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QT’s Clemson Tiger Recruiting Breakdown

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NCAA Football: The Citadel at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

I’m just finishing some Thanksgiving prep work. What kinds of must have food do you have at Thanksgiving? How do you cook your turkey? I have started cooking stuffing outside the bird using cubed sourdough bread, dried cranberries, maple sausage, a granny smith and fuji apple, celery, and what...you don’t care?

Fine.

You get nuggets for Thanksgiving.

Clemson coaches maintain they are taking only 15 recruits this year. I put the number at 18. The most likely number is 17, but I hold out hope for 19. For now we will be optimistic and work with 18.

We currently have 11 recruits committed and all are expected to stick at this point.

Here is how I break down the positional numbers:

QB-1 (Trevor Lawrence)

RB-1

WR-2 (Derion Kendrick)

TE-1 (Braden Galloway)

OL-2-3 (we should have at least three, but two is very likely...unfortunately)

DE-2-3 (XT, Justin Mascoll)

DT-2 (Josh Belk, Darnell Jefferies)

LB-2 (Jake Venables, Mike Jones Jr.)

DB-3 (Kyler McMichael)

K-1 (BT Potter)

This means that we have open spots at WR, RB, DE, 2-3 at offensive line, and 2 at DB. That gives us 8 spots that would take us to 19 with three offensive lineman and 18 with just two.

WR

Clemson continues the pursuit of Justyn Ross (6’4, 200) from Phenix City, AL. Ross is the only other wide receiver Clemson is currently recruiting. Ross loves that Clemson puts WRs in the NFL and didn’t like the offenses at Bama or Auburn. Ross has long been in the Clemson column, but the recent success of Auburn to throw the ball did give Ross pause. The official visit has solidified Clemson’s position at the top. It would be a big upset if Scott lost his WR target. Seeing Tee Higgins and Cain catch balls down the field was big, along with his family seeing the military history at Clemson. But again, this has been Clemson’s recruitment to lose for duration.

Speaking of the other WR commitment, Derion Kendrick is very underrated. He is a top 50 player and will excel at Clemson once he masters the technique of the position. He is electric in the open field.

RB

Lyn-J Dixon (5’10, 180) from Butler, GA is a smaller back in the mold of an Andre Ellington (not the caliber of recruit, but just the type of player). A change of pace RB who could catch balls out of the backfield and be more of a speed player than a power back running up the A gap.

He reminds me a lot of Darrian Felix from last year. Felix was set on coming to Clemson according to Tony Elliott and the coaches last year, but surprised folks when he committed to Oregon. Felix bolting was a huge blessing in disguise since Clemson landed ETN, who is arguably the difference in a couple of games this season. Dixon also surprised the coaches when he grabbed the spot at Tennessee instead of waiting and prolonging his recruitment further. Clemson stayed in the race for Zamir White until the very end and slow played the field of RBs. I was fine with this because this year’s crop is not as talented. Clemson has honed in on Dixon for the lone take this year.

Dixon is ranked as a high 3* or low 4* by most services. He is a composite 4* on 247 (the 4*’s end at 344) and appropriately ranked. I see Dixon as a situational, role playing back, which has its value. He will need to put on 10-20 lbs in college before he can really contribute. Elliott saw Dixon in the Swinney Camp setting and, just like Felix, has narrowed in on Dixon. He has good speed and quickness, ability to make jump cuts, but he doesn’t break many tackles at the high school level. He will need to physically mature, but could serve a role in the offense.

The other backs that are possibilities are uncommitted Harold Joiner from Alabama, Mychale Salahuddin, a USCsr commit, and Asa Martin, an Auburn commit. Joiner is interesting because he could project as an athletic TE at the next level. If Clemson had more space he would be a possibility for a take as an athlete.

Clemson is in the drivers seat for Dixon following his official visit. Clemson could bring in other RBs, but they feel good about their position right now. Tennessee is in turmoil and Alabama and Georgia aren’t committable offers at the moment. Florida is also without a head coach. He has one scheduled visit for Louisville on Dec 9th. The only real question is Dixon following through (in more than one way).

Offensive Line

The most frustrating and important position group of the 2018 recruiting cycle. We need to take three offensive lineman every year. If you land two 5* players then maybe you can only take two, but if not then you need three. With Crowder and Morris gone next year and Hearn and Falci the following year, we need interior depth. Remember when we took Simpson late and made the numbers work? We need to do that again and grab three lineman. No one should feel comforted by the fact that we have Giella, Reeves, Stewart, and others waiting in the wings or preventing us from taking three lineman in this cycle.

We missed on Trey Hill and Salyer, despite coaches still feeling as late as last month that they had shot at Salyer. Those are big losses as both will be forces at the next level.

Luckily for Clemson Cade Mays (6’6, 318) from Knoxville Catholic, TN appeared thanks to Butch Jones not being able to coach himself out of a paper bag and being an all-around champion at ticking people off...errrr...life. Mays has been on my recruiting wish-list since the beginning of this class.

Mays is friends with Mike Jones Jr. (a former TN recruit before he went to IMG) and Amari Rodgers (who also graduated from Knoxville Catholic). He came on an official visit this past weekend and it couldn’t have gone any better. We put our best foot forward with facilities, Swinney’s new house on display, and selling family.

Mays would immediately step into the two deep, no question. He is a mauler with a mean streak who plays through the whistle. He eventually takes over at LT if he comes to Clemson. Lots of momentum to Georgia after he took a visit there and decided to de-commit. I’m inclined to believe this is part a reaction to the de-commitment happening right after the visit (they weren’t related, he had already told the UT coaches he was going to de-commit) and some herd, homer Dawgs groupthink.

Clemson feels like they are the current leaders. This could change after the Dawg official visit, but Mays is the most important uncommitted prospect on the board.

Jordan McFadden (6’5, 280) from Dorman HS, South Carolina is a VT commit that Clemson is trying to flip. I thought this was going to be a done deal about a month ago, but the Hokies have tried hard to hold on. Clemson swung for the fences this cycle, but I think they underestimated slightly just how hard it would be to pluck the in-state prospect out of the hands of VT. Landing the last official visit helps, however.

McFadden is extremely athletic for his size. He has basketball player feet and agility for someone so tall. He still needs to add some strength, but his frame can easily get up to 300 pounds. He is a composite 3* player and number 902 overall, which feels low. He should be a higher 3* prospect because of his athleticism and feet. He is still raw and needs some technique work and strength work, but he isn’t a fallback prospect. He is a quality pick-up and there is a reason VT is trying so hard to hold him. Clemson feels like that isn’t going to happen for the Hokies.

Clemson remains in pursuit of Jackson Carman (6’6, 330) of Fairfield, OH. Carman is another consensus 5* Tackle prospect who will be coming on an official visit December 8th. It is down to Ohio State, Clemson, and USC, but Carman didn’t come to the cookout and hasn’t been as connected to Clemson on social media as he has with Ohio State and USC. Clemson will gauge his interest during the visit and then move on down the list after that is established. Carman is his own man though and could shock people. I actually think that USC is in this more than people realize. They also get the last official visit in sunny LA weather in the dead of an Ohio winter. All recruiting info points to Ohio State and the in-state pull winning out, but Carman likes to be his own man and has maintained positive contact with our coaches.

I would like to see Clemson try to land Jovaughn Gwyn (6’3, 290). He really impressed me at the Opening where they had him play a bunch of Center. He held up against some of the best DTs in the country and competed. Right now NC State is in the lead and could be too far in front, but Clemson could still try to bully its way in and steal him away from a division rival. I’d also like to see Clemson continue to pursue Nicholas Petit-Frere, although he hasn’t reciprocated interest (same with Gouriage even though he used Clemson to drum up interest for his Florida commitment).

DE

I have maintained for a year+ that Clemson leads for KJ Henry (6’5, 235) from West Forsyth, NC and nothing has changed that fact throughout the duration of his recruitment. The official visit reinforced Clemson’s position and his relationship with the coaches and other recruits. Henry didn’t have a great start to his senior year and still needs to fill out his massive frame. He got caught at times at the Opening not being able to use his length and speed to slip by Tackles. He will have an acclimation period in college, but he has all the measurables to be a dominant WDE. XT and KJ are going to help replenish the Dline for years to come.

DB

This is the most interesting recruiting position of the cycle. I will cut to the chase because I want to eat Turkey.

First, Clemson really landed a good one in Kyler McMichael. He is going to rise up the recruiting boards before all is said and done. Right now he is the composite 112 overall player and that is too low. Kyler is physically ready for college and will just need CB technique work to play. That leaves two slots.

The big fish is Tyreke Johnson (6’1 191) from Trinity Christian Academy. Lots of conflicting reports coming in the wake of his official visit and lots of conflicting opinions about Johnson as a player. He may be one of the more polarizing players in the country at this point. He is the composite number 38 overall player, but some have him as a high 5* and others like 247 have him number 124 overall. The question is whether he is a corner or a safety at the next level. He plays physical, but can struggle at corner against elite competition is what services say that peg him lower than others. Regardless, he would be a talented pick-up. Johnson was considered a heavy Ohio State lean coming off of his official visit there, but Clemson feels like they are also in a good position. No one definitively knows right now. This is a legit toss-up, 50/50. I can say that the reports that he didn’t enjoy the visit are contradicted by the family’s own words. The UCLA firing puts them on the outside looking in.

Bookie Radley-Hines remains an Oklahoma lean after the official visit. He is good friends with TJ Pledger and needs to be pushed to Clemson, does not look like that will happen at the moment.

Two Auburn commitments Matthew Hill (6’2, 190) from Brookwood, GA and Quindarious Monday (6’3, 195) from Carver, GA visited Clemson. Hill is a WR commit for Auburn, but Clemson wants him to play Safety. Monday is very long, like crazy go-go gadget arm length, and looks like a Kearse kind of clone. Clemson really wants him and will continue to push hard. He came to Clemson for an unofficial visit on the 11th of November that was big. Remember Clemson thought Monday was going to commit to them before he abruptly changed course and picked Auburn. I still think it is very likely that he ends up a Clemson commit when all is said and done.

Also it would be lovely if Clemson went after LB Payton Wilson (6’4, 230) of Orange, NC. He was also on my recruit wish-list and de-committed from UNC. Notre Dame or NC State look like the likely choices, but Clemson should find room for him. Unfortunate that he just tore his ACL, but he is oversign worthy.

Happy Thanksgiving.