It seems other sites are having daily Raekwon McMillan updates, so you know it is becoming recruiting season and sites have to keep the daily hit counts up. Not all that much has changed. Since the last time I posted on Raekwon, Dabo has gone in-house and we wait on Urban Meyer and Nick Saban (Gus Malzhan earlier this week went in-home and the defensive staff was in house earlier this week). The only significant news is that Auburn is now a part of the finalists and are making a push. The Raekwon camp has been very good at locking things down, however, so no one is really clear how big of a push Auburn is making, although I hear it is too little too late.
Remember this is a legitimate, consensus 5* recruit and the number one Linebacker in the nation coming out of high school--he just won the high school Butkus award for top LB. This is the big boy recruiting. Tons of conflicting reports about who is in the lead. Some maintain Ohio State is the leader while others have Alabama making the late push and we all know from last year how dangerous Auburn can be when the war chest is motivated (it was depressing to see on many plays LB Cassanova McKinzy of Chick-fil-A infamy, DT Mont Adams, and DE Carl Lawson, my recruiting crush of last year who I was higher on than Nkemdiche, all playing together against Alabama). Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is making their biggest push. Urban Meyer will get the last in-home scheduled for the 15th and Saban should go in on the 12th (tonight).
So with all the conflicting reports what do we actually know? Raekwon knows how to do this recruiting thing (even has a trademark on his Twitter handle). Since the beginning he has known what to do as a recruit. I remember at this point last season he was already getting on Rivals and Scout national analysts to give him that fifth star he wanted (this is before recruiting started getting dumb and ranking essentially high school sophomores before they play a down as juniors).
I do believe that Raekwon can really surprise people on Monday, December 16th (noon on NBCSports/Rivals) when he announces--anything is possible. We have maintained throughout this process that Clemson was in the lead (probably the only people to say that consistently) and we are going to stick with that now. As far as I can tell every national analyst is just playing the guessing game at this point. We do know there was a strategy and reason the staff went in-home so early. Obviously we can't divulge that at this moment and it is unclear how big of an impact it will have but there was a rationale.
You always will be nervous when you have Urban Meyer trying to seal the deal the night before or Alabama in the picture, perhaps the best closing duo in the nation (and then Auburn is a different kind of closing wild card). We don't know if the Saban to Texas rumors will impact this at all (I maintain that if it is going to happen then it will be before the end of the JUCO deadline this week--some Meyer to Texas rumors as well) or if Ohio State falling out of the national championship does anything (I don't think it does).
Bottomline: It is clear to me that Ohio State has not led throughout this process. The timeline that is more accurate is that Clemson was the first to really offer and stay on Raekwon since the ninth grade and we led outright this past summer. We are the de facto "home" school now with Georgia never being in the race (we can't pull up a motorcade like Tennessee did to regain ground on Josh Malone so we don't have those kinds of home advantages) but it is unclear which factors will ultimately sway Raekwon. He made a big deal about playing close to home to see his brother play but what was his rationale for divulging that? I hear Clemson has been mainly concerned with taking down Alabama in their pitches to McMillan. Rivals national gurujust posted to Twitter to watch out for Clemson and so it begins.
Clemson has the long-standing personal relationships. We know that Ohio State at one point faded after his initial visit to the campus. Alabama was trending when they sold McMillan on playing in the NFL and that Clemson's defense was bad but then we stuffed Georgia and showed we could play defense (Grady coming back and Vic Beasley as an All-American is also not a bad pitch). We are playing in the BCS Orange Bowl with Ohio State (Bama also in a BCS bowl) so we are on par with the other suitors this year. We have many of McMillan's friends already committed to Clemson and he has associations or friendships with current and former Clemson players. Lots of arrows pointing to Clemson.
The real question for me is whether or not Clemson can fend off everyone else all the way through to the end.
QB commit Deshaun Watson will have and MRI on Saturday to determine whether he has an MCL tear or sprain. If it is a sprain he should be good after a month's rest but a tear would set him back a bit depending on the severity. Hope he is alright.
Also hearing we are going hard after 5* DE Lorenzo Carter (6'5, 240 Norcross GA) who has never reciprocated much interest up to this point (big on playing in the SEC). Still a long shot to land a visit, but this is where Tony Elliott needs to start developing into an elite recruiter. He is long and has the frame but still hasn't filled out much and has struggled to produce some this season. Florida imploding and Alabama having other targets higher on their board might make this possible.
ESPN has Billy Napier as their number one recruiter and Tommy Thigpen as number two. Double Sigh.
Showed my wife this video for the first time and loved her jaw dropping reaction when Woody winds up to try and punch a helmet. She couldn't believe a coach would be that senile.
Clemson football, "retiring" Hall of Fame coaches since 1978.