For awhile now we have said that Garrett Williams (6'4, 225) from Orlando, Florida was the best possibility to commit to Clemson. Our friends over at TomahawkNation felt like they were also in a good position so we tempered our expectations here a bit but have consistently felt like Clemson was in the lead position. However, what was thought to be weeks of deliberation stretched out to be months, which didn't leave us feeling as good about the initial predilection that Williams would ultimately end up a Tiger. The longer this played out, the better FSU felt about its chances, especially with their built in support. But Stanford also posed a late threat as they surged towards the end of the process. All of that is coming to a head today at 1:30 Eastern when he will make his announcement. Let us chart the potential/expected commitment.
I have been MIA the last month but certainly a lot of action needs to be discussed. Clemson recruiting is heating up and will continue in the month of May. Right now lets say that CB commitment Juwuan Briscoe was a diamond in the rough that Clemson had stashed away and didn't want to share (Ohio State, predictably, tried to get in late after finding out about Briscoe--they wanted to evaluate him in camp before offering). Clemson is officially done at CB this cycle with Chalmers and Briscoe. Briscoe has been all Clemson since the beginning but OT Zach Giella was a late trending pick-up. Clemson was initially his number two pick but with LSU filling up, Clemson was able to impress the family enough to get the commitment. DT Sterling Johnson was more a reflection about how Clemson felt about its chances with higher rated prospects like Tim Settle (FSU or Tennessee lean), Trenton Thompson (heavy Georgia lean), or Shy Tuttle (UNC lean). Clemson didn't want to continue too long without a commitment from a DT, despite Johnson being slightly lower rated on the board. He wanted to commit after trying to commit to Tennessee and being slow played by them and Clemson went ahead and accepted.
Garrett Williams, on the other hand, has always been on the top of Clemson's board at TE and really was the only prospect that Clemson was considering. Clemson sees Williams as being able to play the H-back role that Chad Morris covets in his offense, a versatile weapon coming out of the backfield who can catch like a flexed out WR, block on the line and occasionally run the ball. Williams is athletic enough to do all of those things. He will need more time to add muscle to his frame and continue to make gains but he should be a weapon for Chad Morris.
This seemed like an FSU/Clemson battle for much of Williams recruitment but a late visit to Stanford really had them squarely in the mix. As stated above, part of the delay in committing has more to do with Stanford pushing Williams interest than FSU reasserting itself. The academics were a bring draw for Stanford to Williams. It seems that distance and the strong relationships with Clemson coaches proved too much for the Cardinal to overcome.
Clemson's religious atmosphere absolutely played a role here and Coach Swinney's reputation helped cement that relationship. Clemson was on Williams the longest and the hardest of all the other schools. We targeted Williams early and put in that early work to build a strong relationship. Florida State fell behind somewhat because they brought in a new Tight Ends coach, Tim Brewster, who had to build a relationship with Williams here at the end. The Williams family is largely FSU boosters, some prominent ones, but they allowed him to go where he felt like he should go. Dayne Williams played fullback for FSU back when Brad Scott was the offensive coordinator. The Scott family deserves a ton of credit in this recruitment, especially Jeff Scott who forged the relationship.