The Clemson Tigers are expected to have one of the best if not the best offense in the country this coming season. The coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball is led by two young up and coming co-coordinators, Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott, who also happen to be great recruiters. In a much scrutinized move by head coach Dabo Swinney, the two were promoted after highly regarded OC Chad Morris left to take the head coaching job at SMU. Here is a rundown of the offensive coaching staff starting with the head coach.
Dabo Swinney (Head Coach) - For the most part, Swinney has delegated game planning/scheming/play-calling/technique coaching to his offensive coaching staff. Prior to getting the promotion to head coach after former head coach Tommy Bowden's departure, Swinney never had any coordinator/play calling experience. While he has proven to be a strong receivers coach throughout his career at Alabama and Clemson, Swinney's rise to head coach did not come as a result of his overall offensive coaching ability.
Swinney 's rise as a head coach, as well as the overall rise of the Clemson football program, has come mostly as a result of his recruiting and visionary abilities. Throughout his career as an assistant and head coach, Swinney has been known as an outstanding recruiter. In 2005 and 2007 he was named as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.com. In 2006, he was named as the #5 recruiter in the nation by Rivals.com. A few of the top players he personally recruited as an assistant include CJ Spiller, Jamie Harper, Antoine McClain, Malliciah Goodman, and DeAndre McDaniel. Spiller especially was a huge, if not program changing commitment Swinney secured for the program as he was able to go into Florida and take Spiller from Miami, Florida State, and Florida's backyard. As a head coach, he has put together a coaching staff of strong recruiters including Elliott, Scott, Brandon Streeter, Brent Venables, Dan Brooks, and Mike Reed to help make Clemson a recruiting power. Swinney had a vision for Clemson as a top football and recruiting power, playing a huge part in the construction of the West End Zone, Indoor Facility, and the new Football Operations Facility. With Swinney as head coach, Clemson has consistently put together strong recruiting classes year after year with top 10 recruiting classes in each of the past two years. His recruiting and visions for Clemson have made the Tigers an elite football program with more and more players getting drafted in the NFL in recent years.
To help offset his X's and O's deficiencies and also to his credit, Swinney has made some solid hires to help put together some strong offenses during his tenure at Clemson. Many of these hires also panned out to be solid recruiters as well.
Tony Elliott (Co-OC/RBs)
Serving as the play-calling co-offensive coordinator along with handling running back coach duties, Elliott has been an underrated yet very important part of the offensive coaching staff when it comes to recruiting and coaching. During his time as running back coach, Elliott has coached a number of solid running backs including Andre Ellington, Roderick McDowell, and Wayne Gallman. After Chad Morris departed for SMU, Elliott was promoted to co-offensive coordinator alongside Scott. Elliott handles the play-calling aspect of the dual offensive coordinator position. I personally was not a huge fan of Elliott's conservative play-calling at the beginning of last season but I was glad to see Elliott become a bit more aggressive as the season went along and we saw the offense evolve into what it was truly capable of doing thanks to the improvement in play-calling. I still want to see Elliott be more aggressive in play-calling, especially in the opening game at Auburn. However, I don't want to see him be too aggressive, which I thought was a flaw of former offensive coordinator Chad Morris (I like what Coach Morris did for the program but I thought he got a little too cute with play-calling at times).
Since being hired prior to the 2011 season, Elliott has proven to be a solid recruiter for Swinney and Co. He recruits in-state and in Georgia but his work in recruiting the Tampa/St. Pete area has been huge for the program. A few of Elliott's key recruits during his tenure at Clemson have been Mackensie Alexander, Mitch Hyatt, Deon Cain, Ray Ray McCloud, and Jayron Kearse.
Jeff Scott (Co-OC/WRs)
Serving as the co-offensive coordinator with Elliott along with his duties coaching receivers, Scott is a very important part of the offensive coaching staff. Along with being a strong receivers coach, Scott is also one of our best recruiters. After Chad Morris left to take the SMU head coaching job, Scott was elevated to co-offensive coordinator possibly in a move to prevent him from leaving to be Morris's offensive coordinator. After Swinney was named the permanent head coach in December of 2008, Swinney named Scott as his wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Clemson has become known as "WRU" thanks in large part to the number of quality NFL receivers Scott has helped develop during his tenure as wide receivers coach. Wide receivers drafted by NFL teams include Jacoby Ford who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Martavis Bryant who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, and Charone Peake who was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. Scott also coached future first round draft picks DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins who were drafted by the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Undrafted receivers Jaron Brown and Adam Humphries, who were also coached by Scott, went on to sign professional contracts with the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and both remain on their respective teams. The WRU label looks to carry some significant substance as long as Scott remains at Clemson as Artavis Scott and Mike Williams will likely get drafted relatively high next April while other elite talent including Deon Cain and Ray Ray McCloud remain in the wings to take over.
Before getting promoted to co-offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott was the recruiting coordinator. During his first year as recruiting coordinator, the Tigers put together a top 10 recruiting class. The Tigers remained a mainstay in the top 15 of recruiting rankings during Scott's tenure as recruiting coordinator including a top 5 finish during Scott's last year in the position. Scott has helped expand Clemson's recruiting footprint and has played a significant role in establishing a recruiting pipeline in Florida, where the Tigers have managed to sign elite players out of a state where it is relatively hard to get the best players to leave the state. He has recruited his fair share of elite players, but a few in particular include Sammy Watkins, Deon Cain, Artavis Scott, and Mike Williams.
Brandon Streeter (QBs)
Streeter was hired in December 2014 to take over Chad Morris's quarterback coaching duties. It's still a little early to evaluate his coaching abilities but so far it's been solid. Streeter has had the benefit of working with a superstar in Deshaun Watson, but his ability to develop Watson's eventual successors will truly show his coaching chops. Prior to being hired at Clemson, Streeter served as offensive coordinator at Richmond where he helped direct a number of high-powered offenses at the FCS level.
Streeter took over Scott's duties as recruiting coordinator after the latter was elevated to co-offensive coordinator. It's also still a little early to evaluate Streeter's recruiting abilities but the Tigers were able to sign a top 10 class during his first year as recruiting coordinator. The program values his abilities to recruit Virginia along with Georgia. So far, Streeter's most significant commit has been Hunter Johnson, which is huge for the program and life after Watson.
Robbie Caldwell (OL)
After former offensive line coach Brad Scott moved to a support staff role, Robbie Caldwell was brought in as his replacement. Caldwell is one of the more experienced coaches on staff as he has spent close to 40 years coaching offensive lines at Furman, NC State, UNC, Vanderbilt, and Clemson. Caldwell spent his final year at Vanderbilt as the interim head coach before becoming Clemson's OL coach. For the first few years of his Clemson tenure the offensive lines were relatively inconsistent but I think a lot of this had to do with the program's inefficiencies of recruiting offensive lineman. However, Caldwell crafted the best offensive line Clemson has had in a while where all five starters were selected to All-ACC teams. The future for the offensive line looks bright and has been regarded by many as having the potential to be one of the best lines in college football. I think the coaching staff placing a bigger emphasis on recruiting more talented offensive lineman now in contrast to years past has played a huge part in the dramatic improvement of our offensive lineman. Throughout his Clemson tenure, Caldwell has coached a number of standout offensive lineman including 2012 first-team All-American center Dalton Freeman, two time All-ACC selection left tackle Brandon Thomas who was also a third round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, and All-ACC guard Tyler Shatley. Although he was not drafted, Shatley signed a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 and has remained on their 53 man roster since.
While Caldwell is a highly respected offensive line coach and personable guy who is well respected by his players, he is not a great recruiter. Although Caldwell has managed to recruit a higher number of elite prospects recently. Caldwell brings recruiting ties to North Carolina and Tennessee from his days coaching NC State, UNC, and Vanderbilt. He also brings a number of in-state recruiting ties as he is a South Carolina native and Furman alum. A couple of highly regarded players recruited by Caldwell to Clemson include Dexter Lawrence, Mitch Hyatt, Jake Fruhmorgen, and Tyrone Crowder. Overall, Caldwell is a decent, but not great recruiter like other coaches on staff including Scott, Elliott, and Venables.
Danny Pearman (TEs/STs)
Probably the most scrutinized coach on the staff, Pearman brings a lot of coaching experience to the staff with relatively mixed results over his career. After Swinney landed the permanent gig he brought in Pearman to serve as his tight ends coach along with other duties including assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. Pearman has proven for the most part to be a solid tight ends coach. He has coached standouts such as Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen, Brandon Ford, and Jordan Leggett throughout his career. All four of those went on to become solid tight ends but overall the tight ends play during his tenure has been shaky at times. Leggett didn't really burst onto the scene until last season as a junior. The coaching staff had to rely on less solid options such as Stanton Seckinger and Sam Cooper during the previous two seasons. Seckinger never really got things going and Cooper was predominantly a blocking tight end. Pearman also serves as special teams coordinator for the Tigers. The special teams units at Clemson have been horrendous for the most part over the past few years and ultimately cost the Tigers a national championship. However, there have been a few brights spots over the past few years with the developments of kickers Chandler Catanzaro and Greg Huegel as well as the development of punter Bradley Pinion who decided to forego his senior year and enter the draft. It is extremely rare for punters to leave school early, but it worked out for Pinion as he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The criticisms of Pearman's special teams units are fair but the job of a special teams coordinator is really to oversee who is in charge of scheming the special teams units. Venables and Marion Hobby are in charge of the kickoff teams while Pearman handles the punting teams. Mike Reed is responsible for punt return teams while Dan Brooks is in charge of the field goal block teams and Caldwell oversees field goal teams. The punt return and kickoff teams were pretty bad this past season. I have very high hopes for the Tigers this coming season but we will not win a national championship unless our special teams improve a good bit.
While Pearman brings a lot of experience and recruiting ties based on his long career, he has been the poorest recruiter on the staff. He is responsible for recruiting his hometown of Charlotte. Charlotte should be a prime recruiting area for the Tigers but Pearman has failed to take advantage of that area for talent. Recruiting is definitely not his strong suit and while the Tigers have evolved into a recruiting power, he has been the weak link.