Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd always wanted to go to Ohio State. The Hampton, Va., native wore No. 10 because of Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith, and he believed his recruitment would end once Jim Tressel and Ohio State extended a scholarship offer in 2008.
“The dream was always Ohio State,” Boyd, now 30, said. “When I got the Ohio State offer, that was it.”
Boyd instead signed with Dabo Swinney and Clemson, becoming the lone five-star prospect in Swinney’s first recruiting class as the Tigers’ new head coach in 2009. Ultimately, it came down to how different Boyd found Swinney to be than anyone else who recruited him.
“He told me when I came in, he was like, ‘One, I might not be here. If we don’t win, I’m going to be fired. Two, I’m not going to lie to you and say that you’re going to be just like whoever. I don’t know what that looks like,’” Boyd recalled. ‘“I can’t guarantee that you’re going to start, but you’ll have an opportunity.’
“I think his genuineness within that is the reason people come here to begin with.”
Clemson players and prospects are inherently biased because they’ve signed with or committed to Swinney and the Tigers, but Boyd isn’t alone in his assessment that there’s something about the way Swinney recruits that’s fundamentally different from his competitors.
It’s not just the way Swinney talks to prospects or sells them on Clemson, though. In interviews with more than a dozen people, including recruits, parents, high school coaches and Swinney’s director of recruiting, it’s become clear that Swinney’s core principles about the best way to recruit have been different from the mainstream in college football for years.
As a wild month of recruiting in June wraps up, let’s take a look at some of those philosophies and what makes them different from Clemson’s peers.