As expected, AJ Terrell (6’2, 180) from Westlake, GA committed to the Clemson Tigers today. Terrell is the 13th commitment of the 2017 class, and is ranked as the composite #71 player overall. Rivals is bullish on his potential and have him ranked highest as a 5* at #8 overall, whereas Scout has him ranked the lowest at #163. I tend to think his ranking will continue to improve as more updates to rankings come. AJ Terrell was very impressive at the Opening and shot up the Rivals rankings after some strong summer camp performances. Terrell’s finalists were Clemson, South Carolina, and Florida, but really this was a UF and Clemson battle that was all but settled about a month ago. Auburn was the early leader (and it looked like an All-SEC battle), but they faded with uncertainty and coaching turnover. Clemson, again, goes into the heart of Georgia recruiting and pulls an elite prospect from Atlanta, GA.
With Cordrea Tankersley graduating this year, Clemson needed to find a quality big corner to replace him. This was a huge need for Clemson in this class and they filled it with one of the top bigger corner prospects in the entire country.
Clemson has quietly been in the lead position since Terrell’s visit this summer during Dabo Swinney’s camp, which placed Clemson at the top of the pecking order. AJ proceeded to take a lot of visits during the summer and check out all of the top programs, but his time at the All-In Cookout helped cement Clemson’s stance at the top of the leaderboard. Most recently he visited Clemson to check out practice at camp. Terrell had said that he was going to delay making a decision until the end of the season because he didn’t want to de-commit and take his official visits. This was at the behest of Coach Swinney to not commit until the prospect is sure, but AJ eventually tired of the process and wanted to go ahead and commit to the school he wanted to go to all along. He wasn’t shy about telling people he wanted to go to Clemson either.
Florida was his favorite school growing up, the ‘dream school’, and he was so enamored with the Gators during his first (and only real visit to UF) that he almost committed on the spot. That feeling definitely faded quickly though with more visits. South Carolina, bless their hearts, were never really in this—more of a courtesy to their DB coach and the relationship AJ built with him. I’m sure both schools will continue to try to drive a wedge by wanting an official visit, UF in particular, but Terrell seems set on Clemson.
Instrumental in his recruitment was his friendship with fellow Clemson commit LeAnthony Williams. The two are good friends and Williams helped with rides and transportation to Clemson, in addition to being in his ear. Mike Reed is the staff member who gets credit, definitely a good pull for him.
WHAT CLEMSON GETS
Height and length. Superior athleticism. I said back in June that the name Jalen Ramsey is who instantly comes to mind when you think of Terrell’s potential. That is high praise, but he plays in the exact same style and enters college much in much the same way as Ramsey. Terrell has the length and size to play either Safety or Corner (and like Ramsey he could start at Safety and eventually move to Corner), but his 5* value is being that big, long versatile corner that is explosive and fast, but strong at the point of attack and can tackle.
One of Terrell’s strengths right now is how strong and physical he is as a corner (which is why he could play Safety, but Clemson will put him at corner—it is where he prefers to play). He gets off blocks, makes tackles, and doesn’t shy away from contact. He has great top end speed and short range quickness/explosiveness. Good ball skills and instincts in the pass game. He is a safe bet to be a very good player because of his versatility at his height to go along with his size and elite speed (high ceiling, high floor prospect).
He plays QB for his high school team to give you an idea of his athleticism and could be another special teams returner at Clemson (last year he played WR). He can also return punts and kickoffs. He plays against top competition in the state of Georgia.
What does he need to work on? Well, his technique at corner is still a bit raw. He can get crossed up at times and I don’t think he flips his hips as well as you want when identifying a 5* corner prospect. He uses his speed to make up for this and compensate for a bit of raw technique (Jalen Ramsey was also very raw coming into FSU and it is why he played some Safety but like Terrell he was just too athletic to not see the field). Work to be done, but a ton of upside and tools to work with.
Terrell gives Clemson two high end corner prospects in the class. I still believe that Clemson will ultimately pursue two more DBs in the class (Safety prospects). Although it could end up being only one Safety position. I think that decision will be coupled with perceived need as the season unfolds. Bell and Xavier McKinney would be at the top of the list, giving Amari Rodgers competition for top commitment recruiter since Williams and McKinney are teammates.