from the coaching staff. Under normal circumstances, this would fall under the "hey Tom, who gives a shit about the fan pumping the local guy?"...but the kid he emailed Clemson about was a young man named Christian McCaffrey. Darn.
8. Last, and saddest, what QT said previously about Rashan Gary was 100% accurate. I won't get into details, but if Rashan pulls out a Clemson hat for his commitment, it sounds like both he and his mother would have had huge smiles on their faces. Double ouchie.
That's all I've got! We get a lot of great information from the guys on this site, but it was really cool to hear some of this stuff directly from the horse's mouth! August can't get here fast enough....