So the dust has settled on another successful camp. We can debate the positives and negatives of satellite camps in another post (I see some distinct advantages that I think Clemson could strategically gain from), but the current model is working. And that is an understatement. Like FSU (another team not buying into the satellite camp hoopla), Clemson's camps are a well oiled machine and part of what has driven Dabo's recruiting success. Here is a summary of where we stand with the top 2017 prospects who came to camp.
You have probably heard a bunch of swirling rumors about Tee Higgins (6'4, 185) recently. Here it is for you straight. Yes, Higgins has publicly declared Tennessee as his leader. Yes, Higgins has attended a lot of UT camps and functions lately. No, he is not planning on committing today or tomorrow.
What is certain? I would rather be Clemson at this very moment than UT.
Higgins decommited from Tennessee for a reason. He feels a ton, and I mean a ton, of local pressure to go to UT. It is not even funny or healthy--it is out of control. Butch and his staff will continue this aggressive pursuit, it is what they are built for. You shouldn't feel comfortable about landing Higgins if you are Clemson until the fax is sent in and he sets foot on campus. But again, Clemson is in a better position right now.
Higgins camp served to reinforce the things he enjoys about Clemson. He has a strong connection with Coach Scott and bonds with Amari and now Hunter Johnson as well. All I can say is that during camp, in the confines of our indoor facility, magic was being performed. Higgins high points the ball better than anyone in the 2017 class, his catch radius is insane, hands are elite. He is deceptively fast for his height and glides down the field smoothly--gaining uncanny separation with the ball in the air. He has the ability to be great. I hear he loves a good Cookout.
Camps also allow a relaxed setting for coaches to explain. Clemson has needed to do some explaining to OrTre (6'3 215). That work could only be done with a visit to campus and that work was done. Clemson explained where and how OrTre would fit into the offense. How, despite other elite WRs around him, Clemson's offense produces enough reps, yards, and TD's to get multiple WR's to the NFL (and how being an elite WR in an inept offense isn't all that great).
They dispelled the rumor that OrTre would eventually play TE at Clemson. I know it is hard not to see a Brandon Ford comparison but Smith has much better speed and is more physically ready than Ford. Its not an appropriate comparison at all. Smith can stick and excel at WR for Clemson as a large body receiver who can play the 5 position or the 9 if he continues to progress. He is a perfect fit at the 5 for what Clemson wants to do. Very physical, but still has enough skill and good enough hands to win jump balls. It will take a bit of time for OrTre and the family to detox from the onslaught of negative recruiting that has been heaped on Clemson, but I think it is safe to say that Clemson currently leads.
Oh and did you see where Rivals senior analyst Mike Farrell predicted James Robinson would ultimately end up at Clemson? Its a tough job being a national guy but on this one he just dropped the ball. Not happening, just no.
If you haven't seen by now, Clemson is picking up steam in the crystal ball world of pickings for one Zach Carter (6'5 255). Carter had a standout camp. Working out a few sessions with Coach Hobby and displaying that long, strong frame that is perfectly suited for Clemson's SDE position.
Clemson sees a future Dodd in Carter--someone who is strong at the point of attack, can set the edge, and who will develop into a pass rusher in time. I see a lot of Goodman right now. A guy with the freakish wingspan you covet, but still very raw. My question with him is his speed (especially straight line speed) and ability to effectively play in space. I do see short burst explosiveness from Carter, but he will need to refine his technique and keep his agility with the added weight gain. Carter also wraps up well and bats down a ton of balls at the line of scrimmage. There is a lot for Hobby to mold there and Hobby loves Carter as a player. Hobby is the ideal position coach for a talent like Carter.
Carter was once a big-time Clemson lean. I intimated early on that it was a matter of when not if. The "when" will shortly be upon us. The road hasn't been as clear cut as I initially projected, however. Florida came on very strong (I think there were times where both schools questioned whether he was a take or not, especially when Clemson was only going to take one DE). Florida was said to be leading going into Clemson's camps. Clemson is in a strong position and this will continue our Tampa connection that we have built in the past three cycles.
Malik Herring (6'4 250) recently listed Clemson as his public leader. I'm not going to say that this is a bad thing, but its clear that this is a Georgia, Clemson battle with Tennessee as the darkhorse. I don't think this is a done deal to Georgia like so many have said. Herring keeps in contact with Clemson coaches and the coaches think they have a legitimate chance. It would be a seismic upset if it came to fruition.
Lots of moving parts here for so few CB/DB slots.
Jamyest Williams (5'9 175), now of Grayson, HS in GA, was once a strong Clemson lean--and I mean really strong. He seriously loves Clemson. That was coming off of Clemson's national championship run and last summer. Jamyest knew he wanted to enjoy the recruiting process though (something Coach Swinney encourages by the way), and enjoy it he has. He has been all over the country and visited every major school, which has muddied the waters considerably.
Right now I think you have Georgia, who has always been a presence but really made a push once Kirby Smart became coach, as a legitimate threat. Florida State has also made a strong push. Alabama has made a charge. Ohio State feels they are in a good position. It is complicated and Clemson has suitors banging down the walls wanting to take that CB slot. Clemson has started to turn the heat up just a little bit on Williams, but he loves the recruiting process (again, totally his prerogative) and is being courted by the best in the business. I'm sure if you are in that position it is hard not be impressionable. Williams remains one of the most technically sound CB in this class. Great speed, body control, and tons of confidence and fight. Plays with a chip on his shoulder because of his height.
If only we had two more scholarships for this position--it would make things a lot easier on the staff. You could accept a commitment now and wait it out for a player like Jamyest who is on that oversign bubble. Right now I don't think Clemson will have room for Williams if they take a commitment from another DB.
Case in point: Tre Shaw (6'0 180) from Ellenwood, GA. Shaw is a composite top 300 player, but I think that ranking is a bit low. I would have him sitting in the top 200. For me, he profiles as more of a Nickel prospect, but that is mainly because there isn't a ton of film on him playing CB (and I haven't seen him personally). He is strong in run support and not afraid to attack the line of scrimmage. Good speed and size. Glowing reviews about his character and personality, certainly a cultural fit for Clemson.
Now Coach Reed worked with him during the camp and felt like he checked all the boxes as a legit CB take. He visited twice in a week and could be on commit watch. The question the staff is mulling is whether to take him or wait it out for someone like Williams. I think more signs are pointing to Shaw. It is the same question for a prospect like CJ Avery as well (I see AJ Terrell as an oversign regardless). I still think we sign 3 DBs in this class, but the coaches are set on only taking two more at the present moment. Very hard questions that would be much easier with a few more open scholarships.