Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney knew he was going to have an outstanding signing class in the first early signing period for college football on Wednesday. Among the 12 players who had verbally committed to the Tigers, two were among the top three prospects in the country.
By the time the day was done though, Clemson had added three more players to the class - two of them top 10 prospects as well.
"Christmas was supposed to come Monday, but it came a little early today," Swinney said.
Clemson already had quarterback Trevor Lawrence, seen by many as the No. 1 player in the country, and defensive end Xavier Thomas, seen as perhaps the top defensive player in the country, locked up along with 10 others early on Wednesday. Later in the day, the Tigers added defensive end K.J. Henry and offensive tackle Jackson Carman, both top 10 prospects, along with running back Lyn-J Dixon.
Henry, who is from Clemmons, N.C., chose the Tigers over South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Alabama. He gained some notoriety in the last week when he said he might go to a school if his father, who is an assistant at Charlotte, would get a job on the coaching staff.
Carman, who is from Fairfield, Ohio, chose Clemson over Ohio State and Southern California.
Clemson, which is trying to defend its national championship by playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in a national semifinal game on Jan. 1, was thought by some to have to be in a rebuilding mode after losing many key performers from last year's team. Swinney referenced that when talking about his new class.
"It's very important in a rebuilding year that we go and sign good players," Swinney said.
Along with Thomas, who played IMG Academy in Florida but is from Florence, six other players are from South Carolina. They are defensive tackle Josh Belk of Lewisville High School, tight end Braden Galloway of Seneca High, wide receiver Derion Kendrick and placekicker BT Potter of South Pointe High, offensive lineman Jordan McFadden of Dorman High and linebacker Jake Venables, the son of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, of Daniel High.
Swinney said he was happy with the first early signing period.
"This is something I've pushed for for years," he said. "This is for guys that have been ready and are ready to move on."