1-2 RB (not seen as a major priority right now with overall weak 2015 class)
5-6 OL (3 tackles)
5 DL (3 tackles)
4 DBs (2 corners)
As we transition to the future, let us not forget the recent past. Tennessee is making life tough for us on the recruiting trail (here we find out that Thigpen single-handedly, along with an assist from a police escort, plucked Malone from our grasp).
"Coach Thig laid a foundation of friendship that Josh and our family will have for many years," said Rebecca Malone, Josh's mother. "He is fun to be around as well as very informative about football and many other topics. Quotes from Coach Thigpen on Josh's official visit: 'Josh, I need you to commit, my daughters need a treehouse;' and on the home visit: 'I will answer the door and tell Clemson you are not at home.' He made a stressful process fun."
This weekend is the second of three major junior days that Clemson will hold. The first junior day was an embarrassment of riches for Clemson but this second day will be much more humble but not lacking its own star power.
The major visitor is OT Jake Fruhmorgan (6'5 280) from Plant in Tampa, FL (4* rating, quality school and competition, Rivals #80 overall). His recruitment has quietly heated up to the point that I would expect him to make his commitment very soon--certainly in a month, probably within two weeks but most likely after this visit. Here are my reasons for thinking he is going to go ahead and commit sooner rather than later. The official finalists are Alabama, Florida, Clemson, and Michigan but I consider this a Florida/Clemson battle. He will enroll early and wants the decision to be before the start of his senior season.
Fruhmorgan is not your average recruit either. His father, John, played for Alabama and went on to play professionally with the Miami Dolphins and even played for the London Monarchs (World Football League). One of John Fruhmorgan's best friends is former Syracuse and current Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone (Jake even calls him Uncle). Jake has soaked this all in and is really advanced in his knowledge of the game because of coaching--things like hand placement and technique--to go along with his quick feet and agility. Right now he is close to 280 but has the frame to easily add another 20-30 pounds. His only major weaknesses right now are strength and filling out his frame, which will come naturally in time.
The Fruhmorgan family also understand recruiting and aren't going to play any games. This is Clemson's big chance to continue the momentum from their earlier trip. To my knowledge, as stated before, this is a Florida/Clemson battle and Florida has many things working in their favor including location and Uncle Marrone thinking Florida would be a good fit (not sure he is pushing anything but Jake has said that Coach Muschamp has mentioned the connection and Marrone's positive attitude about Florida). Coach Muschump has a good relationship with the family. Florida has taken two quality offensive lineman from under Clemson's nose in the past two cycles with Cam Dillard and Nolan Kelleher. Both of those lineman grew up Clemson fans and were in our backyards but we slow played them a bit (Kelleher was a really late bloomer though) and it came back to haunt us. For all the early offers and commits we have pushed for I still have no clue why we didn't push harder for Dillard. Location is working in UF's favor to a certain degree but the familiarity with the coaching staff will be a major deciding factor. Florida had a change in coaching staff this offseason (Oline coach and OC) but they brought in former NFL coach Mike Summers. That relationship will be key for Florida.
Clemson also has momentum from their first visit where Fruhmorgan said he fell in love with Clemson and wanted to return. Florida got a three day visit a couple weeks ago and now it is Clemson's turn. Both mom and dad will be in town, accompanying Jake, for the entire three days. Basically this will be a compare and contrast visit with Florida and wherever Jake feels more comfortable will determine where he ends up. Jake really likes the country vibe at Clemson--the ability to hunt and fish and be outdoors, rather than the more urban environment with Florida. We certainly weren't on the radar initially and this weekend may be as much about selling the parents on Jake's ability to excel at Clemson as anything (having Coach Caldwell should help here).
I think Jake also wants to be done with the drama of recruiting and understands the process--when he commits I think that will be it (maybe Alabama could get back in it as the legacy but right now that doesn't even look like a possibility). You could make an argument that Florida has the edge but I think this thing is even with Clemson possibly getting this final visit. We are in a very good position. Mitch Hyatt and Jake Fruhmorgan (along with an improving Noah Green) already may be the best O-line class in Clemson's history. Clemson is also focused on landing OT's Austin Clark (6'5, 295) from Lexington, VA and Mason Veal (6'5 300) from Charlotte, NC (not at the junior day but also high priorities).
The other major junior day targets are 4* NC WR Juval Mollette (6'4 185) who is probably a North Carolina lean after visiting Carolina multiple times but he was at the FSU football game and will giving the Tigers a chance this weekend. He is not a burner/speed guy and comes from a background of playing basketball so he can jump and has good hands. His school struggles to get him the ball so he isn't advanced in route running or anything. 3* GA, Fairburn WR Jayson Stanley (6'3 205) will also be on campus and he is a hot name in recruiting circles right now--maybe the hottest prospect in Georgia the way he is climbing team boards. He just picked up legit offers from Auburn and Alabama. The proximity to Auburn will make this a tough sell for Clemson but we also offered his teammate OL Venzell Boulware and Stanley grew up loving Sammy Watkins.
Some defensive names are 3* GA CB JK Britt (5'11 190) who has a few major offers and just recently picked up an offer from Tennessee and GA DE Austin Bryant (6'5 250) who favors Georgia, FSU and Auburn but is former teammates with Clemson RB Adam Choice.
A Few Basketball Recruiting Notes
Rik Smits "The Dunkin' Dutchman" has a son. 2015 C Derrik Smits (6'11 215) from Zionsville, Indiana is visiting. The younger Smits has offers from Xavier and Butler but would be a great pick-up for Clemson. The main appeal Clemson has right now is Coach Winiecki's proven ability to develop big men. Rik Smits wants a program that will be able to develop his son as he continues to develop strength. Derrik is far from a proven commodity but has a ton of upside. Recruiting services can't really gauge a developmental prospect like Smits and favor the more athletic total packages. Rik wants a program that is going to try to go into the low post and can teach his son to really play the center position. Derrik's tweets say he is having a good time so far (yep totally Twitter stalking). Coach Win went to Indiana recently to scout Smits, so we have done our homework.
We will take 3-4 players in 2015. Probably a rough breakdown would be a PG (Juwan Evans is the main target), Center (Smits), a wing player and possibly a 4 (lots of names out there--Marcus Sheffield perhaps top rated possibility).
Lastly Grady Jarrett played all of last year with a torn labrum in the shoulder. Missed all of two or three plays because of it--that is a man. Had it scoped after the Orange Bowl.
Stephone Anthony is taking a yoga class to try and improve flexibility--hopefully this becomes a bigger trend with current and future players.