CLEMSON - Five Februarys ago, on Dabo Swinney's first National Signing Day as head coach, Clemson signed a total of 12 players - "the Dandy Dozen", as they'd become to be known.
The Tigers officially locked down a baker's dozen, or 13, new commits on Friday; just not in the traditional sense.
"It's just a sign of how things have changed in recruiting," Swinney said Friday. "A lot of opportunities to go to a lot of different schools, but they chose to come to Clemson, and we chose them."
Thirteen high school seniors signed their financial aid agreements Friday, starting the process of possibly enrolling in spring courses at Clemson in January.
"I'm still really not comfortable talking about guys that are still getting ready to play high school," Swinney said, "but it is exciting."
Swinney said he's got "one or two spots left and we'll call it a day" to finalize this class of 2015. None of the 13 incoming freshmen are bound to Clemson like they will after signing NCAA national letters of intent.
"We're about done," Swinney said. "Recruiting is always changing. Things happen in football. Sometimes guys will leave, sometimes guys get hurt. There's a lot of different factors, so it's hard to ever say, 'this is it.' You have to have a plan."
For example, offensive tackles Patrick DeStefano and Gifford Timothy retired from football last fall, leaving the Tigers devoid of edge blockers.
Then quarterback Chad Kelly was dismissed from the program in mid-April, so when Cole Stoudt and David Olson depart next spring, only Deshaun Watson and Nick Schuessler will remain.
In response, the Tigers grabbed a pair of quarterbacks and four offensive linemen, bolstering the depth at two positions of need looking past the 2014 season.
"That obviously was a big focus for us, a critical need for our team moving forward," Swinney said. "To know we'll have four outstanding offensive line prospects arriving on campus in January is tremendous."
Clemson also signed two receivers, two defensive backs, two athletes and a linebacker.
Offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt, a 5-star prospect out of Suwanee, Ga., is the crown jewel of the class. Quarterback Kelly Bryant, offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen and athlete Ray-Ray McCloud III are other highlights.
Here is the list of 13 financial aid signees Friday, ranked in terms of their star ratings via Rivals.com:
OL Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga.)
WR Shadell Bell (Decatur, Ga.)
QB Kelly Bryant (Piedmont, S.C.)
OL Jake Fruhmorgen (Tampa, Fla.)
ATH Ray-Ray McCloud III (Tampa, Fla.)
LB Chad Smith (Sterling, Va.)
TE Garrett Williams (Orlando, Fla.)
OL Zach Giella (Augusta, Ga.)
OL Noah Green (Boiling Springs, S.C.)
DB Kaleb Chalmers (Greenwood, S.C.)
QB Tucker Israel (Orlando, Fla.)
DB Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C.)
ATH Van Smith (Charlotte, N.C.)
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