Obviously we got wonderful news this morning when Jadeveon Clowney ... (announced) he's coming with the Gamecocks. We've been recruiting him for a while. Ellis Johnson did a super job recruiting him the last three years. He was on the team with Stephon Gilmore that won the state championship years ago. We've known about him and got him around as often as we could. Brad Lawing was heavily involved and Lorenzo Ward was heavily involved. I want to thank our fans at the basketball game when they started chanting "We want Clowney." That seems to work. Last year when we had Marcus Lattimore they chanted, (and he signed with us). We're excited about him and our fans will love this young man. He's been "yes sir, no sir" with me. The way he loves to play the game with a passion, our fans will enjoy watching him play. This is a big day for us. Signing players like Jadeveon ups our expectations. That's what we want to do. We want to rise around here and achieve the SEC Championship in years to come. I think it's the first time South Carolina has signed the number one recruit. This is a big day for us. Our players are excited. I said (to them), "You did a good job helping recruit," to Stephon Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman and a bunch of our guys. We're looking forward to Jadeveon being with us next year. Academically he's better off than several of our signees at this time. We anticipate that he'll make it. He's in pretty good shape.
On the announcement coming 12 days after "Signing Day"
We knew that was going to happen. We all knew. Jadeveon said way back that he wanted to announce on Valentine's Day, his birthday. He just decided to do it that way. It wasn't a big deal that much. We saved a scholarship for him as other big schools. We just kept recruiting him until the fax came in.
On if Jadeveon Clowney will live up to the "hype"
Time will tell. Certainly he'll have an opportunity to come in an earn a starting position just like Marcus Lattimore did last year. He'll have that opportunity. I think now that recruiting is over he'll get back to playing on his basketball team, working on his grades and getting all that work hopefully behind him before he arrives. Coach Lorenzo Ward did a super job. He got to know Jadeveon better than any of us. He actually could get Jadeveon to call him occasionally.
On Jadeveon's announcement
I like the way he did the announcement. He just picked up the hat, put it right on and said I'm going to South Carolina. It was neat the way he got it over quickly there.
On keeping the top player in state
That's good for us and the University of South Carolina. Our process of trying to be a top team in the conference is taking some steps in the right direction we believe. Winning the (SEC) East and getting a player like Jadeveon who could have gone to Alabama, Florida, Ohio Sate - any of the glamour schools - but he chose to come to us. He was there the day we beat Alabama. I remember telling him we can win big here and he believes we can win big here. That was something important to him. Hopefully that process is heading in the right direction as we go here.
On signing the nation's top ranked player
He's the only one I've ever signed that I know of. I don't know if they had those rankings back in the 90's. We obviously signed a lot of good players at Florida in the 90's. Who knows? Time will tell. I did read an article about a month ago that some guy was saying that not only is Jadeveon the number one recruit this year, he might be the number one recruit the last 15 years. That was scary to know we have the chance to sign a recruit of that caliber. We have to be sure to coach him up and keep his head straight.
On Shane Beamer resigning today to take a job at Virginia Tech
Shane will go work for his dad (Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer). It's a wonderful move for Shane to work with his dad. The opportunity to coach with him never came up (before), and (now) it came up. We wish Shane well. He did a super job recruiting not only his guys this year but coordinating all the recruiting. He's been an excellent coach here and coaching with his dad is something u should do. Those guys know how to win at Virginia Tech.
On what kind of coach will be looked at to fill Shane Beamer's position
We have a little time to look into that. I think we're looking for the best special teams guy with the best track record we can find. That's what I'm looking for right there. We'll probably give the recruiting coordinator title to one of our current coaches who's been here a while and knows the state. I tell you (Director of High School Relations) Robbie Liles did an excellent job the whole recruiting process. I think 33 of our 37 official visits signed with us. Mr. Hyman and the Board of Trustees were happy that we were very efficient this year in recruiting. I remember our days at Florida we'd bring in 50 guys and hoped to sign 20. They just visited around for the fun of it those days, but young men are committing earlier now.
On Damiere Byrd, who signed after Signing Day as well Damiere Byrd is one of the fastest players in the nation. He played in that all-star game in Charleston and caught two long passes for touchdowns and was the most valuable player for his team. He's a national track kid. The reason we didn't get his fax (on Signing Day) is he was flying to Osaka, Japan to run the 60-yard dash. That's a long way to go to run 60 yards. He only ran one race too. He came in second and had a fast time. He's one of the fastest kids coming out. We'll see how it works out with him.
I was the one that had the pleasure of recruiting (Jadeveon Clowney). It was a three-year relationship. I don't think any one person recruited a player. He had a great relationship with Coach Brad Lawing. Lorenzo Ward really employed a great communication with the kid. It's a process like all of them. You have to have a great team. The family was a lot of fun to get to know. Maybe because of my age but I think the one I hit it off the most with was the grandfather. He's the pillar of the family. It was a lot of fun and a pleasure to talk to him. The whole family is a neat family and a lot of close-knit relatives cared about his decision, and I think that had a huge effect on him.
On the first time he saw Jadeveon Clowney
The first time I saw him I was at spring practice when Stephon Gilmore was a rising senior. Jadeveon was a rising sophomore (so) he had been in the ninth grade. Gerald Dixon too I could tell had a chance to be a major college player. Jadeveon even in spring practice jumped out at you. I didn't know how big he'd get. He's got a huge frame. Those kind of players are that good. They stand out even at that age.
On Jadeveon Clowney
When he called me after he signed, he didn't say "Were you watching or did you see it or I told you" ... He told me, "Coach I'm ready." That's where his heart is right now.
Physically he's ready. I'm sure in upper body strength there are a lot of things high school players are behind SEC players. But (with) his speed, athleticism, size and potential, he's already almost NFL caliber in physical abilities. There will be a learning curve.
We've got a lot of competition. Competition will make us better. Recruiting was the evaluation. That's the most important part but of course it's easy to evaluate Jadeveon. The second part is (practice).
Coach Ellis Johnson brought me in to start a relationship with Jadeveon. I went up with him on three different occasions. We hit it off real well. I noticed a lot of speculation back and forth, but I asked Jadeveon to do me a favor. We had a bond and I said I want you to call me every day and he did it. I felt like we had that relationship. We didn't talk a lot about football or recruiting. Just about life. I thank Coach Johnson for letting me in to build that relationship.
On if he knew Jadeveon would sign with South Carolina
You never know until you get the fax. He wasn't a South Carolina football player until you get the fax. You feel good about it but until you get the paper (you don't know).
On Jadeveon Clowney
We've got pretty good speed at that position right now. He adds to it and is an exceptional player. From day one he'll have the opportunity to have success. We'll get him involved from day one.