Here we go down the home stretch of recruiting for the 2016 class while we simultaneously push the accelerator into the 2017 class.
We only have a few remaining slots in the 2016 class that will go to John Simpson, Rashan Gary and 2 defensive backs (giving us the three for the class with Turner).
Let us start with OL John Simpson (6'4 295). Big John is nearing a decision. Simpson entertained the possibility of visiting Alabama but that didn't happen. He decided to stay home but was visited by a hoard of USCjr coaches at his school while he was in class. Yes, they tried to pull him out of classes on a day that he was wrestling (a possible NCAA violation right there because Simpson was wrestling that day), but at the very least a totally intrusive and desperate move. I have never really considered the Cocks (or am I supposed to say Spurs??) to be real threats and Simpson finally lopped the head off of the beast--officially narrowing his choices down to Clemson, Florida, and LSU.
Florida has always been the main source of anxiety for the coaching staff. Simpson visited and enjoyed spending time there. Florida coaches felt after the visit they were squarely in the picture. I thought at the time that this had a lot to do with post-visit euphoria and that things would likely settle after some time to process. That has not exactly been the case and Florida feels like they have just as good a chance as Clemson to land Simpson.
Also, don't be fooled by Simpson's drop in the Rivals250. At the Army practice they had him lined up at Center for a lot of reps, a position he would not likely ever play at Clemson. He is an impact lineman who can pull and blow people off the ball in the run game. He gives you a winning grade at guard with the versatility to potentially play some tackle if needed. He is still raw as a prospect but he fits well with what Clemson wants their lineman to do.
After his official visit, I think the arrow moved back in Clemson's favor, but Simpson is going to weigh everything and make a decision. This is not the foregone conclusion it once was. And for anyone who thinks this is some kind of drama thing, kindly back away from the computer for the next week. Simpson has been great throughout the entire process (even gracious with USCjr coaches who wouldn't take a hint) and wanted to take his visits. That isn't drama, that is his right. He wanted to check out other schools after his football season so he could dedicate himself to his team and have family with him on visits. That is responsible, commendable recruitment. Dabo did his in home visit on Thursday without any kind of silent commitment.
I'm sure it has been excruciating for the Clemson coaches because Big John has almost fully committed, all-in committed about three times at different stages in the process. Clemson has done all that they could to land him and I still give Clemson the edge, but he could go to Florida. It is that close.
I have reason to believe he will go to Clemson but Florida is right there.
Alright, on to the DB's...
DB Trayvon Mullen (6'2, 180) has got to be one of the more interesting recruits to follow this cycle. He keeps things close to the vest and has left a lot of analysts guessing (I'm certainly included in that category). He comes from a loaded Coconut Creek team in Florida. He has excellent film as a DB and kick returner. Elite athlete with great speed. He did struggle in the Army All-American bowl as a pure corner at times in practice and in the game. I think he definitely has the speed and agility to stick at corner but will need to refine his technique and flip his hips a bit more fluidly. He is a tall corner though, so it is somewhat expected at this stage. Mullen could eventually move to Free Safety but Clemson is recruiting him as a CB.
His recruitment has been tough to figure out but here is everything I know. He once called Clemson his dream school but didn't visit until his official visit on January 15th. Prior to that he took an official to Louisville and TCU in late November and early December. The other official was to LSU on the 22nd. Throughout the process Mullen has been viewed as a Florida State lean. LSU was seen as the next likely candidate. Problem with that cut and dry scenario is that there are questions about numbers at this point in the recruiting game. Both FSU and LSU have very good corner classes already (FSU with 4 DBs including standout Levonta Taylor and LSU with Saivion Smith among others). FSU is looking like it will also add fast rising CB Carlos Becker to the mix. I was told that FSU will indeed take both corners.
So done deal to FSU then? I've also been told that there is a feeling that Mullen doesn't care for those numbers and those folks think LSU is the likely destination. Mullen was also scheduled to visit FSU unofficially again this past week and he never made that visit. I have also heard that LSU is full at DB (this might also depend on the decisions of Kristian Fulton and Shyheim Carter), which would mean either FSU or Clemson. Not so fast, Mullen took another visit to Louisville this past weekend where he has some family connections. Dabo also spent 40 minutes on his in-home visit, something I was told was not planned to be so short. Mullen will announce on signing day on ESPNU.
So to recap--FSU, LSU, Clemson and even Louisville think they have a legitimate shot at landing Mullen. Don't plan on Mullen being a Tiger, but don't believe anyone counting us out completely. We do pretty well in that darkhorse role after all.
Romeo Finley (6'1, 200) from Niceville, Florida is also a strong possibility to commit to Clemson. Finley was set to go to Georgia Tech but has given Clemson and Miami a serious look. Tech has really been after him throughout the entire process so there is a lot of built up loyalty he feels towards GT. He is a very physical Safety who doesn't mind coming up and laying the wood in run support or blitzing off the edge. He doesn't have elite speed and needs to improve coverage skills, but you can see why he would fit as a Safety for BV system.
His Clemson visit included sledding down the Hill and attending the players awards banquet where Travis Blanks gave one of the best endorsements of the Clemson Family I think anyone could possibly give. Very powerful and the visit gave Finley a ton to think about. He is currently visiting Miami and plans to unveil his decision the day before signing day. Dabo went and made a visit earlier in the week and Finley had not yet come to a decision. I think he is torn between GT and Clemson. If he had to make a decision initially after the visit I think it would have been Clemson but time will tell. Clemson did get into this very late.
This update is part one, part two will include updates on Isaiah Simmons, K'Von Wallace, Michail Carter, and Rashan Gary.
I will say about Gary that he ain't going to Bama or Auburn today or cutting his Clemson official short for any reason, that is for sure. Got to love the way Rashan and his family have handled the process (that was a first class interview that Gary gave at the award ceremony, responded like a seasoned pro), those coaches pounced on Atlanta with reckless abandon. Insanity...