Being a native of Knoxville, Tenn., it's natural for Patrick Dalton to compare Clemson's game-day atmosphere to Tennessee. The Tigers held up quite nicely during his visit on Saturday.
“I think even though Clemson was playing an average team, there was still a solid, loyal fan base there. ... It seemed like there were a lot more people interested in a Clemson game than most UT games,” the junior offensive lineman from Knoxville (Tenn.) Christian Academy said after watching Clemson beat Furman.
That understandably has been the case in recent seasons as Tennessee has struggled to rebuild and crowds have dwindled. It was certainly different Saturday when the Vols hosted Florida in front of a sellout crowd. Dalton passed on the tough ticket to see the Vols. Instead, he visited Clemson because he had already accepted the invitation and the Tigers have shown more interest.
“It was really good,” the 6-foot-5, 308-pound prospect said of the ACC school. “Clemson is really nice.”
Dalton said he was also impressed by Clemson's facilities, particularly the Tigers' weight room. Then there was the game, which Clemson won 41-7.
“The game atmosphere was crazy,” Dalton said. “It was packed even though Furman isn't a well-known team.”
If Clemson coaches secure Dalton, it wouldn't be the first time they've signed an offensive lineman out of East Tennessee. In February, the Tigers signed top-rated center Jay Guillermo from Maryville (Tenn.) High. Dalton is being recruited by offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.
“Coach Caldwell seemed really interested in me being there,” Dalton said. “He said he was going to keep giving me looks.”
Dalton is also being recruited by Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Duke, Virginia Tech and has had limited contact with Tennessee. If the Vols come calling, they'll have more on their side than just proximity. Dalton's teammates, offensive lineman Brett Kendrick and receiver Josh Smith, are both committed to Tennessee for the 2013 class. Dalton said he doesn't have any visits planned for now.