Clemson’s fancy NIL facility is working with latest commitments

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According to ESPN, five-star linebacker Sammy Brown and four-star wide receiver Bryant Wesco have decided to play their college ball at Clemson. Brown comes in at No. 17 in ESPN’s rankings of the top 300 players in his class, while Wesco comes at No. 23. Nothing about two really good football players deciding to play at a really good program for a really good coach seems out of the norm. But, it’s hilarious, given that Dabo Swinney is at the center of this.

“We try to teach our guys, use football to create the opportunities, take advantage of the platform and the brand and the marketing you have available to you. But as far as paying players, and professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me. I’ll go do something else because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is,” Swinney infamously said in 2014.

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He lied.

When NIL went into effect on July 1, 2021, Swinney didn’t resign. Last December, he said, “We built this program on NIL….We built this program in God’s name, image, and likeness.” And in March, the Tigers unveiled a facility dedicated to student-athlete branding and education.

“We’re going to call it The CAB because what does a cab do? It gives you a lift to your destination,” Swinney said. “But guess what, you’ve gotta pay the fare. We can’t do it for you. You’ve got to do the work. I’m really excited about it because it’s a living, breathing space where our guys know they can go for expertise.

“If you’re injured, you go to the training room. If you want to get stronger, you go to the weight room. This was an opportunity for our guys to know that if they want help with branding and sponsorship and NIL and tax education and finances and all of these very real-world issues, you go to The CAB where we have a dedicated space with people ready to help them.”

A football decision

It’s amazing how fast a fraud will switch up on you. But, according to Brown and Wesco, it sounds like this was a football decision.

“I really like what they do on defense and I think that if Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter leave next year, I’ll have a good shot to go in and compete for some playing time,” said Brown. “So I think, just like I said, everything kind of fell into place. … They’ve got a good scheme and Coach Goodwin is very aggressive with the linebackers. We get to blitz a lot, so it’ll be a really, really fun scheme to play in.”

“I would like to go to a school that has an offense that’s prioritizing and then getting the ball into the receivers’ hands,” Wesco told ESPN. “Not necessarily every play but [a program that] will have an offense set around letting the receivers make a name for themselves and making big plays.

Rivals and 247Sports have Clemson listed eighth in terms of team recruiting rankings for 2024, while On 3 has moved them to fourth. ESPN has them 15th. Power Five conferences combined to make $3.3 billion in revenue for the fiscal year of 2022, and Clemson’s conference — the ACC — made $617 million with payouts between $37.9 million to $41.3 million, while Swinney has a 10-year contract that pays him $115 million.

Sammy Brown and Bryant Wesco might have chosen Clemson because it was the best decision for their playing careers. But, Death Valley is also a place that teaches players how to make money, even though their coach was so against that idea — while making millions off of their backs. 

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