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Clemson Football Recruiting: All-In Cookout Preview

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We all-in...
We all-in...
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's All-In Cookout.

The single most effective recruiting event in Clemson football history. It has spurned a series of imitations across the country (even Bama now has a Champions Cookout). But the reason it is so effective for Clemson is because it fits the overall Clemson narrative about family that the coaches are constantly trying to sell to recruits and most importantly--their families. If you are at the Cookout, you are a top priority target. The event is also the summation of Clemson's recruiting for the summer before focus shifts to Fall Camp. It also gives the existing class a chance to come together and gel. I think this class featuring ace recruiters Amari Rodgers and newly minted commit Tee Higgins will be awfully persuasive.

However, with recruiting starting earlier and earlier it becomes harder and harder to attract top recruits back to campus multiple times during the summer (Clemson likes to have top recruits workout during their spring/summer camps). After you have been on campus multiple times as a Sophomore and Junior, another visit can be overkill for the family. So not being at the event doesn't signal the end of a recruitment at all (Diondre Overton eventually signed with Clemson last year although not attending the event, among others). I don't expect that this year's event to generate commitments like it has in the past but it will cement the lead position for a couple.

Regardless, it is an important event that solidifies Clemson's family culture and further distinguishes Clemson's approach to recruiting from other top programs.

DE

Jordan Williams (6'4 265) from Virginia Beach, VA, remains Clemson's top pass rushing target for this cycle. I maintain that Malik Herring is a Dawg, although it is not a completely done deal, I don't see that momentum changing. Williams is a top tier target who performed well at the Opening, especially considering that defensive ends at the event seriously struggled.

Williams has Clemson, Tennessee, and Virginia at the top of his list. He will be announcing his decision on August 6th and this Cookout trip will be his last before making a decision. He has a good idea of where he is going and Clemson coaches like their current positioning. I would be disappointed if he ended up anywhere else--like I said before, Vols fans are really going to hate Clemson when the ink dries on this class.

The next battle with Tennessee is with LB/DE (but recruited as an LB) Justin Foster (6'4, 245). Foster has been to Clemson a ton and this Cookout visit will be nothing new, but Clemson needs to tilt the needle back in their direction after Tennessee took a clear advantage over the summer. Foster needs to be shown he is a clear priority, which will definitely happen with the smaller numbers attended the Cookout.

CB/DB

The murkiest position to gauge this year in recruiting. Its been a roller coaster with lots of shifting opinions about players and movement on the board.

One thing is certain, AJ Terrell (6'2, 175) from Atlanta, GA is at the very top of the board and will be at the Cookout. Clemson has continued to battle here with Florida and to a lesser degree Auburn and Alabama. I think it is reasonable to say that Clemson has a slight edge right now, but this visit will be extremely important for Clemson to maintain their position. Terrell stated his intention to take more visits before rendering a decision and his recruitment could last until deep into the season. Clemson is content to go the distance in his recruitment, definitely oversign worthy. Terrell also has a bond with LeAnthony Williams, which is an underrated part of his recruitment.

Terrell posses the desired height, length, and athleticism at the position. Clemson needs height with these CB takes and prioritizes someone who can come up in run support. DE and CB are the two most important positions of need on defense this year in recruiting (if not overall).

Also attending the Cookout is one Jamyest Williams (5'9 175). This is a tough recruitment to nail down but this is my best overview. Lets start by saying that Williams is a very very good prospect. He is one of the more polished corners in high school and plays with great technique. Many college coaches don't have him as highly ranked because they see a low ceiling based largely on his height. For them, he is good but won't reach elite status. Jamyest, like most confident corners, views himself as an elite prospect. Williams is great in camp settings as well. He does well in man coverage and being physical with receivers in drills. He also plays a lot of 7-on-7 and excels in those situations. He was once again very impressive at the Opening for the second straight year. He fights every rep and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

He also enjoys the recruiting process like an elite prospect (let me reiterate--there is absolutely nothing wrong with this). He has visited a lot of campuses and made a ton of visits.

Williams was very close to committing at the beginning of the recruiting cycle. But as he visited other programs that interest waned and he has been all over the map with suitors jumping in and out. Clemson has always stayed high on the list however, but coaches have also tired with all the movement. Coaches from other programs have also tired of this process where they are told they are on top one week only to have that reversed the next. They will do that for a prospect they consider super elite, but Williams isn't at that level for many. That doesn't mean that coaches won't be happy to play when signing day approaches, but right now they are content to lets things continue. Clemson coaches don't like surprises (they already got one from Zack Carter after not having any last year--needless to say it didn't go over well).

This situation has allowed a school like USCjr. to jump in to the mix and try to lure Williams by saying to him that he is their number one and only. They only have eyes for him. He can start right away, he is the only recruit at the position. Muschamp is talking a good game and USCjr is a legitimate number one as of these past couple of weeks. Ohio State is also a team Williams wants to be recruited by and he listed them in his top 5 but I'm not sure they would take him right now. Same from Georgia (they would both probably make room but there is some waffling). I don't know where Tennessee has him on their board. This recruitment should have more twists and turns before it is all over.

Clemson definitely views Jamyest Williams as a quality player and at times during his recruitment wanted to accept his commitment. Jamyest is not an oversign candidate, so it is definitely about numbers and balancing needs at the position (height) and in the secondary (taking a Nickel/Safety). The Cookout is another important event where Williams will show his interest in Clemson and Clemson can reciprocate. The fact that he is coming to the Cookout speaks volumes. Tank Robinson said he was coming to the Cookout but that is not the case as far as I know. Recruitment is always about a two-way street.

WR

OrTre Smith (6'3 215) will be attending and his recruitment is ratcheting up in what is becoming a sprint to the finish. He has stated his intent to declare on his September 11th birthday. You have to give the edge to USCjr right now because they were clearly on him the longest and have promised that he will basically be there entire offense. It is the same pitch that was used with Edwards last year. Clemson is #WRU but that means it is very tight competition and Clemson was on Robinson before OrTre. Smith showed at the Opening that he isn't a TE. He will be a quality WR prospect, an ideal 5 position candidate with his height and size. The Cookout is where Clemson needs to make up the remaining ground.

I maintain, when you add in all the existing factors, that Clemson overall remains in the best position. USCjr leads currently, but don't count out Clemson down the homestretch.

Not Attending

People put out reports of attending recruits for this event too early.

D'Andre Swift isn't coming. Georgia tightened the screws here and he is all Dawg right now. We had a legit chance and there was some momentum towards our side, but it isn't happening. Swift will be a good player. The battleground now moves to 2018 RB Zamir White. White is a Gurley level RB prospect. Georgia is our main competition for top prospects right now (we are currently battling over all world 2018 QB Trevor Lawrence). Lawrence and White are two top 5 prospects next year. If you want a team to hate next year, its Georgia. Clemson was pursuing Swift for a reason and might not be completely done at RB.

LB Drew Singleton (6'2 215) from Paramus, NJ was going to at the Cookout but is rescheduling the visit for later in August. Obviously not something you want to have happen, but not the death knell for his recruitment by any stretch. This will go down to the wire with Michigan, but Singleton wants to visit other schools first before making a late decision.

S Jeffrey Okudah (6'1, 190) from Grand Prairie, TX and consensus top 5 prospect overall will not be making the trip because of health concerns with his family. Clemson isn't out of it completely, but they need him to visit before this becomes anything real to monitor.