Clawson focuses on positional needs

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

When Dave Clawson took the job as BG’s football coach in December. 2008, Athletic Director Greg Christopher warned him it wasn’t going to be easy.

“He said, ‘Your first year you have a chance, the second year it’s going to be a real challenge,’ I’ve certainly reminded him of that conversation a couple times this year,” Clawson said. “The second we got here, we knew year two would be a challenge.”

The 2010 season proved to be the challenge that Christopher foresaw, as the Falcons suffered their first 10-loss season in program history.

While the record itself was historically bad, the story behind the record better portrays the 2010 BG football team.

For most of the season the Falcons played with 44 scholarship players, as of the 79 players on scholarship 19 redshirted, five were injured and another eight were “I don’t know how else to categorize it; they were recruiting mistakes,” according to Clawson.

Due to APR — a score based on student-athletes’ performance in the classroom — the program lost eight scholarships in 2008, the most of any team in the country.

Losing scholarships in 2008, combined with the fact that the program had 31 players from the upperclass before Clawson took over, has left the Falcons fighting, and losing, a war of attrition since Clawson took over. During the 2009 season, a year that ended in a bowl berth and a 7-6 record, the Falcons only played 48 scholarship players.

Reversing the trend begins with building depth through recruiting, something Clawson’s done in the past two seasons by bringing in the maximum 25 recruits each year.

“We had the APR issue; that thing is close to being solved. We’ve had very little attrition our first two year recruiting class … we’ve signed the maximum amount the two years; our numbers next year are going to be more in line with what a Division I college football program should look like,” Clawson said.

The past two recruiting classes have been about getting athletes in the program; this year the focus will be more about bringing in needs based on position.

In particular Clawson talked about bringing in depth on the secondary and the offensive line, both units that struggled this season, and at wide receiver since he’ll be losing five to graduation following the 2011 season.

While the Falcons need to build in certain areas, Clawson is happy with his depth at both linebacker and tight end. In both positions he had young starters and players who received significant playing time this year.

Areas of concern also included bringing in a running back and quarterback, something Clawson likes to do with each class.

With the team and program’s turnaround, “It’s all about recruiting,” something that could make Clawson’s third season more successful and take away the necessity for him to remind Christopher about their conversation back in December 2008.

“I’m confident we’re going to sign a solid class this year, and that will give three solid classes, back-to-back-to-back, and I think that we’ll give us a solid foundation to move forward from,” Clawson said.