Posted by Chip Patterson
At the end of the 2010 season, Clemson fans were not too happy with the 6-7 record that finished in a loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Tigers dropped 4 of their last 6 games, and thanks to a pair of low-scoring losses to Boston College and Florida State , played themselves out of a wide-open Atlantic Division race.
Those frustrated fans do not feel the same way on Wednesday.
Dabo Swinney has moved from the hot seat to the headlines in the last two months, piecing together a recruiting class that now ranks among the best in the nation. Commitments from Stephone Anthony (LB, No. 5 overall prospect) and Tony Steward (LB, No. 7 overall prospect) headline what could go down as a historic day for Swinney's career as a head coach.
Swinney carried the reputation as an excellent recruiter while serving as an assistant under Tommy Bowden. But Wednesday's commitments completed a class that may even surpass the expectations of a hungry Clemson fan base.
When the heat came down on the head coach at the end of the season, Swinney calmly replied that he would evaluate every aspect of the team before taking action. The first thing he did was make major changes to the coaching staff, bringing some fresh faces to help re-energize the program. With new assistants in place, Swinney hit the recruiting trail with plans to lock down the best of the best (check), as well as sway any players that may be wavering on their verbal commitments with the competition.
Spencer Region , the 345 pound offensive guard from Cullman, AL, had a widespread recruitment that saw him entertain several big-name programs, reportedly narrowing his list to LSU and Wisconsin in December. But on National Signing Day, Region announced his intentions to play for the Tigers.
A similar situation occurred with defensive end Roderick Byers . Byers verbally committed to Oregon less than two weeks ago. Byers has good size and an impressive wingspan that helps him reel in opponents in pursuit. With ACC Defensive Player of the Year Da'Quan Bowers departing for the NFL, Swinney was able to snatch a player of similar size right out from under the nose of Chip Kelly.
Clemson came into National Signing Day on everyone's radar. They have a great crop of wide receivers highlighted by standouts Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins . Mike Bellamy (RB) and Eric MacLain (TE) also rank among the best in the nation at their position. But after landing two of the nation's top ten recruits and pulling off two big prospect surprises, Dabo Swinney's recruiting class is not just on the radar - it is as high as No. 5 in the nation .
Now, the biggest challenge for Swinney will be turning this recruiting class into results on the field.
More Recruiting Coverage can be found here at CBSSports.com