Clemson has done an excellent job jumping out to an early recruiting advantage in the state of South Carolina for the class of 2012.
So far this recruiting cycle, 247sports has done a good job ranking the top talent in South Carolina. Not only that, they have ranked players in a way that makes it easy to compare players across positions. They give players grades on a scale that appears to range between 0-100(although Jadeveon Clowney received a ranking of 105 last year), where
99+ are five star prospects
90-98 are four star prospects
80-89 are three star prospects
0-79 are two star prospects
Looking at their early rankings, the top 20 players in SC as ranked by 247 appear to be, with their grades on the website in parenthesis next to them. If two or more prospects had the same grade, I sorted them at my discretion.
1-Shaq Roland ATH Lexington (96)
2-Javarius Leamon OT Woodruff (95)
3- Quinshad Davis WR Gaffney (92)
4- Martin Aiken DE Bamberg (92)
5- Oliver Jones OT Ninety Six (90)
6- Patrick Destefano OG Dorman (90)
7- Kwinton Smith WR Dillon (88)
8- Jabril Solomon ATH Hemmingway (87)
9- Cordrea Tankersley ATH Silver Bluff (87)
10- JJ McCullough ATH Nation’s Ford (87)
11- Shaq Lawson DE Daniel (86)
12- Ronald Geohagan S Allendale (86)
13- Marty Williams ATH Fox Creek (84)
14- Casey Gladney WR Columbia (84)
15- Justin Meredtih TE TL Hanna (84)
16- Gimel President DE Wando (83)
17- Devontre Parnell CB Fairfield Central (83)
18- Kendrick Salley RB Williston Elko (83)
19- Tyler Knox DE Myrtle Beach (82)
20- Marquise Jones CB Eau Claire (82)
Jonathan McLaughlin OT from Mauldin and Shakeem Wharton RB from Byrnes also received grades of 82 from the website, but I felt Knox and Jones were superior prospects.
Looking at the list, Clemson gave offers to all of the top 13 prospects, along with #15 and # 16. Clemson has also offered, and taken a commitment from Goose Creek LB TJ Burrell, who is graded a 79 by 247 sports and is not included in the top 20 prospects in the state by that service.
The top prospect in the state, Shaq Roland of Lexington, is not considering the Tigers. The #7 prospect, Kwinton Smith, is also not currently very interested in Clemson.And #15, Meredith, recently committed to North Carolina. Clemson decided to not push for Meredith and he took his services elsewhere. We're full at TE/H and the need is not great at that position.
However, the Tigers are in good shape for quite a few others, starting with #2 on 247’s list, OT Javarius Leamon. He spent three days in Clemson for the first session of camp, and returned almost immediately after with his family. There were thoughts that a commitment was possible at that time, and although that didn’t happen, Clemson is currently in very strong shape for Leamon. Leamon has some academic hurdles to clear over the next year to be eligible for freshman enrollment at Clemson (or anywhere) however, and so he may be a placement prospect.
247’s #3 prospect, Quinshad Davis from Gaffney, is also seriously considering Clemson. The Tigers were first to offer and led briefly this past winter, and Jeff Scott has recruited him hard. The Tigers came into the cycle looking for one WR, and got a commitment from Charlotte prospect Germone Hopper (rated a 95 by 247sports), but they have continued to recruit Davis and view him as an oversign worthy prospect. Davis may prefer South Carolina to Clemson, but the Gamecocks may prefer Dillon’s Kwinton Smith to Davis. If USC takes Smith, it is unlikely they will also take Davis, and it will put the Tigers in very strong position there. Davis is thought to be somewhat concerned with the quantity and quality of receivers signed by the Tigers in 2011, so that could be something to watch.
The #4 prospect, Bamberg DL Martin Aiken, grew up a Clemson fan and will make his decision Sunday. He spent a day in Clemson last week for summer camp and immediately afterwards set a decision date of June 26. Right now things look very good for Clemson to pick up his commitment.
#5, Oliver Jones, is a strong Clemson lean and is likely to commit to the Tigers before the summer is out. He spent three days in Clemson for the first session of camp despite the fact he could not work out as he recovered from an injury suffered last fall, and for all intents and purposes behaved like a Clemson commitment as he interacted with coaches, prospects and current commitments.
#6, Patrick Destefano, is already committed to Clemson.
#8, Jabril Solomon, is also a strong lean to the Tigers right now. Solomon has academic question marks, and with Clemson already holding commitments from three other defensive back prospects, it may be an issue of who commits first between Solomon and #13 Marty Williams. Williams is also a strong lean to Clemson at the present. Williams, a high school quarterback at a historic dormat in 1-A football, might be pound for pound the most impressive pure athlete in the state this year, with the exception of Roland. He would likely play safety at Clemson, but he impressed at CB at camp earlier this month.
#9, Cordrea Tankersley, committed to the Tigers last week to play defensive back. He is a similar story to Williams.
#10, Jay Jay McCullough, spent several days in Clemson earlier this month participating in the first session of camp. McCullough is currently a strong lean to the Tigers and could commit before his SR season begins. Clemson likes him better than Justin Meredith, and if he commits he'll be the lone take at TE/H. If he doesn't, we doubt that CU takes anyone at the position.
#11 Shaq Lawson and #12 Ronald Geohagan are both commitments to Clemson.
#16 Gimel President, the other offered top 20 in-state player also likes the Tigers a lot, although it would not be accurate to characterize Clemson as his outright leader. However, with a commitment already from Lawson and a likely commitment over the next week from Aiken, there may not be room in the boat for President by the time he wants to decide. He has been quite impressive at Combine workouts, but it has never translated to on-field performance.
1- If you go by recruiting services, Clemson appears to be recruiting the right instate kids. Last year Clemson signed 13 prospects from the state of SC. However, only three were considered top 10 prospects. 3 more were considered top 15 prospects. The majority (7 of 13) were not ranked within the top 15 by 247 sports. While several of those, like LB BJ Goodson and DL Roderick Byers were still quality prospects with good offers, several others appeared to be clear reaches. The Tigers don’t appear to be reaching in state this year. Goose Creek’s TJ Burrell is the only currently offered prospect rated outside of 247’s top 20, but Burrell is a three star prospect on both Rivals and Scout.
2- Many of the kids the Tigers have commitments and leads for are also kids South Carolina is recruiting. After the way last season unfolded for both schools, it is very surprising to see Clemson leading the way for so many instate kids. Recent commitments Tankersley and Geohagan both had South Carolina offers, as did earlier commitment Patrick Destefano. Leans Martin Aiken, Oliver Jones, and JJ McCullough also hold Gamecock offers. Javarius Leamon was a heavy South Carolina lean over Clemson entering the recruiting process. Of course, the recruiting process is not over with yet, as we saw last year with Phillip Dukes, but things are very promising for Clemson right now. That said, things are still going well for South Carolina in recruiting. They appear poised to sign an unusual number of quality out of state prospects for the class of 2012.
3- While Clemson is in very good shape inside the state of SC, it is very unlikely that Clemson’s 2012 recruiting class will be as highly regarded or draw as many headlines as the 2011 class did. Clemson will not take as many kids as they did in 2011 and Clemson is not in position to sign the same quantity of high level out of state prospects they did in 2011. We would be surprised if Clemson didn't finish inside the Top 20, but Top 10 is a reach.
4- The talent level in SC was thought to be down coming into the recruiting cycle, and while outside of Roland there are not nearly as many national headliners in state as there have been over the last 4-5 classes, there does appear to be a glut of quality ACC/SEC level talent that falls in the high three star range in this class. Clemson has been proactive and was the first to offer many of these kids, and as a result appears poised to reap the benefits.
Feel free to leave any questions or comment on our assertions below. You should treat these overviews as open recruiting discussions.