CLEMSON - They're back at practice now, but when Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer were in Miami a week ago for an introductory Orange Bowl press conference, they had a few days to hit the recruiting trail in one of the country's most talent-rich states.
2014 Discover Orange Bowl
Who: No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
When: Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m.
Records: Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC); Ohio State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Last year's result: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 10
"We recruit Florida like it's an in-state area for us," Swinney said. "So many great players from the state of Florida that have played at Clemson, and currently play at Clemson. It's a great opportunity for us to continue to build our brand here.
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"Unfortunately, we have to recruit against Ohio State, over just about everybody. They do a great job. So it's great for both of us."
There are three Miami-area products on Clemson's roster, including All-American receiver Sammy Watkins, who's expected to play his last game for the Tigers before entering the NFL Draft just an hour and a half away from his native Fort Myers.
In all, there are eight Floridians on the Clemson roster, and four for Ohio State including top rusher Carlos Hyde and leading tackler Ryan Shazier.
Top praise for Boyd
Meyer was quite deferential last week in speaking about Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who's one win away from tying Rodney Williams as the program's all-time wins leader.
"When Dabo hired Coach (Chad) Morris, I was actually working for ESPN, and I saw incredible transition of a good player to a great player," Meyer said. "His ability to run the ball is obvious, and he's a dynamic thrower. His surrounding cast might be the best in America. Tremendous talent."
Swinney also got to brag on his pupil, in comparing Boyd to his Orange Bowl counterpart, Braxton Miller.
"He gets it. I'm really proud of the man he's turned into. It's been fun to watch him transform," Swinney said. "And just like I've said about Braxton, he's a great winner."
"We started together, and he's been a part of all the bricks and mortar in building our brand back," Swinney said of Boyd.
Depth chart updates
On Clemson's latest depth chart Wednesday, sophomore Joe Gore has replaced Gifford Timothy as the backup left tackle behind senior Brandon Thomas. Gifford's career is over due to knee problems.
Starting right tackle Isaiah Battle is expected to be penciled in as Thomas' successor in the spring. Gore and freshman Shaq Anthony will be the top competitors at right tackle.
Left guard David Beasley is still starting over Kalon Davis, while D.J. Howard remains the top reserve tailback in front of Zac Brooks, still recovering from a shoulder injury.
Rally the troops
To help distribute its 17,500 allotted tickets for the Orange Bowl, Clemson University is offering fans a chance to pay for military personnel to attend the Tigers' Jan. 3 game against Ohio State in Miami.
Tickets start at $50, and Clemson officials will handle the donation to active-duty soldiers and veterans. Fans can take advantage online at ClemsonTigers.com or by calling 1-800-CLEMSON.
Clemson released its official bowl fact sheet Wednesday, dictating five straight days (Dec. 29 through Jan. 2) of players and coaches meeting with reporters leading up to the Orange Bowl.
The team flies into Miami International Airport Sunday afternoon, followed by a press conference. Clemson's official hotel is Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort.
The Tigers work out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Barry University, with post-practice interviews each day. Then on Thursday, head coaches Swinney and Meyer will have an 8 a.m. press conference to give the final word before teams take the field Friday evening at Sun Life Stadium.
Watkins, Lawson honored
By garnering a first-team All-American spot via the American Football Coaches Association Wednesday, junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins became Clemson's first player to grab a first-team All-America spot by at least one organization in three consecutive years.
Meanwhile, first-year defensive end Shaq Lawson picked up his first national accolade Wednesday, named a second-team freshman All-American by College Football News and third-team by Athlon Sports. In spare playing time behind Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford, Lawson compiled nine tackles for loss and nine quarterback pressures.
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