Clemson currently has 15 signed members of the current class. We will run our normal comprehensive look at the offensive and defensive needs met with the class when the entire class is signed in February. But this is an opportunity to evaluate who are the remaining targets in the remaining class.
With 9 seniors off the books and two other scholarships (Thomason and Cote) combined with Trapp and Hearn confirmed as leaving, you get 13 spots. Add in Cain, Wilkins, and possibly Ferrell, Bryant or Hyatt and you can get pretty high with numbers in this class. I said early that 17 or 18 was going to be the target number, but 19 was possible. That looks like the current reality. Clemson should push to have a QB transfer and expect another slot of attrition (a couple possibilities but nothing confirmed like Trapp).
Clemson will at a minimum add another two players to the class, but 3 is very likely. There is still a strong chance to get four players, and a smaller chance to add 5 or even 6.
There are a few areas the class will focus on moving forward.
WR-1 (add 0-1 if Ross)
OL-2 (add 1)
DB-1 (add 1-2)
LB-2 (add 0-1 if right player)
I start with DB because it is the biggest remaining need in the class. With the departure of Trapp Clemson only has five corners on the roster (K’von Wallace can play corner in a pinch, but is becoming entrenched at Corner and RayRay McCloud can play some corner next year if he stays). Fields, Mullen, Terrell, and Williams are your only candidates for playing time (Dawkins Jr is the other corner who is more of a Nickel/Safety in my book). That is not great depth, especially if Mullen were to leave early next year.
Kyler McMichael gives you a great start with someone who is physically ready to contribute next year and a burner. He needs technique work to stick at corner, however, I think he can get there. Kyler will start his career at CB, but he could play some Nickel very early.
All of that is to say that Clemson will definitely take one more DB, in the class and corner is still a major need.
Safety is also a need with Smith, Wallace, Muse, Simmons (he continues to come along), Johnson, and Turner. A bit more quality depth, but still needing a take in this class.
So with 2 spots likely open and needing to be filled look for Clemson to remain on a number of targets. The first is Bookie Radley-Hines who is declaring at the Army All-American bowl. He is down to Oklahoma, UCLA, Clemson, and FSU. FSU made a late push, but Oklahoma with their netting of TJ Pledger remains the favorite. Bookie is impressionable though so this will go down to the wire and he could change at the last minute. Only issue with Bookie is his 5’8/9 height, but he is a 5* and has the ball skills, technique, and instincts you want at the position.
Patrick Surtain Jr. (6’2, 195) is the highest rated CB in the class and number 5 overall in the composite, clearly the most coveted CB remaining for any school. Clemson is well positioned to land an official visit in January. LSU has been the favorite, but FSU has come on strong, as has Alabama. Ohio State has dropped, but they lost Woodbey to FSU and could try to get back in this. This will not be an easy pull for any school.
Tyson Campbell (6’2.5, 180) is still an option, despite not enjoying the Cookout. Campbell has Miami higher on the list and Georgia trying to get in the picture. Alabama could make a move here as well.
At Safety I believe current Auburn commit Matthew Hill (6’2, 185), who did not sign with Auburn on the 20th although he could have, is the highest on our board. Clemson still has their official visit to use whereas Auburn has already used up their visit. Watch this recruitment closely. I think Hill is the most likely to ultimately sign with Clemson at this point. Hill didn’t sign because there was doubt about Auburn being the right fit. He can play WR or Safety, but Clemson wants him as a Safety.
Clemson is also looking at Leon O’Neal (6’1, 195) from TX. He de-committed from A&M when Sumlin was fired. He took an official visit to A&M last week, and many think he will eventually sign with them, but I am skeptical it will be that easy. Jimbo Fisher and his staff at FSU didn’t offer O’Neal and he will need to be able to explain why things went down the way they did. Oklahoma is emerging as another viable threat.
Clemson was in play early in the process and brought O’Neal out for the elite junior day but he committed to A&M soon thereafter. Clemson first needs to get him on an official visit. UGA is also in his final four, but Oklahoma and A&M are trending.
First it is Justyn Ross (6’4, 200) or bust at WR. Ross has long had Clemson in the lead, but with Auburn and Alabama’s classes nowhere near UGA, I expect Ross will be an increased target for both. Alabama is definitely going to ratchet up their pursuit. Clemson has maintained a strong lead and if Ross had signed the 20th it would have been for Clemson. Clemson leads with Ross and his mom, which is an important part of this recruitment, but Clemson has also used up its official visit. Expect this to get tighter. I don’t see Clemson going after another WR in this class if they miss on Ross.
This is the hardest position to gauge at the time. It does look like Clemson will pursue another Tackle prospect, but with the announcement that Hearn is leaving for the NFL Draft there is a need at Guard as well as Tackle. Clemson only wants to take an elite level prospect, however, and the pickings are slim so we will see what materializes (I maintain that we should have offered Gwyn and kept him from South Carolina).
The first prospect Clemson will target is Nick Petit-Frere (6’6, 275). Petit-Frere (literally ‘little/small brother’) is going to be one of the most coveted prospects on every recruiting board going forward. He officially visited Notre Dame and Michigan, but Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, FSU and Auburn are in the mix. Clemson is also in the discussion with those schools for an official visit. This recruitment is just heating up. Petit-Frere is the composite #17 overall player and a 5*. He has continued to slowly rise up the rankings and it is justified. Good size, surprising power, and advanced technique. He just needs another 10-15 pounds and he is ready for the field.
Clemson also will try to get back with Richard Gouriage (6’6, 270). You may remember Gouriage had Clemson in his final two before deciding to pick UF(using Clemson to build some hype for his announcement a bit). He did not sign with Florida and has taken unofficial visits to Auburn and Florida. The door is cracked for Clemson to get back in the conversation.
After that I am shaking some trees and trying to leverage the Clemson brand. Clemson has tried with William Barnes and gotten nowhere. But I would give Rasheed Walker a chance or someone like Penei Sewell (although he has used up all his official visits). Wonnum might even be on the list (a top USCjr target). If not you are looking for a developmental prospect, but these guys are before you get to that level (Kavesz Sherard from TL Hana at 6’4, 310 would fit that mold).
This might be surprising, but Brent Venables always wants another good LB. I have a sneaking suspicion that Dax Hollifield (6’2, 235) is going to be in the mix. Clemson checked in on Channing Tindall before he committed to UGA. I know, I know that Hollifield and Clemson have some history, but Hollifield is the composite #138 overall player from powerhouse Shelby HS in Shelby, NC. Stanford is getting an official visit on January 12th, but I’m told a visit to Clemson could be in the works. One to watch.
Let BV have his LBs.
The class is pound for pound already great, but to fill all of our needs we need those quality DBs and another Olineman.