Brandon Ford was one of the most prolific tight ends in the Dabo Swinney era, leaving school in 2012 tied for the school record in receiving touchdowns (12) by a tight end.
After beginning his career as the backup to Dwayne Allen in 2008, Ford would slowly evolve into one of the best tight ends in the country during his senior season. During his productive career, Ford totaled 65 receptions for 728 yards and 12 touchdowns in 44 games, 14 of which were starts.
Growing up a fan of the rival Gamecocks, many thought Ford was destined to play for South Carolina. While he did have an offer to play in Columbia for Steve Spurrier, Ford told All Clemson that a comment from one of the Spurrier's would ultimately cost them when it came to his recruitment.
"To be honest, I was actually a USC guy and at first I wanted to go to USC," Ford said. "Growing up I was all garnet and black but due to some unfriendly like comments, I think it was Steve Spurrier Jr., or one of the two made the comment going into my senior year, they didn't think I could play or that I wasn't good enough."
"Then, sure enough, I finished third in the nation in receiving yards. By that time Clemson had already done their homework and I came up there for a 7-on-7 and kind of showcased my talents, got offered on the spot, and committed shortly after that. I kind of was Clemson from that day forward."
Ford had several Power-5 offers, but many of those came late, after he'd already decided on Clemson.
"When I was coming out I actually had a lot and a good bit that were kind of like low-key," Ford said. "The reason I say low-key because I committed to Clemson, going into my senior year, and at the time I had Georgia; Tennessee was another who offered me, Virginia was another one and NC State."
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"Virginia came on like really, really late. They were trying to make the push late, like during my senior season and after my senior season, South Carolina offered me. I had a ton of smaller schools (offer) and quite a bit of division one schools as well, but I was kind of already sold on Clemson."
The recruiting world has changed drastically since Ford was going through the process. Coming out of Hanahan High in North Charleston, the former tight end said it was a little more difficult to get noticed back then.
"The NCAA has gotten a little more lenient with things now," Ford said. "Now, I believe you can only have so many visits to a school, a certain amount of times. I believe they're allowed to do a little more now."
Ford said players back then didn't have the luxury of all the camps that the players of today have access to. Something he likened to AAU Basketball.
"Back when I was playing we didn't have like all those, I call it AAU for football, kind of like AAU basketball, where you can get more exposure," Ford said. "When I was coming out, it was more so like, if you were a highly touted player, they would recognize you, probably bring you up to their camps and stuff like that. I would say definitely there's more ways to get yourself noticed compared to when I was coming out for sure."
At the end of the day, Ford said high school players of today have it a lot better than players from just a decade ago did and that's something he is happy to see.
"As far as recruiting goes, I've noticed nowadays a lot of these young players have so much," Ford said. "Technology gets better and better, video is better, the quality of video. You have more scouts and stuff out there now. So, you know, I think it's evolved in a good way for the recruiting class now compared to when I was coming out in 2008."