Ryan: First of all, we just heard that Richard Yeargin III decommitted from Notre Dame and will make his announcement on Signing Day. Do you think he'll end up in Orange and how does he fit in with the rest of the linebacker in our class and currently on the roster?
Yes I think he will end up in Orange and I think he doesn't fit in with the Linebacker class but that is because he should transition to playing the hybrid DE/LB role on the team (Jack). He was downgraded by some recruiting services from a 4* to a high 3* prospect because he struggled in space as a linebacker at the Army Bowl. He just isn't used to playing in space (playing in coverage) and hasn't done much of it during his high school career. He still could try to play linebacker at 6'3 and 225 pounds but he projects as a DE right now. Plus we have a need at DE for quality depth and are good right now at LB. I see Yeargin as a redshirt candidate who will contribute by his Sophomore season if he can put on the weight.
Ryan: Aside from QB Deshaun Watson, the most notable thing about this class may be the four four-star WRs it includes: Demarre Kitt, Artavis Scott, Kyrin Priester, and most recently Trevion Thompson. Obviously they won't immediately fill the void Watkins and Bryant leave, but what does this recruiting class say about our future at this position? Who do you think plays earliest and who do you think redshirts?
This is an interesting crop of talent. We have been absolutely spoiled at the wide receiver position since Sammy stepped on campus. You remember how much hype GHop was getting in the offseason but he didn't deliver on those expectations because the only freshman wide receiver I have ever seen deliver is Sammy. So I guess I want to start to temper some of those expectations for these incoming guys. Mike Williams played amazing for a freshman but no one steps in the way Sammy did.
That being said if Scott can get the mental part of the game down, he will be dynamite. His all-world teammate 2015 WR George Campbell is a physical specimen (I want to see his hands improve personally before anointing him the next Calvin Johnson however) and gets the publicity but Scott is dynamic. He reminds me of the overblown projections we heard about GHop. More quick than fast (but still plenty fast) but good hands, athleticism and runs better routes than you think. He will contribute next year.
I see Thompson redshirting. Kitt is physically ready and Priester had that extra year in prep school so I think it will be tough to redshirt either of those guys, especially with both already on campus. I'm not sure we know what we get exactly with Priester and what level he is at right now. I could see him playing a bit more than TJ Green did and being a factor in the return game. Spring ball will help us understand the WR picture more clearly.
Ryan: It looks like there are only two offensive linemen currently in this class? Do you see more commitments on the way? With our two best O-linemen graduating and both Giff Timothy and Patrick DeStefano leaving the game due to injury I am fairly concerned about this position. Is that concerned misplaced? Can you clear up the picture on the O-line for us?
I see more commitments in the 2015 class where it sounds like we will take at least 4 Olineman, if not 5 when it is all said and done. I would have said Cannon Smith was a likely candidate to grow into an offensive lineman but every time I see him he continues to lose the baby fat and develop into a guy who could actually stick at tight end.
I think you should be fairly concerned with the position simply because Clemson hasn't fielded a dominant offensive line in 15-20 years. We just don't make it a point of emphasis. Are things slowly improving--yes, but we are putting ourselves in another hole. I maintain that anytime you only sign two offensive lineman in a given year you are playing with fire. The averages get a little skewed because you start adding in a Jerome Maybank who starts out on the d-line and then gets moved to offensive line or even Shatley--it just isn't the best strategy.
I know the FSU comparison but some things need to be taken into consideration there as well. They moved some highly rated defensive lineman to offensive side of the ball like Cameron Erving among others--not exactly your Maybank sloppy seconds type players. They also grab high quality JUCO's to fill in the gaps when needed. We do not have that luxury just yet (I expect it in 2016 right now and then only a few players every couple of years). They also have signed more underrated, lean guys that they then develop whereas we take fat guys who don't cut the weight. We have been lucky that a guy like Brandon Thomas was able to stay healthy basically his entire career.
Is there reason for optimism in 2015? Yes, the savior of the offensive line cometh and his name is Mitch Hyatt (6'5 260). I expect him to announce at 7pm on Wed. for Clemson--a mighty fine way to kick off that class. With Noah Green and Hyatt, Clemson will push for Zach Bailey (6'5 300) from Summerville, SC, Mason Veal (6'5 295) from Charlotte, NC, and Chuma Edoga (6'4 275) from Powder Springs, GA, as well as Plant, FL Bama legacy Jake Fruhmorgen (6'5 260). Got to love the length of all of those players. Grab four of those guys and you have possibly the best Oline class in Clemson's history.
One of the players I'm most excited about in this class is the four-star TE out of Savannah, Milan Richard. Do you think he could see major playing time in 2014? What's his immediate impact and his long-term ceiling?
I think this depends on what our current guys at the position do. Leggett has the total package in terms of size, hands and speed to be elite--we saw that against Ohio State but he must get his head on straight. Cooper should not have been playing and I think you will see a much better product on the field when he is finally healthy. Seckinger has his pass catching role and could bulk up. Jay Jay can play that hybrid role out of the backfield. If a couple of those guys get their acts together (which would be the normal progression since most are young), I'm just not sure how many snaps are available to Richard right now. You don't burn the redshirt without knowing the player can get those 100 snaps.
That doesn't mean Richard isn't someone to be very excited about. You would like him to be a couple inches taller but he has a nice wingspan and should be able to play along the line, while still flexing out. That is the versatility Morris covets at the position. High ceiling but not sure he gets 100 snaps his freshman year. If others come along like they should then a redshirt should be considered.
What are some of the most intriguing names you'll be watching on signing day to see if they choose Clemson? Is there a player or two that could be a pleasant surprise on signing day like Mackensie Alexander was last season?
Right now I just don't see it. Unless the staff has gone super stealth mode and surprised us all you won't see much in the way of fireworks. I think Yeargin is supposed to be close to that guy. We stayed after some top national prospects, especially at WR but none of them panned out. We didn't get a Lorenzo Carter visit and the all over the place JC Jackson failed to be all over us. Still time but as of right now I don't see anything happening. Last year we actually had a pretty good feel that Alexander would commit to Clemson. But it was stupid to bank on it because of the unknowns (same situation as Featherston where it could have change overnight and no one would have been shocked). Nobody like that right now.
I know Alex Spence is walking on to the team now (great move by the staff--any time you can get a kicker to walk-on the better) but I think that is a move to sure up numbers and not any indication that someone special is coming tomorrow. Some lines are in the water but I don't expect anything to materialize right now unfortunately. CJ Fuller is not going to qualify and I expect 2-3 players to move on during the offseason so the numbers should be fine. Oglesby is also on the borderline between qualifying and prep school.
Just waiting on Andrew Williams and Cory Thomas. Will have my final takes on both in the recruiting day primer that will be up tonight as well as my thoughts on 2015 commit QB Tucker Israel and future commit Mitch Hyatt. Bonus nuggets on Alvin Kamara. But if you got other questions--then I got answers...so ask away!