In the last week of recruiting, there was a surprising amount of movement in both the 2018, and 2019 recruiting classes. Even though Clemson has gone without a commitment for a very long time, that does not mean there have not been significant developments in that time frame.
What Justin Fields commitment to Georgia means for Clemson
The morning Justin Fields committed to UGA, I was admittedly very worried. Fields is closely tied to many Clemson targets, and could potentially give Georgia a ridiculous amount of recruiting momentum. After having a few days to process the decision, and hear from a few different people, I am no longer as worried.
Yes, Fields is going to give Georgia a ton of recruiting momentum, and while that is noteworthy, it should not affect Clemson’s remaining targets in 2018 too much. It will effect Jamaree Salyer, but that recruitment has been trending away from Clemson for a few months now so this isn’t the biggest deal in my opinion.
I don’t think it will affect KJ Henry’s decision. While the two are friends, to my understanding this relationship is no more meaningful than relationships he has within Clemson’s current class. I continue to like Clemson’s standing here, and feel more and more assured Henry comes to Clemson.
I do, however, think this commitment will have a significant impact on Georgia’s 2019 class. For those that don’t know, Georgia has 3 5-star recruits already committed in its 2019 class. Among them are 2 WRs. One of them, Jadon Haslewood, is someone who Clemson is currently trying to flip. This commitment makes all 3 of these recruits, and especially the WRs more solid in their pledge.
I think this could also end up helping UGA’s cause for 5-star OLB target Owen Pappoe. Pappoe is friends with Fields, and some serious recruiting momentum could sway his decision, but more on Pappoe later.
Movement in the 2019 Class
Last week I told you all that just because the 2019 class does not have a commitment, that it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been movement. I had heard rumblings a commitment was coming but I was not expecting it so soon.
Joseph Charleston is a baller. The 4-star Safety has great ball-hawking skills and can ideally lineup as a corner too, although is preferably a Safety. Huge credit to Mickey Conn here for this commitment. Charleston visited campus 3 times in just 6 weeks, and forged a great relationship with Clemson’s Safeties coach. This is a win for Clemson directly over top programs like UGA and Bama. Charleston was the top Safety on Clemson’s board for 2019, so this is a huge get for the Tigers.
Zacch Pickens, a borderline 5-star DE from right down the road is someone who visited this past weekend. In the past Pickens has named Florida State as his leader, but has backed off of that statement recently. Pickens has already made 2 trips to games this season with his Mother, who figures to play a big role in his recruitment. With Florida State struggling on the field, and slipping a bit in this recruitment, I’ve never been more confident that Pickens lands at Clemson.
Speaking of FSU slipping, I’m led to believe that Clemson is making a move for 5-star WR Jashawn Sheffield. Sheffield has always been all FSU, and has been as vocal about one school as one can be without being committed. However, with FSU struggling badly this season, it has seemingly opened the door for both Clemson and UGA. Sheffield along with his teammate, 4-star Athlete Jalyn Simpson will visit for the FSU game.
Meant a lot seeing that orange and purple on the sideline last night Thanks for coming coach. #ALLIN— Jashawn Sheffield (@Jashawnsheff) October 7, 2017
Ramel Keyton, a 4-star WR is another Wideout that Clemson is attempting to add to its arsenal. Keyton has publicly named Clemson his leader, and will decide in the Spring. UGA and Tennessee are two other teams heavily involved, but given Clemson’s track record at the position, they usually get who they want. I firmly expect Keyton to be a member of the 2019 class.
Final 3 dropping soon...— Owen Pappoe (@opfreak15) October 8, 2017
The biggest 2019 news of the week came from the above tweet. Owen Pappoe, 5-star OLB, and a top 5 player nationally announced that he would soon be releasing a top 3. This was a surprise because Pappoe originally planned to announce his top 3 a few days before his commitment in December, but it seems plans have changed. The most obvious top 3 would be Georgia, Clemson, and Florida State, but allegedly one of the top 3 will surprise.
It seems that FSU has seriously slipped in this recruitment (or have never been involved period), while UGA and Clemson are at the top. Based on what I know, I think the final team could end up being Auburn, or possibly someone else, however, I don’t expect them to play a significant role in this recruitment. This is strictly a UGA and Clemson battle at the moment and it has gotten tight.
As I said last week, Pappoe visited Clemson in the Summer, and reportedly wanted to commit. Dabo allowed him to take other visits, and was going to take one last visit to Clemson before the season started. Unfortunately for Clemson, Pappoe could not make it up the week before the dead period started, and has visited UGA 3 times since his first visit to Tiger town.
Couple that with the fact that UGA is playing so well on defense (especially Roquan Smith), and it’s easy to see why UGA is trending in the right direction. There were factors in the past pushing Pappoe away from Georgia, but the Dawgs have caught his attention and have likely taken the lead in this recruitment.
Being that Owen Pappoe seems to be rather impressionable (like many recruits), it is a good thing that Clemson will be getting a later visit here. He is currently scheduled to visit for the FSU game, and right now the feeling is that if Clemson is to have any chance here they will need to nail the visit. If Pappoe and his parents don’t make it up for that game, Clemson will not land arguably the most talented prospect in the class.
UGA has done a very good job of selling Pappoe on proximity to home, and schematic fit. Kirby Smart is no fool. He knows that on November 11th, Pappoe will visit for the FSU game, and at the same time Georgia will battle Auburn on the Plains. Because of this, Kirby is trying to speed up Pappoe’s decision-making process, and have him commit before 1 of 2 things happens. First, Pappoe visits Clemson and has an expectedly great time, and/or second, Georgia loses to Auburn.
Smart knows that November 11th could turn the tide of this recruitment back to Clemson, so naturally he wants Pappoe to make a decision before that date. I don’t expect him to succeed, and think Clemson will get 1 more shot to woo Pappoe. Venables and the rest of the staff have their work cut out for them, because the feeling right now is definitely UGA.
Closing Thoughts and Observations
To close on a lighter note, the other day someone asked me who are 5 prospects I am most confident in joining the 2018 class, and I responded with 5-star DE Kj Henry, 5-star WR Justyn Ross, 4-star RB Lyn-J Dixon, 4-star CB Brendan Radley-Hiles, and 3-star OT Jordan Mcfadden. I stand by that statement, even though it requires a few things to break Clemson’s way.
If Clemson keeps winning it will continue to register strongly with recruits in both 2018, and 2019. Another playoff appearance and ACC championship could certainly change some recruitments...