The Clemson Tigers have experienced success on the field the likes of which has not been seen in South Carolina over the last six seasons.
But maybe more impressive than the wins, which there has been numerous, or national championships, which there have been two, or the success in recruiting, which has seen the Tigers bring in the cream of the crop, is the Tigers ability to replace starters lost every season with seemingly little, if any, drop off.
The reason for the lack of drop off is the Tigers are focused on one thing, and one thing only—developing talent.
"I mean, y'all heard me say many times football is a developmental game. And we're a developmental program," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "You know, we really are. I mean, you're gonna occasionally you see a guy walk in here that's you know right away, but most of the time our guys come in here and they put the work in."
The defense has drawn much of the praise this season, with the emergence of true freshmen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy garnering much of the hype this offseason and through the first five games.
Bresee joined Clemson as the consensus No. 1 player in America for the class of 2020. Murphy joined the Tigers as ESPN.com's third-ranked player in the class. Both made an immediate impact in their collegiate debuts. It had been five years since a Clemson true freshman had recorded a sack in a season opener, when Dexter Lawrence and Tre Lamar each did so in the 2016 season opener at Auburn.
Both Murphy and Bresee got on the stat sheet in the opener against Wake, with Murphy compiling two sacks among a team-high seven tackles and Bresee adding half a sack and the Tigers' first blocked field goal since Week 2 of 2018. With two sacks in the opener, Murphy was already halfway toward entering the Top 5 in Clemson history in sacks by a first-year freshman. He and Bresee have combined for 5.0 sacks through five games.
But Swinney was quick to correct the notion that it is only the defense that develops talent so efficiently. The Tiger offensive line lost four starters from last year's team, wide receiver Tee Higgins to the NFL and star wide receiver Justyn Ross to injury.
"I mean, it's not just defense it's the same thing on offense," Swinney said. "The word developmental program, and then the same thing over on the defensive side. I mean, (Justin) Mascoll was our player the game. He's a third-year player. So redshirt sophomore. You know when he got here as a freshman, he was a long way away from being a player of the game. And that is through development. Through work ethic. Through opportunity to play some here and there. He's, he's become a good player and gotten better. So, it's all across the board."
While Swinney admits there are exceptions to the rule, like Myles Murphy or Bryan Bresee–who enroll as ready-to-play athletes, Swinney will always take pride in the way his program develops these diamonds in the rough.
"There are those guys it takes a little while to, to make the transition," Swinney said. "And so I think it just speaks to just the. Our philosophy as appropriate in how we play guys how would get guys experience throughout their, their career and then all sudden they're ready to go.
"So I think it just speaks to the overall development, the developmental mindset of our program and how we recruit. So I think it just speaks to the overall development, developmental mindset of our program and how we recruit."