Shaq Lawson is officially a Tiger. He will help us on the D-line next year. Hargrave should help him in the classroom at Clemson. Lawson had a very productive season at Hargrave, racking up double digit sacks. Hargrave coaches liked him as more of a 3-technique, pass rushing DT so he gained a bit of weight for to play that position but he will be a DE at Clemson. I expect him to be in the 2-deep next season and competing for substantive playing time. Congratulations to Shaq!!
Time for my take on this week's official visits. This was the biggest recruiting week of the year for the staff because it is scheduled during the players end of season banquet where all of the football awards are handed out for the season. We had most of our committed prospects in for the visit like Gallman, Pagano, Dye, Kearse (who did not de-commit but someone posted it on his twitter account earlier) and O'Daniel. I don't think we will have any more de-commits before signing day from those already committed. The uncommitted prospects in town were Carl Lawson (#2 ranked player in the country, DE 6'2 220), Montravious Adams (DT 6'4), and Korrin Wiggins (DB, current UNC commit). Tyrone Crowder (OL) will be in this week for an official because his mother was sick last week.
Dabo dreamed up another great recruiting tool and deserves a lot of credit for the annual Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be given to a former Clemson player who has been out of school for at least 10 years. This re-connects former players with the campus, highlights achievements by former Clemson players, and serves as a great recruiting tool for recruits and families in the audience. How could you not listen to Brian Dawkins speak and not feel inspired? The returns this year are already extremely positive--many saying this was the highlight of the visit for them. I can see other programs copying this immediately. This is Dabo innovating and at his best--staying ahead of other programs in recruiting.
Another positive is that Dabo says he wants to sign 21 players for sure, with the possibility of going as high as 22,23, or 24. Music to my ears. I am fine with us signing 21 and will be very happy if that happens. Right now I think we will try to sign:
2 WR (Priester, Clark)
1 DT (Adams)
1 OL (Crowder)
1-2 DE (Lawson)
1-2 DB (Baker, Alexander, Wiggins)
1 QB (Asiantii Woulard)
Certainly some new names in that group we need to cover.
First lets talk about the officials. Reports are that they went about as good as could be expected. The banquet was a hit along with the new practice facility. If you have been in it, you know it has some impressive screens in there and is a really great additional facility. It will continue to give us a leg up on most other institutions not in the SEC.
Lawson got to campus a bit later than everyone else and missed the basketball game but he also stayed a bit later on Sunday with Montravious Adams. Lawson is down to Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Clemson and possibly UNC. The family indicated after the Under Armor game that Carl wanted to stay relatively close to home and all of those final schools fit those geographic standards. I haven't talked as much about Lawson because I didn't want to get hopes up too high without credible evidence that Clemson was in this. Lawson plays things extremely close to the vest and is almost standoffish with the media (quite refreshing after our Nkemdiche and Robinson saga's lately). He recently said that he wouldn't even have a press conference when he signs but will do it in his home with his parents on signing day. Gotta love that.
Carl Lawson is a game-changing recruit--every bit as much as Nkemdiche. Lawson fits best in a 4-3 defense and this year he had 26.5 sacks. In Georgia, against top notch D-1 level lineman, that is astounding. He would be at Clemson for three years and would start in the 2-deep immediately (if not start immediately). He just plays with a fierceness and violence that you don't see often. He would certainly help our offensive line in practice get tougher. The piece of the puzzle this class desperately needs is an impact, pass rushing DE who can play right away. That and an impact CB are the top priorities. We now have a real chance to land Lawson. I'm not ready to say we lead but if signing day were today I would put us at the top. Unfortunately there are at least two more visits that Carl will take and as we know a lot can change from now until then.
We have some things working in our direction. Specifically the relationship between Adams and Lawson. They both stayed a bit longer on Sunday hanging out at Clemson. It also sounds like it was a positive visit for Lawson and his family on the visit. Remember that Georgia blew it here by not offering. Carl reportedly grew up a Dawg fan but they never offered (neither did GT although his dad played for Tech), peddling that he wasn't a fit in the 3-4 scheme. This matters because ex-GA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner moved to Auburn to coach the D-line there. Publicly the Lawson's have said this won't factor into his Auburn commitment but I think this has to hurt Auburn some.
Ole Mi$$ is a factor yet again with his teammate and friend RB Peyton Barber going there and the speculation is that Tennessee may make a move with Barber, which would help their chances. Barber is a bigger deal than Jenkins. Ryan Jenkins is a friend but not near the level of Barber. But I like our chances with Adams and hopefully we can finally beat out these SEC schools like Ole Miss. It also doesn't hurt that DE Dee Liner also de-committed from Auburn recently.
Montravious Adams had another great visit and it looks like his family is really in Clemson's corner now. That is big. He just visited Florida last week and that should always scare you but I still have this as a Georgia/Clemson battle with Florida at third. I maintain that Clemson has the advantage here and that will really help with landing Lawson. He will still visit Georgia and possibly Bama and Auburn. Watch out for the Auburn visit because that would be Adams visiting potentially with Lawson to Auburn. Right now I don't think that visit happens. He will definitely announce on signing day however.
Korrin Wiggins (DB 6'1, 185, UNC commit) is an interesting situation. He remains committed to UNC and might still visit Ohio State. He will announce on signing day his ultimate decision. Venables told him he is desperate for DB help (Venables is not happy with our DB talent level, especially our current CB's hips) and Wiiggins certainly enjoyed the visit. Don't have a good feeling yet whether he will flip or not--the Dabo in-home visit will be very important here.
So the new names that have emerged. Clemson has expanded the board at WR and we are going after a bunch of different players. NC State commitment WR Kyrin Priester (6'2 185) is visiting for an official this week and is the most likely next commitment. He now has a committable offer. He visited in the spring and is friends with Wayne Gallman (also Nkemdiche and Kamara). If Clemson had offered earlier he probably would have jumped but the staff went with Ryan Jenkins. Priester has a relationship with DB coach Mike Reed who was his primary recruiter at NC State. I think this one gets done this weekend.
I already mentioned WR James Clark (5'11 170) earlier. He is a great student with a 3.9 GPA and a 1620 on the SAT (wow!!). Apparently we will know if he is visiting us or Ohio State after Scott has an in-home with him tonight. Urban Meyer loves our offer board it seems. He will also visit Florida (I know, looking to get their 5th or 6th WR commitment--crazy...they like to tell recruits that other commits won't qualify which is so bogus because everyone qualifies at UF), which is close to home. Would love to land this kid's speed. Wish we were in on him earlier but he has taken off as a recruit after a solid senior season.
Asiantii Woulard (6'4 205) dual-threat QB is also coming for a visit. He might also visit UCLA the week after. He is a legit dual-threat QB who beat out Max Browne and Christian Hackenburg for top honors at the Elite 11 camp. He has great speed and a quick delivery. I really like this move because with Morgan Roberts (who I hoped would never have to play real minutes) transferring to Yale to be a politician or something, we are now really thin at QB. Tony McNeal is also a player who could potentially transfer. Obviously 5* 2014 QB commit DeShaun Watson is a player you want to keep happy but he is going to take visits to other places (he will visit with 2014 WR DeMarre Kitt Ohio State unofficially very soon) and might follow Morris if the Chad does leave next year. If we can land Woulard we protect ourselves and land a great player--not some scrub throw-away offer if we get burned next year. This is not banking on the future--grab talent now. Legit 4.4/4.5 speed and a quick release. I love this offer.
Overall a good recruiting weekend and I am happy the staff is pushing to sign more players than originally expected. We have more options at WR than the two listed above Jeff Badet is a friend of Woulard that could visit and Taj Williams is another name along with Jonathan Howard. Look for Clemson to go after some other 3/4* wide receivers if Clark does not visit. Please ask questions in the comments.