CLEMSON, SC (WCSC) - Clemson overcame the school's first losing season in 12 years to sign a group of 29 players coach Dabo Swinney hopes can lead the Tigers back to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Among the signees Wednesday were three standouts from the state of Florida in running back Mike Bellamy, receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Tony Steward.
Bellamy and Watkins had long been pledged to Clemson. However, Steward announced his choice this morning, passing on his expected destination of Florida State.
The last time that happened for the Tigers was five years ago when C.J. Spiller of Lake Butler, Fla., shunned the nearby Seminoles and Florida Gators to play for Clemson.
Spiller became the ACC's player of the year in 2009. Clemson signed four players who were either first or second-team USA Today All-Americans, the most in one year in school recruiting history (USA Today teams date to 1982).
Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward were two of the three first-team USA Today All-Americans at linebacker, while Mike Bellamy and Charone Peake were second team selections. The previous high for USA Today first or second-team All-Americans by a Clemson class was three set in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 2006.
•Three Clemson signees were Parade All-Americans. Mike Bellamy and Stephone Anthony were first team and Lateek Townsend was second team.
•Clemson signed four players who played in the US Army All-American game in San Antonio (Charone Peake, Sammy Watkins, Lateek Townsend and Tony Steward). Three signees played in the Under Armour All-America game in Orlando (Mike Bellamy, Stephone Anthony and Spencer Region.)
•Clemson signed four five-star players according to Rivals.com. All four, Tony Steward (13), Sammy Watkins (15), Stephone Anthony (24), and Mike Bellamy (25) are ranked among the top 25 players in the nation. Clemson signed six top 100 players according to Rivals.com this year and a seventh, Martavis Bryant, was a top 100 player according to Rivals last year before he went to prep school.
•ESPN.com named only 14 players as five-star athletes and two of the 14 (Peake and Steward) signed with Clemson.
•Clemson has two of the top four receivers in the nation according to ESPN.com. Charone Peake is ranked second and Sammy Watkins fourth.
•Clemson signed three of the top 10 linebackers in the nation according to Rivals.com. Tony Steward (1), Stephone Anthony (3) and Lateek Townsend (10). According to ESPN.com, Anthony is the #1 ranked outside linebacker and Steward is the #1 inside linebacker. Anthony is ranked as the top outside linebacker in the nation and Steward is ranked #2 at that position by 247sports.
•Clemson signed seven players who were on the 2011 ESPN.com top 150 list, the second most according to ESPN behind the Clemson 2008 class that had 10 top 150 players. ESPN ranked Clemson's 2008 class second best in the nation. Tony Steward is the highest ranked Clemson player according to ESPN.com with a #9 overall ranking.
*Anthony has the highest overall ranking with a #4 overall rating by Tom Lemming. He is Clemson's highest rated player by Scout.com (38) and Sporting News (6) as well. Steward is Clemson's highest rated player according to ESPN.com (9) and Rivals.com (13). Sammy Watkins is Clemson's highest rated player by 247sports (9).
•Clemson signed six of the top 50 players in the nation according to Tom Lemming: Stephone Anthony (4), Tony Steward (6), Cortez Davis (43), Mike Bellamy (46), Charone Peake (47), and Sammy Watkins (48). All six are rated as five-star recruits by Lemming.
•Clemson signed three of the top 12 players in the nation according to 247sports: Watkins (9), Anthony (10) and Steward (12).
•Three ESPN.com 150 players did not decide to pick Clemson until Wednesday: Tony Steward (9), Stephone Anthony (32) and Spencer Region (149).
•Clemson signed two of the top three prep school prospects according to 247sports. Corey Crawford is ranked first and Martavis Bryant was third.
•Clemson's recruiting class is currently ranked as number 10 in the nation according to ESPN.com.