I've been down with a kidney infection this past week, so I apologize for the radio silence. Our friends over at Tomahawk Nation have a rundown of major 2015/2016 prospects attending the game. (post will be continually updated throughout the weekend)
A few notes:
DJ Jones will also be in attendance with Swag Kelly. If Kelly went to FSU he would sit behind FSU's two future QBs. Deandre Francois and Deandre Johnson say hello--it's a non-starter.
2016 WR T.J. Jones is the big fish in the audience. He probably favors FSU but has legit interest in Clemson and will continue to be one of our major targets moving forward.
Another 2016 WR with an FSU offer is coming from Lower Richland, SC Larry Collins (6'2 185). Game will be big for Clemson's chance with both. Collins was at the USCjr last week and enjoyed the visit but did attend one day of the Dabo camp this past summer.
Warning** Matt Burrell rant: VA OT Matthew Burrell (6'5 310) will be attending. You may remember that Clemson was heavily in pursuit until we inexplicably cooled on him. Now that our offensive line is being exposed--missing so many assignments (everybody but especially Joe Gore) or out of shape (Beasley) or being blown off the ball by SC State lineman (Norton), Dabo can't hide behind the old I like my guys rhetoric. As I've said/hinted before, Clemson coaches cooled on Burrell not the other way around but there are not these huge red flags (I also just watched Auburn DE and former Clemson commit of multiple supposed red flags Elijah Daniel look pretty dominant, so I'm already upset--we could use him this year and next).
Alabama and Florida State seem to be tolerating the 'red flags' just fine. The reality is that some coaches got offended by petty things and the coaches thought they had a good enough class and liked the guys on campus so they passed. I get that sometimes personalities don't click but when you have a huge deficiency on your roster you cannot be this arrogant. One of the fireable offenses was not working out on a recruiting trip but according to Bud Elliott, our resident SBNation recruiting expert who has seen him play live, he is one of the best in the country. I don't have connections up in VA but everything I have seen confirms this.
Let us talk briefly about the 2015 class and then a few notes on 2016 targets.
I don't know what Jamie Newberg at 24/7 is talking about these days. He is a recruiting analyst based in the Tampa area who still takes every chance he gets to say that Ray Ray McCloud will eventually de-committ from Clemson and go to Florida. Florida's coaching staff doesn't believe it. Clemson's coaching staff doesn't believe. Ray Ray himself and his Dad don't believe it but it still gets put out there. Nothing to see but this will be the norm until early enrollment I am afraid.
Like I said when he committed, the McCloud's are plugged into the Florida recruiting scene. They have family at USF and close friends at UCF and UF. They aren't going on super sneaky official visits behind coaches backs or anything remotely like this. No red flags at all so far. Could a coaching change at UF potentially cause some ripples, especially if Clemson tanks? Sure, but Newberg hasn't said that at all. He has intimated that this is more of a behind the scenes conspiracy that will eventually come to the forefront. Usually Newberg is pretty good people but I'm still scratching my head on this one.
***Winston news: I do know that a lot of FSU recruits were asking what in the world is going on with Winston. Not anything really big but there is a lot of confusion. I don't think it impacts 2015 but might help us when we go up against FSU for a couple of these 2016 Florida wide receivers and players.
A couple of 2016 notes:
When 4* OL Sean Pollard (6'5 290) from Pinecrest NC was set to announce on Twitter his college choice a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was great news for Clemson. I said as much on Twitter because the news I had was that he was very open to Clemson and we were trending. I didn't know that he had visited Duke over the weekend and Duke pushed for a quick and early commitment. Multiple teams coaches were able to convince him to pump the brakes and extend his recruiting. Clemson got a visit last weekend and we pushed ourselves back towards the top of the pack.
Academics are a big deal here and he will make a return visit with more family to see everything academic related. I think experiencing the difference in gameday environments will be a big deal too. He was supposed to visit NC State this week.
Roswell GA's LB Tre Lamar (all of 6'3 230) is Brent Venables guy this next cycle. Venables absolutely loves him with good reason. Huge frame and extremely well developed at this stage. High 4* recruit who has been on campus multiple times now for a junior day and practice. He attended the SC State game as one of the main recruits the staff was wooing. He isn't anywhere close to a decision and will be recruited by all the powerhouses in the SEC but he is slated to return to Clemson for another game, perhaps as early as next week.
Not impressed at all by Sean Maguire when looking at his high school film. Do we know what we get out of the current version? Not really but he looks like a 5.5/5.6 rated low 3* prospect. That kind of QB shouldn't beat Clemson. I say that but Dylan Thompson and Hutson Mason shouldn't really either as career back-ups.
Maguire's deep ball sails--it isn't Proctor bad but he doesn't have the strongest arm. Bit of a wind-up. No idea on accuracy or reading the defense. He played in a Wing-T in high school but doesn't seem to be much of a dual threat and was categorized as a pro style QB coming out. A big question mark is when the FSU staff started preparing for an entire game of Maguire--how many specific packages can they get in place that he can handle or that will use other players talents. Trick plays, wildcats, etc. Going to be an interesting evening.
Obviously the O-line is the key to this game on offense. I will be looking to see if our TE blocking improves and how much more time Jay Jay McCullough gets (and if the invisible man routine continues for Leggett). We will see more Gallman and Choice in primetime.
On Defense I want to see Clemson shut down the run game with the front 7. Crawford and improved LB play should help set the edge and corral their running game. I'd like to see Kearse situationally at Nickel but I think the play of Mack Alexander will be a big part of the outcome of this game. Time for Beasley to get Beastly.
Oh and this is fascinating. Auburn's secret? Yep, you guessed it--juicing, but the beet variety. I'm not kidding, concentrated beet juice. Get on it S&C folks.