What to expect on signing day eve?? Certainly not the fireworks we had last year but that isn't always a bad thing because we got burned pretty badly by Carl Lawson and Mont Adams (although Mackensie Alexander was a fun ride). We have our #1 rated QB already on campus and the big drama with Malone and McMillan are done. So who do we have left.
DE Andrew Williams (6'4 250) from GA took a visit to Georgia over the weekend despite this being a two way battle with Auburn and Clemson at the top for at least a month now. This was all newly minted DC Pruitt pushing AW to take the visit and is a sign that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. Georgia says they are now in the picture and family are pushing him to stay at home. However this is still close to 50/50 between Clemson and Auburn (too little too late for Georgia but they have positioned themselves as the dark horse). I give the edge to Auburn--he was ready to commit after the Auburn visit and that is why he cancelled the trip to Ole Miss. He came to Clemson out of respect to the coaching staff and Coach Hobby especially.
I think Williams had a great visit at Clemson that helped us close the gap but I have seen no evidence that puts us ahead of Auburn. One of Clemson's main selling points was their use of the 4-3 and that Williams was the only defensive end they were taking in this class (he has been at the top of the board). Auburn has done a magnificent job of mitigating that sales pitch. They have used Carl Lawson specifically as an example of a guy coming in and playing a ton as they rotate quality depth. Williams is being sold as the next Lawson to Dee Ford. Lawson was his player host and they made a nice connection. Williams doesn't see the numbers at Auburn as a problem any more.
Clemson countered on their official with former Georgia recruit Corey Crawford, which was a good move as the two have a nice rapport. Williams likes the family atmosphere at Clemson and hopefully Georgia was pushing him away from Auburn on the official but Andrew is playing it very close to the vest and has yet to tip his hand to either coaching staff. Got to give the slight edge to Auburn. Our main selling points aren't cutting through as strongly and Auburn tries to play up the family atmosphere angle as much as we do--complete with fishing with Gus at his home. Would be a definite disappointment to finish second for another defensive lineman in this class.
The next player on the list is AL DE Cory Thomas (6'5 275). Here is what I know so far and why I think he will ultimately sign with us tomorrow. After Thomas visited Clemson on his official visit this thing was done and the staff felt like he would commit on signing day. He was even going to cancel his official visit to Tennessee after a Mississippi State failed to really grab his attention. We have mom on our side--big time. Coach Swinney has connections to the family from recruiting Thomas' nephew when he was a WR coach.
Here you tip your cap to Coach Swinney--the family was dealing with the loss of cancer and Swinney kept in contact (it was Cory's much older sister who died) and genuinely cared even after the nephew signed with Auburn back in 2007. So mom wants Cory to go to Clemson but Tennessee can never be counted out these days.
Despite having a class with about 50 players--I think 34 or 35 right now, they are still trying to tell Thomas he can come in and compete and play. Tommy Thigpen is a master recruiter and can make it rain. Butch Jones is an aggressive recruiter who will pull out all the stops just like he did with Josh Malone and the police escort so you can't count them out. I still feel like Clemson is on top right now and that Thomas will ultimately fall to Clemson.
Cory is a big body at 6'5 and he will continue to fill out that frame. He will start as a strongside defensive end but could easily grow into a 3-tech DT or an Offensive Tackle if he can't crack the two deep. With so many seniors along the defensive line this year, I am glad we are getting someone. Thomas wasn't a top priority but he isn't some fallback player either. He plays in the heart of Alabama so he isn't some diamond in the rough TJ Green type player--Bama and Auburn passed him over but he is a solid option at this stage of the recruiting game.
Richard Yeargin III (6'3 230) is also going to sign with Clemson. There was some rumblings about Texas possibly getting a visit because Yeargin called the wrong number to a Rivals Texas guy but he was never going anywhere. His coach quickly squashed those rumors and there was never any real substance to it. Yeargin will start as a LB but will grow into playing a hybrid weakside defensive end/LB (Bandit or Jack position).
Yeargin will sign at 9am.
Thomas will sign at 11am.
Williams will sign at 2pm.
Dabo will most likely give his talk about all the Clemson recruits (after Williams decides) at 2:30 or 3pm.
Kicker Alex Spence will walk-on so he won't sign tomorrow but he will sign the financial aid papers and be talked about with the team. Really like his commitment to Clemson already.
While the staff has not pushed as hard as I would have liked on some players in the 2014 class and gone after a few reaches, we will soon see that 2015 is going to take off. Based on the numbers and caliber of prospects coming in this could be a top ten class. I see the 2014 class as more of a top 15-20 type class when all is said and done but 2015 could be special. I think in the next six months you will see most of the class signed and in place and some fireworks coming in the next couple of months (if not sooner).
This is evidenced by 2015 OT Mitch Hyatt (6'5 265) committing tomorrow at 7pm and high 3* QB Tucker Israel (6'0 1/2 190) from Orlando FL. Israel basically committed on the spot after being offered. He wanted to secure his spot because the commitments are coming. We will sign two QB's in 2015. He should not be the premiere QB in the class but he doesn't overshadow or scare away any competition, so he makes a nice complimentary piece. The knock is obviously the height but he has a strong arm, good mobility and can make all the throws necessary for this offense. Chad Morris thought enough of him to pull the trigger initially and then stand by the offer when Israel committed right away.
Get rid of all these grayshirt offers and I will be a happy man. I'm ready to put 2014 to bed and move on to 2015. I will be on all day tomorrow to talk shop in a recruiting open thread.