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Nov 24, 2018

THE RECRUITING GURU

By: TIM BOURRET

Note: The following appears in the South Carolina gameday football program


When Jordan Sorrells came to Dabo Swinney’s office to interview for the position of coordinator of football recruiting communications, he had a few questions, especially because it was a newly-created position.

The infectious, positive and engaging personality of Clemson’s head coach has convinced many a recruit to join his program, and the same can be said for his administration.

“After sitting down with coach Swinney, any doubts I had fell into oblivion,” said Sorrells with a smile. “I came out of that meeting and said to myself, ‘Well, I need to call my wife…we are coming to Clemson.’”

Sorrells had been tied to Furman and its football program since he was a youth. His father, Tim, a Furman graduate and quarterback on two SoCon championship teams, recently retired after 32 years as an assistant coach there. He had other relatives who played there, and his mom is a Furman graduate.

Jordan was an excellent quarterback in his own right. He led Greenville High School to a 40-9 record during his career and was the Shrine Bowl MVP in 2004, leading the Sandlappers to a 35-21 victory.

It did not take him long to become the starter at Furman. After redshirting the 2005 season, he had an outstanding 2006, as he was named SoCon Freshman-of-the-Week three times. A highlight took place when he had a passing touchdown with 28 seconds left in the game to defeat Jacksonville State.

In 2007 as a sophomore, he completed 18-28 passes for 172 yards against Clemson, then started the entire 2008 season, when he totaled 2,537 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. He started all of the 2009 season as well, including his Senior Day game when he had five passing touchdowns in a win over Wofford. He is still in the top 10 in many Paladin passing categories.

When his playing career ended, he began his employment career as a manager for Chick-fil-A, but he always had the desire to return to college athletics. In addition to his father, he has two cousins who were longtime high school coaches, and his grandfather is in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame after many years as a football coach.

When Furman head coach Bruce Fowler called him to return to his alma mater as director of football operations in 2011, he jumped at the opportunity.

“Furman never had a full-time football ‘ops’ person when I was playing, and I liked the thought of working in administration.”

Sorrells held that position at Furman for four seasons, and he was perfectly content with his wife in nearby Greenville.

“Mike Dooley (himself a Furman graduate) had been the defensive coordinator at Greenville High School when I played, and he called to see if I was interested in this new position at Clemson.

“Obviously, I was familiar with the Clemson program. Robbie Caldwell was on the staff at Furman when my dad played there, and I was already good friends with Tyler Grisham and Thomas Austin, who had played at Clemson the same time I was at Furman.”

After that meeting with Swinney, he was on his way to Tigertown.

There was a bit of a transition, but it did not take Sorrells long to appreciate where he had come from and the resources he had at Clemson.

“The good thing about the Furman job was that I had to wear a lot of hats and got a lot of experience in many aspects of the job. At Clemson, there are so many more resources, and you appreciate that.”

Sorrells has had a positive effect on the Clemson program that has had four top-12 recruiting classes in a row according to ESPN.

“My job is to lead the day-to-day recruiting operation. That is my No. 1 overall responsibility. I have a lot of interaction with the coaches to keep informed on who and how they are recruiting so we are all on the same page.

“I also spend a lot of time organizing visits by the prospects, and when the coaches are on the road, I am like an air-traffic controller. It is quite a logistical machine to manage all those coaches on the road.”

While the Clemson and Furman programs are at different levels within the NCAA structure, there are some similarities.

“Clemson reminds me of Furman because of the family aspect of the program,” added Sorrells. “You come to our practices and kids are there, especially on Wednesday before the family-night meal. Coach Swinney should get a ton of credit for making that a priority in his program, and it was that way at Furman as well.”

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