In a world saturated with recruiting rankings, you'll be hard pressed to find very many coaching staffs who put a whole lot of stock into their input. What the trained eye sees on film and a coaches evaluation of talent, character, and fit in their system always happens to go much further than any "experts" recruiting ranking.
At Clemson, Dabo Swinney believes that a lot of a prospect rankings have more to do with the media, the prospects location, and how they're marketed by their school than anything actually relevant. As OrangeandWhite.com points out, Swinney can name a handful of guys on their roster that are currently playing integral roles on their team that were overlooked by many recruiting services, and numerous other programs.
For Swinney and his staff, it's all about trusting what you see and are able to evaluate while blocking out all of the outside noise.
"I just know what we see and what we evaluate. That's just part of our process. People have different opinions. That's the world we live in, and that's perfectly OK. What's important is what you believe in."
Swinney also recognizes that dealing with young men is going to result in some calculated risks and as long as humans are involved, there are going to be times where you're wrong. Some recruits will change in a new environment, some have trouble adjusting to the college lifestyle, and some are more focused on their social life than what is ultimately best for the team.
The key is to trust your assessments.
"The key is that you have to believe in your evaluations. You have criteria, and if you're going to get away from that criteria, there has to be certain intangibles." he explained.
That's an excellent point. If you're going to go off your evaluation chart, there better be a reason, like intangibles, to justify it. After all, sometimes those intangibles are harder to uncover, and can make up for deficiencies in a lot of other areas.