A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that our main competition for Dalvin Cook looked surprisingly like it was coming not from Florida State, Miami or South Florida but from the Florida Gators.
No team has had Clemson's number more than the Gators lately (other than Ohio State). We battled for months against Florida and lost DeMarcus Robinson but this one stings a whole lot more. Muschamp is a great recruiter and I think they took a big step forward in terms of team recruiting when they grabbed Joker Phillips. Make no mistake about it, Cook is one of the most dynamic running backs in this class and he will not be easily replaced. It is a long way until signing day and now Florida is the team with all the pressure on them and the bullseye but we will look elsewhere for now. Clemson fans should not throw any player under the bus who could still sign with us but I don't see Cook turning back anytime soon. Hopefully we will be able to get him back on campus but the staff is turning the page (and has been for the past couple of weeks).
Now the question becomes who will we get to replace Cook?? Remember we are going to sign two RB's this class and we have Oglesby already committed. CJ Fuller is the obvious choice the Tigers will increase the pressure on. The Easley product grew up a Clemson fan but wants to play RB in college. Clemson has been recruiting him as kind of a utility player who could see the field as a slot WR/DB/RB but may begin to sell him on just playing RB. NC State has been after him the hardest. While Fuller is a fine player and one I wouldn't have minded as a complimentary player to Oglesby and Cook, I'm a bit concerned with just taking Fuller and Oglesby.
I think they are both high 3*/low 4* type talents and would take some time to develop at the next level. Clemson needs to continue the Davis, Spiller, Ellington tradition by landing a top level, game changing talent at RB. Cook would have been that so its tough to see that hit to our talent pool.
We will go after Elijah Hood (Charlotte, NC) and pull out all the stops to get him back on campus. Coaches have already been in contact and Pearman won't be on an island with this one. The lead for Notre Dame is pretty big at this point though and North Carolina is a solid second so this would be a monumental turn of events to land Hood. I think it would take a big dip at Notre Dame this season plus selling Hood on our academics to even begin to turn him around. There have been minor rumblings that Hood might want to play a bit closer to home so the possibility is slim but not entirely out of the question.
Stanley Williams (5'8/9 185, Bethlehem GA) recently backed off of his Georgia commit (and he never really talked like a Georgia commit to begin with) and is open to a number of schools, including Clemson. He recently said on Twitter that he is visiting this weekend but that is very preliminary and we will see if it actually comes to fruition. The word on Williams is that there are multiple red flags and character concerns but the kid has serious speed. A legit 4.4 40 (clocked supposedly at 4.39) and his speed shows up on tape.
Adam Choice (5'9 190,Thomasville GA) is the cousin of GT players Tashard Choice and Joe Burns and awhile back had Clemson running third to Georgia and Florida. Georgia is loaded at RB and this opening could work in Clemson's favor. We still need to get Choice on campus however.
Joe Mixon (6'2 208, Oakley CA) is an unlikely target because he is all the way in Cali but we have made his top 16 and he is a dynamic big back. Donte Thomas-Williams (6' 210) is a big back closer to home (and a much more likely option). Despite the hyphenated last name, Donte visited Clemson last month and we are in his lead group. Nick Chubb (Cedartown, GA) is the other big name on the board but he has offers from every major team and Derrell Scott (Havelock, NC) is a major South Carolina lean but I can see us stepping up our recruitment of him as well. He is probably the second best back out of North Carolina behind Hood.
Losing Cook is a big hit but it is better to have this happen now than later on in the recruiting cycle. Florida is the hot team right now along with Ohio State but a win against Georgia and another strong season will put us right back up there. We do need to capitalize on Spiller and Sammy to keep our Florida pipeline hot for the next generation of players however. Cook would have been that player.
***A quick basketball recruiting note: I know I don't post enough about roundball recruiting but after the departure of Sullivan I posted in the comments that we would be after Sidy Mohammad Djitte (6'10 F/C) and it appears that he will be visiting this weekend, along with commits Ajuwka and Rooks. He is not a skilled offensive player but can rebound and defend. Not a bad player to pair with Nnoko heading forward. I think he would be a solid, quality pick-up ( not spectacular by any means, but solid) for Brownell.