This is a no frills, straight shot of where we stand with Gary recruiting--everything I know at this point. Rashan Gary is the number one player in the country and I expect he will be on Clemson's campus this weekend. Obviously, things could change and it could turn into a Clemson and Alabama visit--recruiting is fluid--but as of this publication Clemson coaches expect Gary to be in. We will supposedly find out tonight what the final verdict will be (insert patient bear gif...).
This does nothing to negate the large, perhaps overwhelmingly, lead that Michigan now enjoys. Gary flirted with Ole Miss for a bit, is intrigued by sunny USC and California, and respects Alabama. Clemson was always on the list but below most of these schools and a handful of SEC schools throughout the process. Clemson has survived because of consistency, the run to the national championship game, and the family connections to Anderson with Gary's uncle.
When Gary first visited Clemson it was a fine visit, but the campus wasn't full and many of the coaches, including Swinney were on vacation (Dabo did Skype in). It wasn't the kind of visit that left an indelible mark on the recruit (we couldn't get him to our powerful summer camps or 'All In' BBQ, for example). Michigan, on the other hand, has had plenty of visits to campus and a stack of chips in their favor. They have one of Gary's former coaches working there (I don't think this is a dealbreaker but it is another connection), proximity to home, and a lot of teammates and friends at Michigan. Harbaugh has been a relentless recruiter as well. Gary just spent three days on campus bonding with teammates.
The SEC schools ran into problems when the yearly coaching carousel commenced. Muschamp, in particular, sabotaged Auburn's chance because he lied to Gary (saying he wasn't looking for any head coaching jobs and was going to be the DC for a long time). Harbaugh also had a DC change that he needed to explain, but was able to smooth that hiccup out.
Alabama thought they were completely out of the running, but an in-home visit with Nick Saban went better than expected. Saban had come across as a machine before but lightened his approach. This has Alabama jostling for the last official. If Clemson gets the last visit it will be an uphill battle. Michigan is a good academic school, good history, NFL coach, friends, etc.
However, you have to be a fool to count out Dabo. It is unfortunate, though, that Gary didn't come during the banquet week when he could have really bonded with the team/Clemson family and watched Travis Blanks deliver the best recruiting pitch possible. Gary does know a bunch of the committed players though and Clemson has the family ties that none of the other southern school possess. Dabo still hasn't used his in-home visit and Clemson is selling Gary on playing DE (really wherever he wants to line-up) and replacing a first round draft pick. If we landed Gary I can see a clear path back to the playoff--he is that good. We will find out shortly who wins out--Dabo or Saban, Clemson or Alabama...
UPDATE: HE IS VISITING CLEMSON. IT IS ON...