Darnell Jefferies (6’2.5—really just a shade under 6’3, 280) from Covington, GA, Newton HS.
This was a long time coming. Clemson coaches have felt that Jefferies has been firmly in the commitment list for months now. I strongly suggested back in February that Clemson had a commanding lead, stating this:
Clemson remains in a commanding position despite Jefferies claiming no public leader. DJ has been to Clemson a bunch of times during the Spring, four by my count, which is a lot for any prospect interested in Clemson (both with regards to the prospect and with the coaching staff). Clemson’s coaches have not felt the need to push DJ into a commitment, opting to let Jefferies continue to enjoy the process.
Clemson wisely remained patient and allowed Darnell to enjoy the process. He knew before committing that he needed to take all his visits. To be clear, I’m sure there was a bit of antacids being taking when Jefferies recently visited Georgia and Alabama for visits. Alabama, in particular, was very interested in having Jefferies continue with the process and wanted to string him along. Jefferies blew up this Spring as a prospect for a reason. Clemson beat both Alabama and Georgia for his commitment. He is a composite 3 star player, ranked number 386 overall. I would have him as a 4* prospect knocking on that 250 rank depending on his senior year I don’t think 200-250 is too high.
What Clemson Gets
Jefferies is still developing as a prospect, but I like his upside more than a lot of other DT’s that recruiting services have listed above him. This isn’t a particularly strong DT class in my mind, but Clemson evaluated the field and grabbed their guy after Taron Vincent dropped to Ohio State. Clemson wasn’t going to touch Sandidge and Matthew Jones isn’t a prospect that Clemson was going to go the distance with and may be better suited as an OG longterm. One name to keep tucked away is Thomas Booker depending on how the defensive line board shakes out. There is a strong possibility that the coaches end up taking 5 defensive lineman when all is said and done.
In high school Jefferies plays a hybrid LB role in a 3-4 scheme, playing decently in space. He carries 280 pounds very well and shows quick feet and plus athleticism for a lineman. There is a lot to work with here. Jefferies carries his weight really well at this point. Darnell is still a developmental prospect, however, and will require some time to develop in college. He needs to learn to play with his hand in the ground and play with better leverage consistently. But he has shown in camp settings that he has the ability to be 3-tech DT. Jefferies could end up being a versatile player who can play the 3 and 5 tech positions, but inside is where Clemson wants him and where his value should ultimately develop.
Again, I like Jefferies value as an underrated prospect in a weak DT class. Lots of recruiting services were caught off guard by Jefferies meteoric rise in offers in the Spring and take a kind of prove it to me approach to evaluation before giving the prospect a bump. Jefferies also hasn’t been to a ton of camps for the recruitniks to evaluate him. He also needs to be a more dominant force in games.
Coach Todd Bates Emerges
Credit for his recruitment largely goes to Coach Bates. I think this shows Bates ability to recruit against the strong teams in college football, and it is a positive sign for Clemson. Since the other top assistant coach recruiters on the team are OC’s in Scott and Elliott. Normally your ace recruiter is your TE coach (and we all know that aspect of the staff isn’t going to change much), so Bates needs to be a quality recruiter. Landing Jefferies is definitely a feather in his cap and he deserves a lot of credit. This recruitment was also aided by Justin Mascoll who is good friends with Darnell. The two will help solidify their commitments. Mascoll has been recently courted by FSU, for example.
BT Potter (5’11, 175) from South Pointe, SC
I have long been on the BT Potter hype train. Normally I agree with the way the coaching staff approaches scholarship allocation with regards to special teams players. You try to pick up as many ‘free agents’ as possible with preferred walk-ons, tryouts, and transfers. The transition from high school kicker to college kicker can be extremely tricky and difficult. See Richard Jackson and Alex Spence as recent examples.
If you are going to give out a scholarship, you want a player who can perform multiple duties. Potter can do kickoffs, field goals, and could be a punter in time. Potter, next year, will be the best kickoff specialist on the team. At the recent 2017 Southern Spring Showcase BT averaged 71.5 yards on his kickoffs and he also gets decent hang-time. Our kick coverage was greatly improved last year—greatly improved. But we still gave up big kick returns to Ohio State, a few others here and there, and pooch kicked to Alabama much of the game. Potter also has a strong leg with field goals. At the same Southern Spring Showcase, he won the field goal competition with the longest field goal of 67 yards. Also charted 8 out of 10 in the charting period of that session. Check out the video below—you can see plenty of height and distance on his kicks.
BT went to Clemson’s camp and earned a scholarship, kicking in front of coaches. We will see how all of the numbers work out with scholarships this year (I’m sure there is still an outside possibility that this will end up being a grayshirt or winter enrollment deal), but I am ecstatic to have Potter officially on the board.