CLEMSON — The Clemson football team has put together back-to-back seasons with at least 10 victories for the first time in more than 20 years.
The Tigers are coming off an impressive bowl victory against a national championship-caliber opponent in LSU. Clemson would seem to be at its highest point since the Danny Ford era.
But with less than two weeks until signing day, Clemson is on track to sign its lowest-rated signing class since 2009, a class that was eroded by the coaching regime change from Tommy Bowden to Dabo Swinney.
Clemson’s 2013 signing class currently is not ranked in Rivals.com or Scout.com’s top 25. The Tigers ranked in the top 20 of both rankings in each of the last three years. Rivals ranked Clemson No. 19 in 2010, No, 8 in 2011 and No 14 in 2012. Scout.com rated the Tigers 23rd in 2010, 14th in 2011 and 17th last season.
Clemson’s 2013 class is ranked 24th by 247Sports.com. ESPN is the outlier, ranking Clemson’s class 12th overall.
Clemson has fallen in the rankings after losing commitments from the class’s No. 1 prospect in defensive end in Robert Nkemdiche, Nkemdiche’s high school teammate David Kamara, four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel, and four-star receiver Demarcus Robinson.
Clemson has 16 commitments for its 2013 class as signing day approaches. Swinney said his target number is to sign 21-24 players. Swinney noted Clemson has only 10 seniors and has some room to maneuver due to attrition and placing some walk-ons on scholarship in 2012.
“But we are not going to sign guys just to sign guys,” Swinney said.
Swinney still has the time and the targets to significantly improve the 2013 class.
The Clemson coach has proven to be an adept closer before, and Clemson is courting five-star defensive end Carl Lawson and five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who officially visited Clemson earlier this month. Both are expected to announce their college choices on Feb. 6.
Does Swinney have another signing day surprise waiting?
In 2009, Swinney signed a quarterback named Tajh Boyd late in the signing period, beating out Oregon and Ohio State. Boyd has become one of the best QBs in program history.
In 2011, Swinney received signatures from five-star linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony on signing day to move the class into the top 10 of ESPN and Rivals.com’s rankings.