We did it. We finally landed an elite level DE with this class.
Xavier Kelly (6'5, 255-260) is exactly the type of player Clemson needs for the future. He has the athleticism and size to play either the Weakside or Strongside positions. He is very versatile and can play very well in space. He has elite speed for his size so he could stick at the weakside and be a pass rushing threat. The guy can dunk a basketball with ease. He has a really big wingspan, those long arms you love with a pass rusher.
It looks like he has the frame to get in the 270 range pretty easily. He already carries his 260ish pounds very well and could hold the point of attack on the strongside. With our need at Strongside this is probably where he ends up. We can thank Brent Venables for another amazing draw from a distant location. Venables was the one to first initiate a substantive dialogue and visited Kelly during the Spring evaluation period. That kind of commitment from your Defensive Coordinator can pay huge dividends. Kelly was ready to string his recruitment out until signing day but the All-In Cookout made such a difference that he decided to end his recruitment earlier than anticipated.
Xavier did de-commit from Kansas State, but this was before his stock took off and he rightfully wanted to look at all his suitors to make a more informed decision. In fact, this is exactly how I would have run my own son's recruitment. Get them locked in early (so you at least can get them into college) and then if a lot of offers come, you have the right to re-evaluate.
Kelly is still a very raw prospect, who plays against suspect competition in high school. He will have a bit of a learning curve in college as he adjusts to the speed of the game and improves his technique. Right now he doesn't have a lot of polish as a pass rusher and relies too much on a few moves, but there is no better place than Clemson to improve technique under Coach Hobby. What absolutely does translate are his ability to play in space at his current weight and his athleticism. A lot of highly rated DE's are playing around 220-230 in high school and have to adjust to adding weight. Some of them can gain the weight and maintain their athleticism but there is guesswork, which you don't have with Kelly.
Kelly fills the void left by the departure of Ebo. Clemson is probably done at DE and will just wait to oversign at the position with someone like Antonneous Clayton (this will ultimately be a staff/Dabo decision). Now the focus turns to offensive line where we have finished second for a lot of high-end recruits this cycle.
For the moment, we should just savor the knowledge that we just filled one of our biggest needs in the coming future.