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Clemson Football Recruiting Scholarship Update

NCAA Football: Clemson Spring Game Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

After all of the recruiting and scholarship news from this weekend it is time to take an updated look at the scholarship numbers for the Class of 2018. As we’ve hit on many times over the past year, Clemson has very limited scholarships available for this class. While we all hope transfers and early departures will give us more scholarships, history tells us that is unlikely.

But let’s recap. Right now Clemson has 82 of the 85 scholarships filled for the 2017 season. One of those scholarships is going to go to a walk-on punter leaving 2 to be filled by walk ons. Those scholarships will just be for the 2017 season and will become available for the Class of 2018.

Dabo also announced this weekend that OL Noah Green would be taking a medical hardship. He will retain his scholarship for the remainder of his time at Clemson, but he no longer counts against the 85 man limit. His scholarship will also be given to a walk on and available for the 2018 class leaving Clemson with 3 scholarships.

Now we look at seniors. After the departure of Baker and Pagano, we’ll get to him later, Clemson has 7 seniors remaining. Those guys will all leave and Clemson will have 10 scholarships available for the 2018 class. There have been some rumblings about if Pagano will actually transfer from Clemson or not. If he stays none of these numbers change. 2017 will be his final year of eligibility and his scholarship will be free for the 2018 class if he leaves or stays.

The one thing that will be interesting to see over the 2017 season is the early departures for the NFL Draft. The obvious candidates are Mitch Hyatt and Christian Wilkins. That would give Clemson 12 scholarships. Let’s say another 2 guys leave. Maybe one of the receivers and another guy on the DL, likely Ferrell if it is anyone. Clemson is now at 14 scholarships but with so much potential in this class the pipe dream number would be 20 scholarships.

At this point we are back to hoping for graduate transfers as well as transfers from young guys who want to find playing time elsewhere. And that is where it gets dicey. Plenty of guys would be good candidates, but for a lot of them we just don’t know if they will graduate after 4 years at Clemson and for others if they are truly interested in getting playing time elsewhere. It is easy for us to see a backup only getting 100 snaps a year and thinking, “He should go elsewhere for more playing time.” But the player may be fine with his spot on the team. He could want to be at Clemson and has no desire to leave. It happens and Coach Swinney isn’t going to, nor should he, move these guys along.

Clemson now sits at 8 commits for the Class of 2018. That leaves 2 guaranteed scholarships available for recruits. NFL departures should get us another 4 leaving us 6 scholarships to spread among this highly rated class. If we are lucky Clemson can get another 2-3 out of transfers. But this class is going to be special, and if enough players transfer from Clemson and we somehow get to 20 scholarships it could be historic.

We may even need those spots. Right now Clemson has to recruit at least 3 OL because of departures and ideally 4. Before Green’s departure it was 2-3. The Tigers will only have 6 DTs when Josh Belk arrives next year, we need at least 1 more and ideally 2 more. DE should be ok even with the departure of Ferrell. We would have 10 guys on the roster including the class of 2018. But just at these positions we need 6 scholarships. That’s to say nothing about RB, WR, and S. All positions where another take would be nice. That gets us to 17 scholarships to fill needs but Clemson just doesn’t have them available. We’ll continue to monitor this, but unless we get some surprise defections it will be hard to see Clemson completely meeting needs with the Class of 2018.