Late last night, Clayton HS (NC) defensive tackle Sterling Johnson (6'5 288) committed to Clemson without having discussed it with Coach Swinney. They finally did discuss it and Clemson accepted the commitment. Johnson is currently rated the #22 DT nationally, but is unranked in-state. Johnson has an impressive offer list, but I get the feeling many of these are just verbals and place-holder offers, namely Alabama, FSU, Florida, UNC, and Texas. Johnson had attempted to commit to Tennessee earlier yesterday and UT turned him down, telling him that they would not take a commitment, and only wanted him to come to camp there next month before accepting the best of the DTs they saw. Johnson didn't care for Butch Jones' slow play treatment and instead picked Clemson, who he felt he had a good relationship with, especially Mike Reed.
Dan Brooks did scout him personally and approved the offer with Venables, and Coach Brooks in particular has money in the bank with us, so we won't be tremendously alarmed by this seemingly-average player. What I see in Johnson that is great is the size, he can move, and his first step is very good.
What worries me most is his motor. The first thing I look at in a big guy on the defensive line is the motor, and Johnson's is missing a cylinder. Guys who don't play nasty and mean inside don't progress like the ones that do. This is a big red flag for me. His technique is just bad. He's just a 6'5 300lb guy who is bigger than everyone else he plays against. I don't see him as an upgrade over what we have on campus right now based on the limited film available, and the competition there in Western/Central NC is not that good. He hasn't impressed in camps thus far.
Johnson is the 12th commit and 2nd DT take for this class, along with Gage Cervenka. His official recruiter is Mike Reed. lemson intends to take 1 more up front, and is pegging Albert Huggins as a SDE, not a 3-tech. Personally I would've held out and taken a higher quality player with this 2nd take. Cervenka is a bit of a project, along with some we took in the last class. Clemson needs to fill the 2-deep we're about to lose with good quality, but what we have coming up doesn't give me warm fuzzies. All of them need serious coaching and development. I would've liked very much to get one War Daddy and develop the rest.
This afternoon, Augusta Christian's (GA) RT Zach Giella committed to Clemson. He's a ginger, so he has no soul, but he's 6'5 300lbs and its not bad weight. He actually played baseball, basketball and ran track until this year. Giella has no Rivals rating, but looks like a 3-star player. I'm fine with this take with what we have already committed. Giella has offers from LSU, Ole Piss, SC, GT and Michigan.
Giella looks like a good project that could contribute heavily or even start someday, so I'm surprised he has no ratings. His feet aren't completely fluid like Hyatt or Fruhmorgen but he moves well. He gets his hands on you and can ride you to the dirt. He does tend to screw up when he gets too tall and the defender gets in on him, but I think this is correctable. Its common when youre this tall to let someone under your pads. He also has some issue with the inside moves like Gifford Timothy did, but he moves better than Timothy. He plays in a run-oriented system and comes off the ball well, so transitioning to our more-2-pt-stance could be a problem for him.
Giella, at 6'5-6'6, is a RT all the way, and the 4th OL take, hallelujah. Unfortunately this take may mean we let OG Zack Bailey go to SC, but I'm hopeful Clemson won't pull off a good in-state player. Giella was recruited by The Chad.