Clemson had been riding in the drivers seat for most of that time period. However, after an official visit to Georgia the Bulldogs were squarely in the lead. The combination of a hard sell from Coach Swinney and the upcoming defection of Arden Key to Georgia really helped Clemson regain the momentum.
We have been critical around here of some of the end game losses of high quality talent. I wouldn't even say critical--more just disappointed--but in all of those cases we were going into the backyard of someone else. We had Josh Malone until an illegal police motorcade, we had Mount Adams (and Lawson) until Auburn and Gardner unleashed the Bagmen. Losing Huggins would have been a serious gut punch since he is here in SC and eliminated the Gamecocks early on. Kudos to the staff for investing all the time in this one and making it pay off despite slipping in the end. I really liked the move to save Coach Hobby until the day of the announcement for his visit with the family.
Huggins wanted to come to Clemson because he felt he could step in right away and contribute. The opportunity is definitely there for the taking. He wants to have a chance to start out as a DE--Clemson is giving him that opportunity. We sold him on education and Coach Hobby being such a constant force was big. He has a ton of familiarity with Clemson and Mama was in our corner from the start. While Dad was a strong SEC/Georgia supporter--I don't see anything being an issue going forward. Albert had friends on the team like fellow OW product Jadar Johnson and walked around like he owned the place most of the time when he was on campus. Multiple camps as a Sophomore and Junior really built the relationship.
How good of a player is Bert Huggins? He is a consensus top 100 recruit and high 4* player. Usually rated from 50-75, he will play in the Shrine Bowl and Army All-American game. I'm looking forward to seeing him against some better talent in one-on-one situations. He needs to work on his ability to get off the ball quicker and maintain good pad level. He gets to high at times and will need to develop pass rush moves if he is going to stick at DE. Needs to continue to add strength to his lower body. Here is a network analysis from recruiting peeps at SBNation on Huggins.
Is Bert a DT or a Strongside DE? First, right now it doesn't really matter. We used the DE position as a selling point and it paid dividends. He is 6'3 and 280 pounds right now, which is ideal for a 3-tech DT but a bit short for a DE without the elite quickness of a Vic Beasley. He will need to continue to transfer some bulk into lean muscle if he wants to stay at DE. I see him being able to step in at the 3-tech and carve out a spot on the 2-deep during the season if he uses his hands better on the interior. If he stays at DE he could still play in the 2-deep at SS DE but it would be out of necessity and not because he was exactly ready (yes I am really afraid of our DE depth). Again, we will know more about his level of play after these bowls appearances. Huggins will enroll early, which will also help his development and decide between DT and DE.
The commitment of Huggins will in no way impact the recruitment of Christian Wilkins. Wilkins is a DT (either nose or 3-tech) and Huggins being recruited at DE makes it even less of a concern although Wilkins doesn't care much about depth chart. I will say I am cautiously optimistic about Wilkins. He is on his last official visit with Ohio State and we will know more after that. Right now I would give Penn State the slight edge with Clemson in a great position. Ohio State being the kind of darkhorse contender right now (probably will change after the official but not sure how much).
***Couldn't help but mention how bad things are getting for USCjr. The fanbase had actually convinced itself that they were going to land Coach Boom Muschamp and save their recruiting class by naming him Coach-in-waiting. Muschamp was deciding between being the head coach at a lesser school like Houston, waiting for a better offer to come, or doing the Auburn DC job as the highest paid DC in the nation. The Gamecock Scout site got trolled hard with Burton Fowles publishing a piece that said Muschamp to Carolina was a "Done Deal". Ouch.
USC's vaunted recruiting class is in shambles--more than I thought it would be when I was talking about how they were in trouble a couple months ago. The rumors that the defensive staff will be sent packing--propagated further by the Muschamp to USC talk only makes this worse. They just lost two quality O-lineman (JUCO's 4* Paris Palmer to Penn State and Milton to TCU who could have provided depth immediately on their Oline), along with fighting to hold on to Sherrod Pittman and keep him from Florida. After Key leaves to Georgia, he would be their highest rated player. They really need to hold on to JUCO DE's Dante Sawyer and Marquavius Lewis to have any semblance of a pass rush next year. Fields (could defect with coaching change), Bailey (not going anywhere), and Wideman (solid player who couldn't get in last year with grades) are their next best players. Not much help on the way for a struggling team.
Spurrier saying that he would retire in 2-3 years has been a recruiting public relations nightmare. Everyone is hammering them with recruits on this. Continuity on the staff is something that is important with recruits and especially parents of recruits.