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Dabo Swinney sticking to what’s worked for Clemson in past recruiting cycles

Caleb Browder, Contributor

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney smiles during his team’s game with Boston College in 2022. 

As the college football landscape continues to evolve, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t shying away from sticking true to his values in the recruiting process.

Swinney has admitted that change in the sport is inevitable, but that it won’t disrupt what has brought recruits to Clemson in the past. 

“The more chaotic it’s gotten, the more attractive we’ve become to the people who really value what we offer, and that is a true, holistic approach to developing as a man, not just a football player, and the long-term value of education,” Swinney said earlier this month. 

Even with the adoption of name, image and likeness (NIL) policies, Swinney believes NIL opportunities shouldn’t be a priority for those interested in Clemson. 

“It’s not anything that we lead with. In fact, it’s the last thing we talk about in our process,” Swinney said at ACC media day.

“I want guys to come to Clemson based on the right things. I don’t want them to come here for NIL. I want them to come because they believe in what we believe. They love me, they love Clemson, they love the players on our team, it’s based on relationships, and everything else is a cherry on top.”

Indeed, should a recruit ask what Clemson can provide them with NIL deals, Swinney openly admitted Clemson “won’t get them.”

While other programs reportedly have more NIL opportunities, Clemson’s 2023 class still boasts two five-star commits and is the No. 7 class in the nation, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. 

Swinney further ensures the attraction of compatible recruits through his views on the transfer portal, which Clemson rarely, if it all, brings in players from each year. 

“My transfer portal is right there in that locker room because if I’m constantly going out every year and adding guys from the transfer portal, I’m telling all those guys in that locker room that I don’t believe in them, that I don’t think they can play,” he told ESPN’s Chris Low.

Of all power 65 teams in the NCAA, Clemson was one of four that started and ended the spring with the same players, according to Swinney. For the Tigers, that includes 109 players across all positions.

The future landscape of college football is impossible to predict, but despite those changes, Swinney remains committed to what has worked for the program. 

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