Its been too long gentleman. Lets get right to it.
Honestly, there really hasn't been a lot of recruiting news, but with the first Dabo Swinney Camp in full swing its time to unload.
QB 2 (2 commits)
RB 1 (1 commit)
WR 3 (1 commit)
TE 0-1 (likely 0)
Oline 3-4 (3 commits)
DE 2 (0 commits)
DT 0-1 (likely zero)
LB 3-4 (depends on if Baylon Spector is categorized as a LB or S, but I have him as an OLB, likely SAM or possibly WILL-currently 2 commits)
CB 2 (1 commit)
Safety 1-2 (0 commits)
You can see from this breakdown that the class is largely done and we are just waiting patiently on big fish. Clemson needs to remain patient to land some of these players and will be in it till the very end. You see at DB that Clemson will take one pure shutdown Corner, but look for them to take one Safety and probably one Nickel CB/S hybrid. Someone long and versatile. The other big change is we are now going to take 2 DEs, something I have been clamoring for all year. Apparently there has been vigorous debate on the subject, but the decision is indeed to go with 2 at the DE position. I think this is really important to the long term depth at the position and we need to hit on both of these takes.
Get used to USCjr trying to claim that they are winning the in-state battle. Frankly, it is all they can really say right now, but it is actually an important battleground. Clemson doesn't want USCjr to win that narrative battle because it impacts future classes in the state when there will be more talent. Sure, Clemson has largely out-recruited its home state, but that won't always be the case so the perception of neglecting homegrown talent can be poisonous (especially if high school coaches feel slighted). This is one of the reasons the Logan Rudolph (6'3, 235, Northwestern HS, Rock Hill) commitment was strategic. Rudolph fills a need as a hybrid LB/DE (I don't think he will play with his hand in the dirt much at all at Clemson), but also contradicts the notion that USC is somehow dominating in-state. I like the pick-up because of Brent Venables. There are some legitimate concerns about Rudolph being fluid in coverage and flipping his hips at LB. But in BV scheme he can be a gap thumper who possesses quality straight line speed and the ability to finish. He doesn't shy away from contact at all. Needs to fill out the lower half of his frame while maintaining/improving agility. The hiring of Northwestern's head coach Kyle Richardson certainly didn't hurt from an evaluation perspective either.
Other in-state players under evaluation include WR Shi Smith (below our offer board with Amari Rodgers, Shi will soon be a USCjr pickup and as I write this he drops for them), OrTre Smith (currently battling with USC primarily and a few others like Georgia on the periphery), and Davondre "Tank" Robinson (taking his time and we aren't pushing him). Also to clarify, we have decided not to recruit 5* WR James Robinson and move completely to OrTre. We knew about James Robinson's red flags going in, but the flags continued to wave in the coaches faces. Don't need to delve into specifics, but Florida State wouldn't even recruit him. Florida is the leader, but even they are waffling on the decision. This hasn't kept Ohio State and Bama from offering. We shall see where he ends up. It is a bummer because he is a really great player, just needs to improve his hands some.
With the move to taking two defensive ends, Clemson is ramping up their efforts with a handful of top prospects. The star of this week's Clemson camp was definitely Forsyth, GA's Malik Herring (6'3 260). Malik profiles as a weakside DE, very similar to Shaq Lawson with a bit more flexibility and bend at this level. Solid combination of compact strength and burst off the line. Loves to play football. Herring has been Coach Hobby's favorite DE for a long while now, but I maintain that this is a tough pull from Georgia. Georgia has been the unofficial leader here for awhile, but Malik keeps listening to Clemson and the Clemson coaches still feel they have a legitimate chance. It was huge that he made it to camp and Clemson remains optimistic after the camp.
Next on the list and the top Strongside DE prospect (who could also play weakside but is longer than Herring so we will put him at SDE for now) is Jordan Williams (6'4 265) of Virginia Beach, VA. Williams has had Clemson at the top for awhile now, but he is open to a host of suitors. Clemson should beat out the in-state Virginia and Virginia Tech but Tennessee is right there. I really like our current lead position, but worry about another suitor coming in and hacking away at Clemson as the DE dominos continue to drop (Williams is lower on other top programs boards but he is a rising prospect and DE is always a position of need). Rivals just got an interview with Williams where he called us his leader if he had to pick one--not good because Clemson becomes the target when it was previously UT. Ohio State is lurking. FSU and Michigan are the teams Williams wants offers from. Venables is on Williams, which is always good thing. Should be done by August.
Zach Carter (6'4 260) from Tampa, FL is the other major SDE target and we continue to battle Florida for his services. Florida could be called the leader at this point. Carter has elite length and good strength, but not the best straight-line speed. He will be on campus from Tuesday to Thursday in a very important visit.
The other elite DE in camp was Jonathan Garvin (6'4 225) from West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a late rising prospect who has offers from Georgia, Louisville, Tennessee, USCjr, and most recently Florida State. He is still very raw, but has long arms and a lot of potential upside. For me, he is not in the same tier as Herring or Williams but is by no means a fall back prospect at all.
The other campers who were noteworthy are from the 2018 class-I'll have a separate post on them.
Important visits to Clemson are going to ramp up for Clemson. Atlanta, GA 4/5* CB AJ Terrell (6'2 180), fresh off of a performance at the Rivals 5* Challenge and top 10 ranking from the recruiting service, was in Clemson Sunday. Clemson offered in January and this is his first trip to campus after numerous false starts. Auburn and Alabama feel they lead. Florida is bandied around as a leader and Clemson now feels like they are squarely in mix. Terrell is a premier talent with a rare combination of size and blazing speed. He still needs his technique to catch up with his measurables, but he has Jalen Ramsey type athleticism and size.
Safety Devon Hunter (6'1 200) of Chesapeake, VA will also make a return visit. Clemson has been in the lead for Hunter and almost landed his commitment earlier in the process, but Florida's hiring of Virginia Tech coach Torrian Gray elevated the Gators. Still Clemson is his childhood favorite and BV is once again leading the recruitment. UF has sold Hunter on their recent DB history and Gray continued to build his relationship. Virginia Tech has slipped but the Gators are a real threat. Hunter is going to visit Auburn (never good) with his mother and then swing by Clemson. Hunter also participated in the Rivals 5* Challenge.
DB JaCoby Stevens (6'2 205) of Murfreesboro, TN has also stated that he is going to visit but Georgia has a big lead here. He showed up to the Rivals Challenge with a Georgia sweatshirt and cites them as his leader. He still says that he will give Clemson a chance to impress him, but I wouldn't get any hopes up too high. Still Clemson coaches and Amari Rodgers keep chipping away.
WR Tee Higgins (6'4 185) will also camp at Clemson. The Oak Ridge, TN product is an absolute 5* beast. He is the best WR in this class and recruiting services that don't have him as a 5* are silly (and will be made to look silly). I don't even think Tennessee could screw up his talent. UT was recently listed at the top and FSU likes their chances as a darkhorse. I'm not buying it and still like Clemson's chances ultimately.
All-world 2018 QB Trevor Lawrence (6'5 200) from Cartersville, GA will also be back on campus. We are battling with UT, Florida, and Georgia as the main competition for Lawrence. Some in his camp feel UT is slipping but Georgia and Florida have emerged. Lawrence still needs to be assured that Clemson is the right fit (Trevor is mobile, but not looking to run up and down the field) and the emergence of 2017 Clemson commit Hunter Johnson isn't helping our cause. By they way, like I said early on, Hunter Johnson is a 5* QB who throws the nicest ball in the class of 2017. Let me also reiterate that Hunter is one of the more mobile QBs in the this class and he is a legitimate dual threat. He is the number one QB recruit in the class of 2017 in my book (and this isn't being a homer either--other QBs are being hyped but don't have mechanics of Hunter or his added mobility). Arm strength is elite. Touch, spin. He just needs to keep developing his lower body and keep refining his decision making (during recent 7-on-7s and the Rivals Challenge this wasn't a problem at all against the best in the country).