Consider this the open thread for McCloud's commitment tonight at 6:30pm--its going to be an entire half hour thrill ride of a show.
I was going to write an entire love letter to my man crush this cycle--I felt like we were drifting apart. I was going to tell him all about the struggling UF offense, the NFL receivers produced under Urban Meyer at UF--not Muschamp, and his inevitable firing. The careers in jeopardy of Bud Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood (sure they could turn it around but would be primed for NFL careers if they were at Clemson after the season). Chris Leak as a wide receivers coach? Etc. Etc.
But I won't do that because I feel like Clemson is going to tip the scales and come out slightly on top.
It seems that the wheels are moving back towards Clemson within the recruiting community. As I posted to Twitter last night--I feel good with sticking to our original information that we posted at the beginning of summer that Ray Ray McCloud would ultimately be a Tiger. We have been the only site to go on record as believing McCloud would commit to Clemson. Rivals has always quietly said that they thought that this wasn't a slam dunk to Florida like everyone was saying--they deserve credit. The CrystalBall thingy on 24/7 (which is such a cop out, really you can just guess with no consequence and then just change at the last minute like Bartow is and be the hero--what?) is trending Clemson--today as in this morning. And to be clear, I was waffling in my last update--wanting to chart the path to Clemson but afraid that Florida had too many arrows pointing in its direction.
Why did I back off in the first place? This feels exactly like Raekwon last cycle where Clemson had a clear lead, practically a silent commit but that dissipated over time, only to have Clemson recover but get smacked at the finish line. We have been burned before (Raekwon McMillan and Montravious Adams--really only those two) where we felt like those guys would commit to Clemson. In Adams case it was that he had made multiple silent commitments and Clemson came up just short when the band was rounded up by Lawson and company for Auburn. With McMillan it was the late, super late with Urban Meyer snatching the lead out of the coaching staff's hands. Perhaps you could add Josh Malone to the list with Butch bringing the illegal police escort, which swayed him considerably.
With McCloud he has definitely tried to keep things a mystery and play with the media and fans a bit. Everyone gets bent out of shape about it (see the disdain for Mack Alexander as a prime example) but I am ok with really. Media types make a living off of being right and don't take kindly to being led astray and fans are irrational. I don't think a recruit should ever lie to anyone, I'm not advocating that, but with the way that these kids get hounded 24/7 by seriously intrusive people--I'm alright with their chains getting yanked a bit. The McCloud's have put out some serious misdirection and built the desired suspense--a recruit should be able to say where he wants to go without it being plastered all over the place as a foregone conclusion.
So why all the consternation? Florida is a serious threat and it would be silly to disregard them as a major player. I think they did lead for a time. McCloud wanted to go to FNL's. That was three days ago and by all reports he had a great time. Their coaches have seen McCloud as a near lock.
The other school in the running is UCLA (Maryland is a placeholder not in serious contention). He has family on the west coast but like I said initially in the comments...Nah...its too far away from family--not buying this beautifully laid smokescreen (everyone seemed to fall for this one).
So what makes me confident as we approach the final hours? Clemson coaches are confident. The most important piece of the puzzle I think is the relationship with RB Coach Tony Elliott. Remember back to the beginning of the recruitment when I said that there was a connection to the family through Elliott's time at Furman--I think that holds significant weight at the end of the day. Deon Cain is still his friend and lastly I got a tip that a certain Clemson President is not lacking in optimism today (that man has been a home run hire, at least in regards to recruiting--my goodness).
Could this be a final smokescreen to take everyone off the Gators scent? Possibly, but I'm putting on the big boy recruiting britches today and going 'all in' with McCloud. Does anyone know for sure right now--no--but I have enough signs that make me optimistic its Clemson.