Locker Room: Swinney wants 10-year record

     Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney told a room full of recruits last weekend that he wanted his program to establish a 10-year record for success in college football. The Tigers have already played in five consecutive final four playoffs and two of those turned into national championships.
    And while that goal might sound a bit ambitious, don’t bet against Clemson. While most schools across the country are still trying to mop up their 2020 recruiting classes that will be finalized on February 5th signing day, Swinney and his program has long left behind next season’s recruiting class and moved into 2021. It’s going to be hard for the rest of the ACC to keep pace, hard for most people in the country for that matter.
  Insurance Center of Dublin 10 4 copy Clemson got commitments from four more players last weekend, three of them 4-stars, and 5-star defensive end Korey Foreman, the number one rated high school player in the country. The Tigers signed two of the top three defensive ends in the nation in the 2020 class. The Tiger defensive front is about to become dominant again.
    Clemson has moved to the top already with nine commitments for 2021, the other eight are all 4-stars. Ohio State is second also with nine commitments, one a five, and seven 4-stars. Number three is Notre Dame with seven 4-stars, then Texas at four and Florida at five. And this is before programs like Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma and a few others get in the mix, and they most certainly will.
      As far as the ACC is concerned, Miami has the next rated class at number nine that features three 4-stars, Carolina is rated 22, Pitt 23, and Virginia Tech is 25th, but that’s a much better start than the last recruiting class which finished last in the conference, and down at the bottom of all Power Five Conferences.
      The Hokies have two 3-star commitments, and a 4-star in quarterback Dematrius Davis out of Houston, Texas. Davis is a highly regarded dual threat player, and the task for Tech will be to hold onto his commitment when the pressure mounts from a host of Texas schools. UVa and West Virginia are tied at 33 presently, both with two 3-stars. The Wahoos have a quarterback commitment from Jay Woolfolk out of Benedictine in Richmond. WVU’s top guy so far is a tight end, Victor Wikstrom from Stockholm, Sweden.
     The world of recruiting has really heated up in recent years. Alabama was in total control from 2008-2017 and during that span finished with the top rated class in all but one year, and that year was a 5th place finish, but now, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and a few others have become much more aggressive.
      It is very consistent that the best coaches seem to coach the best players. Strong recruiting is an absolute must, and millions of dollars are being invested in the effort. It’s very early in the process. The 2020 class is still a few days from being complete, but recruiting never stops, and already it’s obvious that little will change pertaining to who is and who ain’t. When you haven’t put the lid on your last class, and somebody like Clemson already has locked up nine of the best players in the country for the next class, that speaks for itself.
    And it also helps if you have the lowest rated schedule in the country. Clemson took some heat for last season’s schedule, and next year is considered the easiest in the country. Clemson’s schedule would not be considered soft for other ACC schools,  but for the talent level at Clemson it is. The toughest games are a trip to Notre Dame, a division game vs. a rebuilding Florida State, and the annual match with South Carolina.
Where’s Everybody Going?:
    It appears that Virginia Tech may lead the nation again in transfers. Since the season ended 14 players have announced they are leaving. Add to that Dalton Keene and Deshawn McClease who are entering the NFL Draft early. Expect both to get a shot as free agents. But 16 players will not return to the Hokies.
    That said, and it certainly isn’t a positive for the program, it should not be considered a panic either. Last year the “transfer portal” got heavy media coverage because it was new and heavily used for the first time. I was guilty of wondering what in the world is going on too. It seemed like a mass exodus in Blacksburg.
    First of all some of the players that enter the portal might decide to stay, and that happened at Tech last year. Although I wonder about that. When a player tries to leave do you welcome him back? Not sure I would unless I really, really needed him, but it wouldn’t be a happy sort of thing. Also, and this was evident with transfers from all schools across the country, a large percentage of the “transfer portal” players ended up playing at a lower level, or a lesser program. What that tells you is simple. A lot of the transfer situation consists of players just trying to find a place where they can play. Lots of them are leaving a program where they could not get on the field.
    So Hokie fans should not panic, but it’s not a good sign either. Ask yourself this. If so many players recruited at Va. Tech leave after one or two years or whenever because they can’t get playing time, just how good was the player evaluation when he was offered a scholarship in the first place? But some of it a coach can’t do anything about. It’s just the times. You can bet a buck that when a program’s quarterback room gets full, but there is a definite number one, likely the number two is going to leave. Number three might leave too. Just 10 years ago did you ever think you would see 81 college quarterbacks transfer in just one year. Say hello to today. And all of them are certainly not outstanding players. Fans need to understand often it’s an “I” thing. Most players love to play more than they love school, any school.
     And sometimes you benefit too. The Hokies obviously need help at running back even though it seems like they have a herd of them in the program already, but there are high hopes for Raheem Blackshear, a transfer from Rutgers, and Khalil Herbert, a transfer from Kansas. Expect both to see major immediate playing time next season.