No longer with a regional emphasis, Clemson is a nation-wide force in recruiting

Photo: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

No longer with a regional emphasis, Clemson is a nation-wide force in recruiting

Football

No longer with a regional emphasis, Clemson is a nation-wide force in recruiting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Trevor Lawrence was already a national commodity when he visited Clemson after his freshman year in high school, with the expectation that a face-to-face meeting with Dabo Swinney would result in the latest addition to a rapidly growing pile of scholarship offers from programs across the Bowl Subdivision. He would leave disappointed.

It worked out in the end: Lawrence would land an offer as a sophomore, eventually sign with Clemson and put together a remarkable debut season as the Tigers marched to the national championship. At the time, however, Lawrence fell victim to a unique quirk for a program with Clemson’s level of prestige among prospective student-athletes — Swinney and the Tigers shy away from issuing immediate, no-questions-asked scholarships to the top recruits in any given year, even one with Lawrence’s obvious gifts.

“That’s my personal philosophy. I want our offers to mean something,” Swinney said. “I just like to have more information. I want to see guys grow and mature, drive a car, have a girlfriend, go the prom. Is it too much to ask to play two years of varsity football?”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney celebrates with the championship trophy after the Tigers beat Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff championship game. (Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports)

At a time when recruiting has reached a fever pitch, with a buzzing drumbeat of attention around top prospects throughout their high school careers, and as many programs extend offers earlier and earlier to hundreds of potential student-athletes across an individual recruiting class, Swinney’s program has opted for a largely different approach.

The Tigers’ relative pickiness hasn’t impacted the program’s growth into a powerhouse. Clemson for the first time in school history sits atop the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released on Thursday, one spot ahead of Alabama. The Crimson Tide had been ranked No. 1 in the preseason in each of the past three years.

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No longer with a regional emphasis, Clemson is a nation-wide force in recruiting

Clemson is a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.

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