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SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football

CLEMSON — National Signing Day 2019 came and went for the Clemson Tigers without much fanfare or excitement.

That was because the majority of the Tigers’ work was done in December’s early signing period. In fact Clemson added only two players to their 2019 class Wednesday, preferred walk-on Mason Trotter and three-star running back Michel Dukes.

However, head coach Dabo Swinney’s excitement over the 29 members of the 2019 class could not contained because he believes the class can help the Tigers climb back up the college football mountain for years to come.

“I don't have any doubt this group right here is going to be special," Swinney said. "Again, time will tell the true story. But I think when it's all said and done, this group right here is definitely going to continue to help us be the consistent program on and off the field that we want to be.”

Dukes, enters the Tigers’ program as a top 50 running back and the No. 13-ranked player in the state.

A dual-sport athlete, Dukes led First Baptist School (Charleston, S.C.) to an 11-2 record in his senior season. He amassed 2,030 yards on 188 carries and 29 rushing touchdowns and finished his career with 8,762 yards and 117 rushing touchdowns.

"We felt like we needed to add another running back to this class," Swinney said of Dukes. “Coach Elliott, I give him a lot of credit because this kid's been to camp since about the eighth grade.

“He's a dynamic guy. He's a great basketball player as well. Really excited to add him to this class.”

ACC SIGNING DAY NOTEBOOK

Offensive lineman Mason Trotter enters Clemson after 41 starts at Dorman High School (Roebuck). He chose the Tigers’ offer of a preferred walk-on instead of a full scholarship at ACC school Louisville.

While he will not be on scholarship to start his career, Swinney is confident he ultimately will find his way onto the Tigers’ scholarship list.

"This is an offensive lineman that we're signing as a grayshirt. He turned down Louisville and several other Division I offers to basically walk on to Clemson this year. At some point, he'll get a scholarship," Swinney said. "Really excited about Mason. We think he's got a great future in front of him.

“He's going to be one of those guys kind of like Adam Humphries. … He turned out all right. I think ole Mason Trotter is going to be a good one for us.”

Even though Swinney is excited about all of his 29 signees, he sees the real benefit coming for the 16 midyear enrollees already on campus, going through mat drills and readying to be part of spring practice.

“We’ve got a really talented team coming back that’s going to be a lot of fun to coach, so the 16 midyears are huge for us because we have all these guys that are obviously moving on,” Swinney said. “So just from a functionality of practice, to be able to have 16 new guys out there that are getting a head start as opposed to having to wait for the whole class to get here in the summer, I think that really is going to pay huge dividends and allow us to have the competitive depth that we need to keep moving our program forward.”

The Tigers finished the 2019 recruiting cycle ranked ninth nationally, according to 247sports, and eighth, according to Rivals. The Tigers also finished ranked No.1 in the ACC with 12 four-star commitments and two five-star commitments.

Also the Tigers’ class sports 14 commitments by players ranked in ESPN’s top 300 — including No. 8 cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.

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