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April 19, 2018

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

DABO SWINNEY: Appreciate you guys being with us today. Really excited about the spring that we had. Had an excellent culmination to it Saturday with our spring game. We were very fortunate because we've got the great majority of our guys back and had a lot of people going through spring practice, especially with nine mid-years joining us in January. We only had eight signees that aren't with us. So it was a lot of fun to be able to have that type of competition on the field in spring ball.

Outside of, really, in the secondary, I thought we had the type of depth that allowed us to really be very competitive this spring and get better. So like our team, good leadership, good experience coming back.

You know, I'm excited about the summer and the opportunity for this team to take another big step forward. The chemistry is really what I think the team develops the most, really gets prepared for the season.

So lot to learn from spring ball. That's a positive. Some mistakes, a lot of good things, a lot of guys came out of it with confidence. Got a better understanding of the make-up of our team. Can't wait to get started again with them in August.

Q. You look at coming out of the spring with Kelly Bryant, Trevor Lawrence, Hunter Johnson, Chase Brice, what can you say about the quarterback position as you head into the summer and into the fall?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, we've got a really good situation. Never had quite this type of situation where we've got really four guys that I think could go win with, literally. I think we could go win with any of those guys. I think they're all really working hard to be the best version of themselves. They're all at different spots.

But great young men, very committed, very competitive situation, and they all had some great moments in the spring. They all had some not so great. But then the process of going through our meetings with those guys right now, and it's a very good situation. Kind of like some other positions on our team where we've got very, very good depth, very competitive depth. So should be fun. Obviously, Kelly's won a conference and taken us to the playoffs, and he's got great experience.

The other guys are right there and battling. So it's great competition, and I don't have any doubt when it comes September we're goods to go in a much better situation.

Last year we were starting over, and Kelly had no experience, and hunter was just getting here, trying to figure it out so really Chase Brice was red-shirted and Trevor wasn't here. So I think we're going to be in a much better starting point than we were this time last year.

Q. Then as far as the receiving corps with Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud heading forward to the NFL, just what you think they could be to an NFL team, and secondly, what you have seen out of your receiver corps in the spring thus far?
DABO SWINNEY: I'm excited for both those guys and their future opportunities. To be honest with you, I think both of them have a chance to be better pros than they were as college players. I think Ray-Ray played running back in high school, and Deon played quarterback. So they really only played receiver for two and a half years of their career.

So it's still all in front of them. They're still very much developing guys that have the skills and tools. But I think now they have a real foundation to build upon. Ray-Ray's a dynamic guy. He's going to have ab an impactful guy as a returner. I think he will. Lot of versatility to his game, and I think has a bright future.

Same thing with Deon. Deon had a chance to be a great pick-up for someone. He's dynamic. He can play multiple positions. The same thing, he really just now, I think, has the foundation in place to be a great receiver. He's got good experience. Last year we were kind of starting over. So even though Ray-Ray and Deon are gone, we had a lot of guys getting their first opportunities last year, like Amari Rodgers and Diondre Overton got some good experience last year.

Tee Higgins was a guy that had an unbelievable spring for us. Hunter Renfrow's going to be back. A kid I'm as excited about as anybody, really two guys, that's Trevion Thompson and T.J. Chase. Trevion has transformed himself, and T.J. Chase is, I think, an emerging, very, very good player for us.

So it's exciting. And we've got a couple young freshmen coming in. Derion Kendrick, DK, and Justin Ross that we think also has an opportunity to be in the mix along with Cornell Powell.

Q. Flipping over to the other side of the ball there on defense, with all those talented, experienced defensive linemen you have back, what did you kind of observe this spring about how they maybe set the tone for the defense or the whole team? And as coaches what does that mean when you know you have those guys to count on as you kind of plan for your defense this year?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, I think just that, they set the tone. These guys didn't come back here to go through the motion. They came back to get better individually and also to play on a great team. But those guys up front, just tremendous leadership and incredible commitment to what we do and how we do it.

When your best players are like that, it sure makes everybody else pick their game up. Great energy level at practice and so forth. So it was fun to watch. Then to be able to see them mentor and nurture the young guys that we have that at some point will be taking their place when they're out of here is, as a coach, man, it's fun to watch.

It's fun to watch them take pride in that. That's what we saw. There was no question about it, we're going to have a good defensive line and excited for those guys and their opportunities in this upcoming season.

Q. I wanted to ask you about that wonderful golf cart you gave to your sports information director. I talked to him on the show last night, so talk about that gift you gave him?
DABO SWINNEY: Oh, man, well, it was a blessing to be able to do that. I love Tim Bourret. He's been an amazing asset to Clemson university for a long time. But certainly for me I've been the head coach, this will be my fifth year coming up, and he's been with me every step of the way.

He's just been a great friend and just a great mentor, and someone that I can always count on. He's retiring. He's still going to be around, but we just wanted to give him something that would be special that he would really enjoy and use. He's an avid golfer and lives in a little golfing community, so he'll have an opportunity to enjoy that for hopefully many years to come.

Q. I wanted to ask you your impressions of the new Florida State coach, Willie Taggert. I know you've had some battles with Florida State over the years. What are some things you think Willie Taggert is doing great, and what are some things you think he can bring to the conference?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, I haven't been around Willie a whole lot in my career. I did get to meet him. He actually came through Clemson. I guess it was not long after he had the Oregon job, maybe last spring. I think he came through here and just kind of stopped through for a day or so with his coaches. It was really the first time I met him. He's got a great track record. Been successful everywhere he's been.

As far as Florida State, I think it's a good fit. Obviously knows the area. He's recruited the State for a long time, and he's off to a good start. So don't have any doubt that he'll do an excellent job.

Q. I know you have a closer connection with Terry Bowden than you do Bobby Bowden. But you're really fond of Bobby. Willie has done a great job of bringing Bobby back to the program. I just wanted to get the impression of what did you think of a new coach kind of inviting a legend back to a program like that, like Willie has done with Bobby?
DABO SWINNEY: Oh, well, I think that's pretty smart. I don't why you wouldn't. I mean, I don't know why you would not. Bobby Bowden is -- I mean, he's going to be -- when you think of Florida State, you're going to always think of Bobby Bowden forever.

It's like when you think of Alabama, you think of Bear Bryant. It always will be the case. Certainly Nick Saban has carved his own identity. But I promise you, if Coach Bryant was alive today, Nick Saban would have him over there.

I just think he's been there a long time and has an incredible understanding of Florida State and the people there and knows everyone. I'm not surprised at all. I don't really know what you're referencing to, but I'm not surprised at all if he's reached out to Coach Bowden and embraced him and tried to get him involved in the program. I think that's a very smart move.

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