Clemson Football Recruiting: Dabo Swinney college football’s quarterback whisperer?

Nov 12, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is greeted by head coach Dabo Swinney prior to the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is greeted by head coach Dabo Swinney prior to the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

In the world of football, you are only as good as your quarterback. Luckily for the Clemson football program, Dabo Swinney knows how to maximize his quarterback’s potential. Swinney has quietly been one of the best quarterback whisperers in the country since taking over at Clemson in 2008.

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It’s no coincidence that Clemson wins the National Championship behind the arm and legs of the best quarterback in program history, Deshaun Watson. While Watson may seem like an anomaly at Clemson, Dabo Swinney has been grooming successful quarterback’s from day one in Death Valley.

In October of 2008, Swinney became interim head coach after the resignation of Tommy Bowden. Despite taking over in the middle of the season, Swinney was able to guide the Tigers to a 4-2 record finishing the year 7-6. The starting quarterback at the time was senior, Cullen Harper. During the six game stretch with Swinney as head coach, Harper’s quarterback rating dropped under 100.0 just once.

Swinney’s success with quarterback’s didn’t end there. The following season, Swinney guided the Tigers and freshman quarterback, Kyle Parker to a 9-5 overall record. During that season, Parker threw for 2,526 yards and 20 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a true freshman.

While Parker was having success on the field, Swinney was busy finding the signal caller that would bring Clemson to the forefront of college football. His name was Tajh Boyd.

National Prominence

Clemson’s resurgence as a program began with the signing of the 6-foot-1, 220 pound Boyd. Coming to Clemson by way of Hampton, Virginia, Boyd led Phoebus high school to a 43-2 overall record as a starter.

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Those winning ways would continue at Clemson.

After being relegated to mop up duty as a freshman, Boy burst onto the scene during his sophomore year, throwing for 3,838 yards and 33 touchdowns. The talented sophomore led the Tigers to a 10-4 record during that 2011 season, including wins over three ranked opponents.

Over the next two seasons, Boyd would amass 7,747 yards through the air and 70 touchdowns. All the while, leading Clemson to a 22-4 record during that span of time, including wins over #8 LSU in 2012 and #7 Ohio State in 2013.

There is no doubt that Tajh Boyd is talented, however, it took the puppet master that is Dabo Swinney to orchestrate Clemson’s rise to prominence. Recruiting a quarterback like Boyd was all apart of Swinney’s master plan for the Tigers offense. While recruiting Boyd, Swinney was also recruiting a new offensive coordinator by the name of Chad Morris.

Morris’ up tempo offense paired with Boyd’s athleticism and quick decision making were a match made in heaven.

Elite Program

The Tigers rise to elite status, coincided with the arrival of Deshaun Watson. Before we get into Watson’s illustrious career, let’s take a look at his recruitment.

Tigers offensive coordinator, Chad Morris took the lead on Watson’s recruitment. The two of them became very close, eventually leading to Watson’s commitment during his sophomore year of high school. Unfortunately, Morris wound up leaving Clemson for the head coaching position at SMU the winter before Watson was set to enroll at Clemson.

That’s where Swinney comes in. He had to keep Watson solid to Clemson despite losing his main contact with the Gainesville native. Not surprisingly, Swinney was able to convince Watson to stay committed to Clemson.

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During Watson’s freshman season, the quarterback position was a balancing act for Dabo Swinney. While Watson was certainly talented, Swinney didn’t want to rush him on the field and he had an experienced veteran in Cole Stoudt.

Both Watson and Stoudt started at times during the season, leading the Tigers to a 10-3 record. The two of them combined for 3,358 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year.

Over the next two years, Watson would throw for 8,697 yards and 76 touchdowns, while leading Clemson to a combined record of 28-2. Oh and let’s not forget two National Championship appearances and one National Championship victory.

Future success?

Clemson recently lost the best quarterback to ever suit up in Orange and White, however, Swinney has more talented gunslingers coming down the pike.

Early enrollee, Hunter Johnson was the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class and he has all the makings of another All-ACC caliber quarterback.

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The Tigers also hold a commitment from Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 overall player in the country in the 2018 recruiting class. Lawrence is widely regarded as the best high school quarterback prospect in recent memory.

As long as Swinney is around, Clemson will continue to recruit and develop elite quarterbacks.

Next: 3 Thoughts on Clemson's summer depth chart

Be sure to stay tuned to Rubbing The Rock for more news regarding Dabo Swinney and the Clemson football program.