DB/RB Kyler McMichael (6'1, 190) from Greater Atlanta Christian HS in Norcross, GA committed to Clemson's coaches earlier in the week and announced early Friday morning. This is Clemson’s 11th overall recruit for the class of 2018. McMichael is ranked as the composite number 106 player overall (4*) in the nation but that number is dragged down by Scout having him as 279 overall. In the past recruiting rankings update from sites McMichael has shot up from being a top 250 player to being in the top 100. He blew up in the Spring as teams and camps got to see him as a corner and not just a running back. 247 and Rivals have him in the top 100 at number 80 and 72 respectively. ESPN has him ranked at 118. I believe he definitely belongs belongs in the top 100.
Coach Reed was the initial recruiter of record, but Coach Conn also deserves a lot of credit here as well. If Jefferies was Coach Bates first real feather in his cap, then I think McMichael can be considered the same for Conn. After Kyler visited Tennessee last week he realized it was time to shut down his recruitment and secure his spot on Clemson's roster. Kyler was aware that he needed to get his visits in before fully committing to Clemson. Tennessee was never a real player in his recruitment, simply happy to have him on campus, but the visit helped solidify Clemson's position at the top and need to finish the recruiting process.
Alabama was the school that posed the biggest threat to Clemson from my understanding. Bama really wanted McMichael and they felt good about their positioning up until Wednesday when McMichael cancelled a visit that was scheduled for Saturday with the Crimson Tide. After inexplicably losing S Xavier McKinney to Bama last year, it must feel good for Clemson’s coaches to wrap this up. Georgia was the in-state threat, but the Bulldogs could never usurp Clemson as McMichael’s leader throughout the process. Clemson has now gone into the state of Georgia in consecutive recruiting cycles and landed top rated DBs (picking up 5* AJ Terrell and 4* LeAnthony Williams last year). That trend of Clemson beating UGA for their top talent looks to continue in 2019 as well.
Clemson’s family atmosphere resonated strongly with McMichael and his family. The new facility that helped to augment that pitch didn’t hurt either. McMichael was one of the first recruits to see the facility and that helped cement Clemson’s early lead that they would not relinquish.
WHAT CLEMSON GETS
Clemson is going to be taking three defensive backs in this class and McMichael gives the staff a versatile player that Clemson can line up at Corner, Nickel, or Safety. He played running back, corner and safety in high school. As a Sophomore he played a lot at corner on an island so he knows the position. McMichael had offers from every major program in the nation from Ohio State and Auburn to FSU, LSU and Michigan with Alabama being the last big power school to offer in late February.
With regards to position, Clemson (along with other schools who were desperate to get back into position with him) threw out the possibility of playing RB or offense in college after mastering the DB positions. But I have a hard time seeing him play RB in college ultimately. He will likely start his career at corner and that is where he has the most value and upside. He is a fine high school running back (I mean he rushed for close to 1500 yards and scored 16 TDs last year as a junior), but he has NFL caliber upside at corner. He ran a laser timed 4.57 40 time and had the 5th highest SPARQ rating for the Opening qualifiers nationally so you can see his athleticism (that 40 time was in the top ten overall).
As you probably know by now, Clemson prefers corners with length and values the ability to play multiple positions in the secondary. Kyler is already pretty physically developed and put together. He won’t need a lot of time to physically transition to the college game. He can hold up in run support. As a running back and kick returner he is shifty and elusive, making quick cuts. Speed and athleticism are his top traits right now. His technique will need polish, but his backpedal is fluid and he has the desired suddenness and ability to flip his hips.
Clemson also gets momentum heading into next month and the “All In Cookout” phase of the recruiting calendar. Clemson likes to have their recruiting class largely in place before Fall camp and this year they will try to do the same (and likely succeed, should be a fun month for recruiting).