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Projecting Clemson’s Recruiting for the Class of 2019

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already spent a lot of time talking about how small Clemson’s class of 2018 is likely to be. The good news is that 2018 will be the last small class at Clemson for the next few years. The class of 2019 looks to be rather large. Right now Clemson has 27 juniors or redshirt juniors. Even if some leave early after the 2017 season Clemson should easily have a class of 20 plus recruits.

But as we’ve always said, the number of recruits isn’t as important as meeting needs. As we’ve seen in previous seasons not taking enough OLs or DEs or CBs creates some real problems. Because of this it is worth taking a look at the position numbers and see how Clemson’s 2019 class could turn out.

The table below is a best guess at how Clemson’s roster will look after the 2018 season. I tried to avoid projecting too much about transfers and early departures to the NFL draft for the 2018 season. A few, like Dexter Lawrence, are obvious candidates, but most of the other players would be shots in the dark. I also put my own guesses on ideal numbers at each position. Some of these numbers, especially in the defensive backfield, are personal preferences and can depend on the exact recruits. At LB, CB, and safety the exact numbers depend on who will play the NB spot in Brent Venable’s defense and where they are classified. But ideally between the 3 positions we want 21 guys on scholarship.

Clemson Roster Breakdown

Position On Roster Ideal Number 2019 Needs
Position On Roster Ideal Number 2019 Needs
QB 5 4 -1
RB 3 6 3
WR 6 10 4
TE 3 5 2
OL 14 17 3
DE 7 9 2
DT 3 9 6
LB 6 8 2
CB 7 9 2
S 4 6 2
ST 1 2 1

So the first thing that will jump out to everyone is that even after the 2018 season Clemson has “too many” QBs. I say this in quotes because the truth is that you can never have too many QBs. The goal is to recruit at least 1 QB per season. So even though Clemson already has 5 QBs, assuming no transfers, they should still go after one in 2019.

Running back is going to be interesting. Right now Clemson is already 1 RB down. After the 2018 season both C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice will be gone. At best Clemson is going to get 1 RB for the class of 2018 and depending on how the process plays out they may not get any. That will leave Clemson searching for 3 RBs in 2019. That’s a lot of RBs to bring in for a single class when you ideally want 1-2 guys max per class.

WR and TE are also going to be positions to watch because the junior class has so many players. WR will hopefully sort itself out a bit with some players leaving early after 2017. Again the concern here isn’t that Clemson can’t find enough quality players in one class but more that evening out the numbers across all 4 years helps prevent a repeat of the small classes of 2017 and 2018. It also ensures experienced players are ready to step up and the team doesn’t have to rely on 3-4 freshman at one position.

The OL is pretty standard assuming Clemson takes 3 OL at minimum in the 2018 class. We’ve said it a number of times that every recruiting class should take at least 3 OL. Ideally you take 4-5 each year but given the tight numbers for Clemson some years 3 is at least understandable.

On the defensive side of the ball, DE should be ok. Clemson will once again be looking for 2-3 DEs. It helps that the 2018 class already has some pretty talented guys committed as well as Clelin Ferrell being the only early departure candidate right now. Unfortunately DT looks a lot more dire right now. Barring some class of 2018 commits, Clemson will be looking for 6 DTs for 2019. That is not comforting at all. Especially when the guys on the roster will be Sterling Johnson, Josh Belk, Nyles Pinkcney. Not exactly a fearsome group. This is the downside of not taking any DTs for a year. Had Clemson brought in even 1 DT for the class of 2017 there would be some breathing room. But much like with the OL there should be 2-3 DTs and 2-3 DEs taken each year.

The defensive backfield is where we see some good news though. At LB Clemson will finally start to shed some of the ridiculous numbers due to dead weight. Getting 2 LBs in 2019 will be more than enough and assuming the current roster talent works out then these guys can ride the bench and learn.

CB and safety are in a similar spot. Both positions will need 2 players in the 2019 class and that should allow Clemson to grab some great talent without having to turn away too many players.

Finally special teams, I’m a huge advocate of having at least 2 guys on scholarship. Ideally a punter and a kicker. If you have enough talented kickers then a third guy on scholarship is fine as well. It would be nice if Clemson could go out and recruit a proper kicker or punter depending on needs. Sometimes you miss on these guys, but the strategy of just working out walkons is dangerous.

Now right not this adds up 28 scholarships. If you missed it, the NCAA is likely to pass a rule this year limiting signing classes to no more than 25 players in a single year. This would cause problems for Clemson, but teams are still allowed to essentially back date any early enrollees. Clemson will likely have at least 3 players enrolling in January of 2019 and those guys could count as part of the 2018 class for the purpose of these rules. But ideally some of these guys will transfer or leave early so the scholarships can be used to bolster the class of 2018. That will allow Clemson to recruit an extremely deep 2017 class and even out their numbers for the future, the best of both worlds really.