Tough day for the Tigers on the recruiting trail. Not going to sugar coat it. We have taken some blows and are not finishing as strong as we all would like right now. Two weeks ago we were flying high, rebounding with tremendous effort after losing our best offensive player in DeMarcus Robinson to Florida. Well you have got to finish in this business and for a second straight year we are missing on guys in the end--very important players. In the end the big boys with the big guns and money come out to play (this is one of the reasons Dabo smartly and strategically likes to wrap up classes early or take silent commits).
First we are officially out of it with WR James Clark. Dabo is not even doing an in-home visit. Clemson was leading and Clark told coaches after his visit to Clemson that he was likely to sign with the Tigers. Enter Urban Meyer. I have a feeling we are going to continue to hate Urban (who has a keen interest in the Carolinas and Georgia) on the recruiting trail in 2014. There is a block of players (many visiting this weekend) in the 2014 class that have either the Tigers or the Buckeyes at the top of their lists. I know the weather has been crazy in Tigertown this week but it is -20 degrees windshield throughout the Midwest. It should be unfit for living.
Clark wanted academics but he also really likes Meyer and knows that even if the OC goes--it is still Meyer's offense. You just don't have that with Dabo. So again the perception of stability hurt us and we have to adjust to that recruiting pitch that seems to be impacting some players thinking. I think this is a big loss when you consider that Green is the player we probably got to replace him. Williams, Priester, Green. Not what was expected of this WR class.
Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Safety, 2014, TX) has decided to de-commit but this is more of a mutual thing, out of respect for Dabo. He still has Clemson as his leader but will look around/take visits. He is getting offers from lots of big programs like Texas A&M. Dabo is going to stick to his definition of commitment but it sounds like he is going to be more proactive this cycle (without Nkemdiche) in enforcing it. It is always going to be tough to recruit kids out of Texas. Of course I think we should totally pursue Dyan but I personally think Texas is too far unless there is an inside, preexisting relationship with a recruit generally. It has done nothing for us the past two cycles.
Carl Lawson is not sounding very positive either. At one point we were really in the thick of this thing. We had our last in-home visit today but there are a lots of negative signs popping up. The visit to GT was curious but Coach Pelion, the recently hired former D-line coach at Auburn, and Coach Roof are both excellent recruiters. So that is certainly worrisome but the latest is that Auburn is rumored to be back in the lead position with Tennessee now out. Again, Clemson was once in a great position here and the standard line has been that the Auburn visit was more about checking some last things out and confirming the decision. This was thought to be a UT/Auburn battle but now it seems Auburn despite feeling the heat to blow up their entire staff because of supposed impending NCAA rules violations are back at it again. Still a fluid situation but one where the big players are converging.
Some positives: We are solid with Baker and Crowder. Cautiously optimistic about Alexander who is not taking a last visit. Again need to watch out for Auburn here though--I think they are our main competition.
2014 Visitors This Week (good looking crop of prospects overall on campus)
DeShaun Watson QB GA
DeMarre Kitt WR GA
Elijah Hood RB/LB (Clemson has offered as LB) NC
Jeb Blazevich TE NC
CJ Fuller RB/DB SC
Kevin Crosby TE/LB SC
Taylor Hearn OL SC
Jacob McCrary WR FL
Raekwon McMillan LB GA
DJ Smith CB GA
Planning on updating this within the same storystream--see how that goes. Lets all wallow in self pity in the comments (or boundless optimism if you so prefer).