Swinney's high-tech approach is paying off

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney hopes to celebrate the Tigers’ second top 10 recruiting class since 2002 when prospects announce their college choices and sign today.

CLEMSON -- The letters of intent expected to crawl from the West Zone fax machine today could give Clemson its second top 10 recruiting class since 2002.

While coaches remain dependent upon archaic fax machines to allay anxiety over whether they have landed their commitments on National Signing Day, it is cutting-edge technology helping Clemson to an elite class despite a disappointing season. The class could improve its ranking (No. 10 Rivals, No. 12 ESPN, No. 18 Scout) as the Tigers are in contention for five-star linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony, who will announce their college choices today. Clemson is also a dark-horse destination for the nation's No. 1 overall prospect, Jadeveon Clowney, who will unveil his decision Feb. 14.

While relationships and sales ability remain the bedrock of recruiting, the process is aided at Clemson by coaching offices equipped with the XOS video editing system and a staff primed for a spot on an Apple commercial, wielding both iPhones and iPads.

When coach Dabo Swinney shed the interim label following the 2008 season, he placed a priority upon revamping and reorganizing recruiting.

"When we came together in January of '09, what we spent the majority of our time on was our recruiting process," Swinney told The Post and Courier earlier this year. "We put hours and hours into developing our system. Evaluation, scouting, the film process and so on."

Part of the change dealt with updating technology, allowing for greater efficiency in the recruiting process, said Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott.

"We are very organized," Scott said. "A lot of that has to do with technology. We're no longer carrying around DVDs or VCR tapes back to the house in big crates. We have it all networked. Coaches can do (video) evaluations while they are on a plane going to see a young man or show a recruit from an iPad.

"He (Swinney) makes recruiting a priority."

Thanks to intelligent mobile devices and central video data- bases now in place at many power-conference schools like Clemson, Swinney could have reviewed film on dozens of future or current prospects while making flights last week for final in-home visits. Once he entered a recruit's home, he could show them renderings of a completed West Zone or plans for an indoor practice facility on his iPad.

The technology and organization is also important toward being first.

If a program is the first to offer a recruit, the school typically has a better chance at earning a commitment.

"They remember that," Scott said.

Joe Craig and Kalon Davis are two examples from last year's class of prospects first offered by Clemson. Scott said Craig was offered after the staff watched just a handful of video clips.

By being better organized thanks to in part new technology, and new support staff, Clemson can review more tape of more prospects allowing the Tigers a better chance of finding an undervalued prospect to offer first.

"It's easy to offer a prospect who already has 10 or 12 ACC or SEC offers," Scott said. "We've done a good job of evaluating everything in our office from when the video first arrives to being one of the first schools to offer.

"You have to believe in your evaluation process, you have to have it organized, you have to have everyone on the same page … When looking at ninth- and 10th-graders, we are not afraid to put our name on the line."

If things go according to plan today, Clemson will have its sixth consensus top 25 class since 2002, second only to Florida State in the ACC.

"The quickest way to improve your football team is through recruiting," Scott said. "Do it the right way and you will provide dividends in the future."

And doing it the right way for many programs means residing on the cutting edge.

Check out the Clemson blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks and follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter (@travis_sawchik).