The day of big Dexter Lawrence's decision is upon us. Bryan Edwards may also decide. Huge day for Clemson recruiting this season so lets jump straight into it.
WR Diondre Overton (6'5, 195) is coming to Clemson. I know he recently went on an official visit to NC State, but nothing to see here. We will have Mike Williams back next year, but there is still a need for a tall receiver. The only knock on our current wide receivers is that we don't have that tall red zone threat. Peake and Cain kind of play that role but Overton could be a real threat. Overton has actually been a better DB on his high school team, picking off 11 passes this season, but WR is his college position (I've watched enough of his DB footage though and have been impressed). He still needs to fill out and add another 15-20 pounds and mature physically. He is not a burner and doesn't have elite wiggle in the open field but has the size that cannot be taught. He likes to stay in the 10-25 yard range, but rarely takes the top off the defense. He has progressed during his senior year as a WR and led his team to the state championship where they lost to Mallard Creek after upsetting Middle Creek in the semifinal.
DT Dexter Lawrence (6'4, 335) will decide between Clemson and NC State at 3:30pm. Throughout the process I have felt like Dexter was leaning toward Clemson but that he needed to be able to ultimately pull away from home. Dexter is homebody who just doesn't reveal much of anything to anybody. Signs point to both Clemson and NC State as his likely destination. My hunch is Clemson but there is no definitive proof backing that up right now.
I can tell you that both the NC State coaches and Clemson coaches don't know who he will pick as of this morning.
Reasons for State to be optimistic: Dexter wants to be close to home and close to his mom. Some have wanted to turn this into some negative character flaw about Dexter (no desire to be the best, killer instinct, etc.) and that is just dumb. Lawrence is comfortable in his own skin and off the field soft spoken, a great kid. He reminds me of a kid I knew growing up who just preferred to stay home instead of going out with a big group (nothing was wrong with him, it was just his choice).
State has also received double, triple the amount of visits over any other school. They also got the final word. Usually in recruiting you want to follow the visits, but I always caution against reading too much into the final visit. If you remember, Tre Lamar did the same thing with Auburn this year--going for one last courtesy visit to make sure you are making the right choice. Its not a deal breaker, but when combined with all the other unofficial visits it does mean something. State is selling building something close to home.
Reasons for Clemson to be optimistic: No one is able to tell recruits that you can't win a championship at Clemson. If this is a business decision then the answer is obviously Clemson. Ohio State received an official visit about a month ago and felt like Clemson would be his destination. Alabama also tried to lure Dexter and Saban went in-home last week but I don't see Bama as a factor at all (how often can you say that!?).
I believe that Clemson gained a lead after his extended visit to campus. He really enjoyed his time with the coaches and saw the legit facilities, but also the Clemson community (people knew who Dexter was across campus). The visit made a huge impression on him. Clemson is also not as far away as places like Ohio State and Bama. After that visit, Clemson felt like it was in a good position.
What does Clemson get? A defensive line that Clemson hasn't seen since the days of Chester McGlockton and company. Imagine a line with Pagano, Watkins, Wilkins, Huggins and Lawrence. Lawrence would see heavy rotation play next year. Just like Wilkins this season--you couldn't keep him off the field. That is a nasty defensive front that would tear through the ACC. The only things Lawrence really needs to improve is a bit of conditioning and strength that will come with a daily regiment and college S&C program. Make no mistake, Lawrence is future first round material.
WR/S Bryan Edwards might also decide today. The four star WR is a take at safety for Clemson but South Carolina is pursuing as a WR. He is not a bad WR prospect at all, but Clemson had other people higher on their board and doesn't have the room to take any more WR's. Edwards would potentially be the best WR on USC's campus, so this isn't a question of talent by any means. Edwards is coming off of his official visit to USCjr so the longer he waits after that visit, the better the odds for Clemson in this case. Muschamp is putting on the hard sell and wants him in their column.
Clemson's DB board should continue to expand and the coaches need to decide how many takes they will have. I think we need at least a CB and a Safety at the very least. I would like to keep Edwards away from USCjr, but I don't have enough information to really decide whether or not he is a good take at Safety. I think he has the athleticism to stick though.
OL John Simpson remains a wait and see prospect. Muschamp has made his full-on offensive push here and is cutting into what was a clear Clemson lead. We need to see how that push shapes up after some time. Georgia and Florida are also looming, trying to pull him out of state. If you remember Georgia was his childhood favorite and the new coaching staff will decide whether or not to really try and get him (they have EJ Price as a silent, which allowed Anchrum to commit to us). New staff and new possibilities. Simpson is going the distance and Clemson will go along with him.
Things are starting to leak out so I need to get this up already. I'll close with more positive developments with regards to LB Rahshaun Smith.
The former Clemson commit took is official visit over the weekend with his mother and godmother. The returns were excellent. Smith has maintained a wonderful relationship with Brent Venables throughout the process and understands the need Clemson has at LB. He could be plugged into the two deep immediately next year. Clemson has benefitted from other schools fading from the picture after Smith's de-commitment. LSU quickly exited after some early flirtation, which was solidified with the coaching kerfuffle with Les Miles. Auburn was a serious threat initially, but their poor on-field performance and Muschamp leaving showed their instability.
Maryland is the only other main competitor. D.J. Durkin had his chance to really turn the tide for Maryland during Smith's official visit there last week. Durkin kept Cory Robinson on staff, a man who has served as a mentor and father figure for Smith's development as a player. Maryland ended the official feeling good about its chances.
However, Smith views this as a kind of business decision. He wants to play football to help out his family and is set on making it to the NFL. It is the reason he left home to go to IMG Academy. The distance from Florida to Maryland, I think, has improved Clemson's chances. The person who really holds some sway in this decision is mom and she has always favored Clemson and the relationships with the coaching staff (as I have said early in the process). My information is that the bond between Clemson and Smith's family has only been augmented and solidified after the visit.
I said after his de-commitment that no one should freak out because Clemson was still in it. Obviously Smith wanted to work through the process (at IMG you have a lot of pressure to do just that) and Clemson coaches were patient. The season Clemson is having has certainly helped our position. This a Maryland/Clemson battle and Clemson now has a substantial, if not insurmountable lead.
CB remains the fluid position, but we have some quality options on the table. Good day to be a Tiger.