Clemson Recruiting Tactic: No Transfers

Clemson Recruiting Tactic
WINSTON SALEM, NC - OCTOBER 06: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a touchdown with Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at BB&T Field on October 6, 2018 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 It is no secret that recruiting at Clemson has become a cornerstone of success under Dabo Swinney. He has brought in big names like Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Christian Wilkins recently. As Clemson has seen many players come in and out of their doors, people are wanting to know how Clemson is able to keep up. Other programs are heavily involved in the transfer portal, with its newfound popularity. Swinney’s program at Clemson tends to use another recruiting tactic, no transfers.

Why Teams Utilize Transfer Recruiting

The transfer market has also grown over recent years. Players are transferring more over the past few years than ever before. Athletes now tend to graduate with a year left of eligibility. This tends to sweeten the pot for them and programs because these transfers do not have to sit out for a season. Coaches leaving is another circumstance that allows for students to have this immediate eligibility. 

Transfer market growth adds athletes to the recruiting pool that once only included high school athletes. More recently, programs have been going down to the Junior College level to fill out rosters with experienced talent. East Mississippi CC and Independence CC have brought that market to mainstream media through Last Chance U. Growing transfer rules and the market has allowed for stories like Joe Burrow at LSU and the past three quarterbacks at Oklahoma.

Why Clemson Doesn’t

For Swinney, part of success on the field comes from developing talent through the program. Other programs tend to look for seasoned talent to fill positional voids. At Clemson, there is a “next man up” mentality when it comes to filling voids left by star talent. Trevor Lawrence and Kelly Bryant have filled the large void left by Watson. This philosophy carried by Swinney’s staff has led to consistent production from all positions year after year.

With that, the transfer portal is always filled with talented athletes that have produced at a high level. It would be difficult to blame Swinney if he broke the previous rule. Clemson is also in a position that recruiting transfer players is not a necessary tactic for success. It is easy to look at LSU and Burrow or Justin Fields and Ohio State as notable transfers to lead programs to success. Clemson, on the other hand, has leaned on athletes recruited and raised in the system.  Even last spring when Clemson was losing depth at the cornerback position, they looked inwards and converted Derion Kendrick from his receiver position.

Transfer Recruiting’s Impact On Clemson

Swinney’s philosophy on the transfer portal has not kept him from having to deal with the transfer market. He has not accepted a transfer player in his program, but several high-level recruits have left Clemson in recent years. After last season, the Tigers lost four players to the transfer portal. Following the 2018 season, three athletes left Clemson for programs that would see competition against the Tigers. 

The transfer portal and growing transfer market have transformed the recruiting world. Many teams have used transfers to fill large voids in their lineups and to keep up with the competition. Clemson has a philosophy of not accepting transfer players into the program. Even with talent leaving every year, the development of new talent has allowed for continued success on the field.

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