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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney raised eyebrows in recruiting circles on Signing Day of 2016 when he announced little known safety Nolan Turner of Vestavia Hills, Ala., as part of the class.

While it fell short of Clemson football's recent standard, there were terrific moments in 2021, plays that saved the Tigers from a lesser fate, and triumphs that offer hope for a return to glory in coming seasons. Here is our list of the 10 biggest plays from this past season. 

CLEMSON — As Clemson’s postgame press conference at the Cheez-It Bowl came to a close, the subject inevitably turned to what’s next. But the reporter’s question about the offseason incorporated the words “what needs to be fixed,” which caused Dabo Swinney to fixate for a second.

There were early-season disappointments. There were close calls. But through the ups and downs of Clemson’s 2021 football season, the program arrived on familiar ground. A 10-win season, Clemson's 11th in a row.

Gene Sapakoff column: Highlights in a remarkable year in the Palmetto State ranged from Phil Mickelson's unlikely PGA Championship run and a once-in-a-century Charleston RiverDogs championship to a short-tenured Presbyterian coach who didn't believe in punting

Brent Venables is now the head coach at Oklahoma. Who could take his place as defensive coordinator at Clemson? It's hard to know, but Dabo Swinney could compile quite a list of coordinators to call — if he wants to.


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