CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 17: Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers WR University runs with the ball against Demetruce McNeal #12 of the Auburn Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
First I wanted to emphasis the importance of team recruiting. I posted the picture of Sammy above because an overlooked and undervalued factor in this week's recruiting success was the ability of the players themselves to sell Clemson. On official visits this is true with player hosts leading around recruits but the camp format as opposed to the one-day showcase allows the players to really sell and connect with recruits as well. This is the summer so I really commend the players who came to the camp and selflessly were trying to help build the program. You have to believe that Sammy Watkins, with his name recognition (along with many other Clemson players) and growing brand, were integral to landing Nkemdiche, for example. Dabo still deserves the bulk of the credit but the entire team sells/maintains that family atmosphere.
Things are beginning to settle after the most productive recruiting week for Clemson in recent memory. Lots of the staff are on vacation right now, although Montravious Adams, Jay Woods (6'2" 275), and Arbe Jones OL (6'6", 305) are all scheduled to be on campus this week. It will be interesting to see if Dabo cuts the vacation short but Brooks and Venables are on campus. I know nothing about Jones other than he is from Memphis and didn't play a lot because he was a back-up on his senior laden team. The staff is already shifting gears towards the 2014 class and have gotten off to a roaring start, securing 4 commitments already. They are laying the groundwork for a very productive class going forward. I am not a fan of projecting too far in the future and in recruiting it is unwise to count on players to commit until they send in that fax (ha, faxing...).
A couple of disappointing notes to get out of the way. LB Larenz Bryant committed to the Cocks and 2014 D-Lineman Robert Dinkins committed to North Carolina during the ridiculously titled 'Fedora's Freak Show' showcase. Fedora is going to be a force on the recruiting trail (that young, enthusiastic head coach type) if he can put together a decent season despite the scandals and sanctions. Dinkins is a bit undersized at 6'2" but solid as a rock and understands leverage. One of the strongest kids at Clemson's camp and he seemed to be favoring the Tigers earlier this year. Still a lot of time until 2014--he will battle for the top DLineman in NC next year. Michael Hill also committed to Ohio State and didn't even make a scheduled visit to Clemson yesterday. His coot for a coach said the in-state schools would get their visits but that didn't happen. Sounds to me like Urban Meyer didn't want Hill to step foot on campus and had him make the commitment. Glad he is not going to South Carolina, ultimately.
LB--We are done at LB. O'Daniel is a serious talent. Very sad to miss on Larenz Bryant to the coots because he is going to be another good one but this is a fine LB class with O'Daniel and Boulware (who will hopefully increase his lateral speed a bit). Another important point is that Kellen Jones is already familiar with the Venables and his defense so he will sit out and be ready to go next year. Venables also thinks he fits his scheme and what he wants to do. He is already on campus and should start classes this next week. Oh and their are rumblings that Greenlee will shift over to TE and play the Darrell Smith role. Wait...weren't people talking about what a great LB/Safety Greenlee was going to be?? Add him to the already too large pool of TE's. Don't worry, however, because Jordan Leggett is a legit prospect with the size, hands, and just enough speed.
RB--Continuing with the shouldn't have taken Greenlee so early theme, we are apparently dead serious about only taking two RB's in this class. I am going to tread lightly here and talk in generalizations because I don't want to add any fuel to opposing recruiters because from what I am hearing on the trail we are getting slammed by opposing schools who are after Derrick Green. First let me start with our short list. We are down to one spot between Tyshon Dye, Peyton Barber and Derrick Green. Remember that I told you about Payton Barber (5'10" 225) before and knew he would be a serious contender because this slot is meant for a big back. It doesn't hurt that Morris and Elliott also like him a lot. Barber is a second or third cousin to Marion Barber and the only major knock on him is that he was injured last year and only played the final four games of the season, rushing for 400 yards and 4 scores. I would like to see a healthy senior season and more film to evaluate before allowing him to jump over the possibility of having either Dye or Green.
Originally I was freaking out over this but the explanation and from what I can gather is that Clemson doesn't want a repeat of last year where they missed out on both Marshall and Gurley to Georgia (although I was quick to point out that we weren't as consistent with those recruits as we probably should have been throughout the entire recruiting process). So we are essentially saying that we must have a big back and will be happy with whoever we can sway. The two 2014 commits of Cook and Oglesby are smaller, quicker backs so this position is for the bruiser who will immediately fill that role in the near future.
You may also remember that Green briefly mentioned Clemson at the top for his services about three months ago after an Ohio State camp and since then every team after him (Bama, Aubrun, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Michigan, VT, Wisconsin, Penn State) has taken aim at Clemson. Not criticizing here because that is the nature of the beast but Clemson hasn't been able to fly slightly under the radar like we have with other top recruits. Our O-line offer sheets have been rightly critiqued, for example. Still we are in the thick of it for Green but he is going all the way to signing day as of now. Green won't be swayed or persuaded into making an earlier commitment than he wants. Dye is 50/50 Clemson and Auburn. He and his brother, a 2015 CB who has an offer from Tennessee, really like Clemson and both were in camp. Dye recently said that he may move up his decision date to the end of his senior season which is a positive sign. We told Gallman that we would only take two RB's and right now that appears to still be the case.
Lastly a quick WR update--Demarcus Robinson, whose nickname is 'Bud', is really 'feeling' Clemson and has us as his number one school for the moment. He still is going to Dawg night and a camp at Florida but after those two visits will likely make his decision. He turned in another strong performance at the Rivals100 event, where he met Clemson commit O'Daniel and Kendall Fuller (O'Daniel is already an awesome Clemson representative). We are probably battling Florida the most for his services and I will be very disappointed if we lost both Fulwood and Bud to them. Clemson is very rapidly turning into WR University if we have potential NFL players Watkins, Nuk, Peake, Bryant, and possibly Brown and Humphries combining potentially with Bud, Marquez North, and Jenkins.