Secondary Protocol (pun intended):
Quindarious Monday (6’3 175 ATH Atlanta,GA) is a Tiger. If you would have made this statement without me knowing which school he actually chose, I would have assumed he just got off the phone with Coach Swinney or Coach Venebles telling them how much he couldn’t wait to come to Clemson. In fact, most folks that have been following Clemson’s pursuit of Monday would have likely thought the same thing. The latest reports on the heat-seeking-missile-of-a safety leading up to his announcement suggested that he was bordering on a “lock” (if there really is such a thing in recruiting high school aged kids) for Clemson. Even if he didn’t say so publicly, the signs were there. Then, late one Tuesday evening the announcement unexpectedly came: Quindarious Monday is a Tiger. Unfortunately he’s not the good sort of Tiger; one of the Purple and Orange variety. He’s an Auburn Tiger and Quacking Tiger said it best: “It was a gut punch”. In interviews, Monday had referred to Clemson as a “dream school” and had nothing but rave reviews. Clemson had recently hosted Monday for a visit, with another visit scheduled just a few weeks later and a commitment to his school of choice all but imminent. Whatever Kevin Steele and the Auburn staff said to Quindarious while he was visiting, they made certain Monday would never make that next visit to Clemson. Although Auburn may have won this small battle… come September 9th we will see who ultimately wins the war.
Although this one stings a little in the short term, the Tigers (the good ones) are the defending National Champions and Clemson is still attracting recruiting interest from elite talent all over the country. Clemson will waste little time moving on to other DB targets high on their board. Picking up a commitment from Kyler McMichael (6’1 196 S Norcross, GA) recently gave the Tigers a huge boost as McMichael is an incredibly versatile athlete. Originally ranked as an ATH, he’s now listed as a CB but personally I think he projects as a Safety in our defense with his size and skill set. Either way, he can fill multiple spots of need in this class which allows the staff to be more flexible and selective with who else they want to target. I would expect to take at least one more player in the secondary this year, ideally two more. Anthony Cook (6’0 170 CB Houston, TX) would be a great place to start. The latest chatter is that Clemson may be trending upwards for Cook at this point in his recruitment. It’s interesting to note that Cook may be choosing to attend Clemson’s All-In Cookout over Ohio State’s (his likely leader up to this point) premier recruiting event, which is on the same day. It’s also interesting that among Cook’s perceived top schools, Texas is the only in-state school that is high on the list. This suggests that Cook may be very comfortable with the idea of playing at a school that is not necessarily close to home. Expect a decision from Cook sooner rather than later- and look for Clemson to pick up some serious momentum with Anthony and his family following The Cookout. Two other Cookout-hopefuls to look out for at this point are a pair of 5-star DB’s in Patrick Surtain Jr (6’2 180 CB Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and Tyson Campbell (6’2 180 CB Ft. Lauderdale, FL). If you noticed the double “Ft. Lauderdale,” no it’s not a just a coincidence; they are actually teammates together at American Heritage high school. Can you imagine being an opposing H.S. QB throwing on that team? Clemson remains firmly in the mix with both guys, but if I had to answer today I like our chances with Campbell slightly better; there’s a lot of ground to be made up with Surtain Jr against other schools at this stage of his recruitment. Also expect the coaches to stay in contact with previous safety targets that have committed elsewhere. Derrik Allen and Leon O’Neal come to mind along with the aforementioned Quindarious Monday. Other dark horse names to look out for at the position are Isheem Young and Trey Dean.
Much ado about nothing:
While we are on the subject of The Cookout, I just want to touch on one thing briefly. As everyone is anxiously awaiting the final list of who is/isn’t attending this year, a pair of notable names have already ruled themselves out. 5-star Justyn Ross (6’4 197 WR Phenix City, AL) and 5-star KJ Henry (6’5 235 WDE Clemmons, NC) are both high (I mean really high) on Clemson’s remaining targets board regardless of position, and are both going to miss Clemson’s premier recruiting event of the Summer. Another thing they both have in common? Both have repeatedly and emphatically stated that there’s nothing to see here folks, move along. Ironically they are both out for the same reason, they have prior scheduling conflicts with their respective 7v7 teams that they want to honor. Commendable to say the least. In the words of Aaron Rodgers… R-E-L-A-X everybody. I am convinced that both would be there if they could, and both are likely to give Clemson an official visit come this Fall.
Henry was impressive at The Opening Finals, showing off his elite speed and elusive pass rushing abilities. It was great to see him spending time with Clemson commit SDE Xavier Thomas (Finals Defensive MVP) as the two friends have made it no big secret that they would love to play together at the next level. Clemson is incredibly talented on their defensive front, but has recently suffered some attrition with the departures of players like Scott Pagano, Richard Yeargin, and LaSamuel Davis. They will likely see several more departures after this season, which presents a position of need on the recruiting trail and an opportunity for talented guys like KJ Henry to come in and compete early. Look for Clemson to stay at or near the top of Henry’s list until the end.
I really, really, like where Clemson is positioned with Ross right now. Although he is working with a Top 5 of Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Florida St, I expect the first three teams I named to be the biggest players by the end of his recruitment. Rarely does Alabama get beat out for top in-state talent (or out-of-state for that matter), but Bama also rarely gets beat out in National Championship games and we all know what happened this past January. Clemson has been a factory for developing NFL caliber receivers over recent years and Ross has certainly taken notice of “WRU”. Combine that with a budding relationship with QB Trevor Lawrence, a relatively close distance from home (about a 3 hour drive), and Mom’s stamp of approval and Coach Swinney & Co may just hand Nick Saban his second big loss of 2017.
In other news, since the last time we spoke:
-4-star Devontae Dobbs (6’4 270 OT Belleville, MI) picked up an offer from Clemson after visiting on Friday according to his Twitter account. Dobbs is sitting as the #1 OT and #18 Overall player for the 2019 cycle. I plan to touch on a lot more 2019 class developments next week, so stay tuned.
-4-star Adam Anderson (6’4 OLB Rome, GA) released a Top-5 of Alabama, Florida, Clemson, Tennessee, and Georgia on his Twitter account last week. Anderson previously committed to UGA, before flipping to LSU, and then subsequently de-committing and releasing this top group. Clemson is not a major player here, with LB Jake Venebles and LB Mike Jones Jr already on board at the linebacker position for this class.
-An interesting development at the running back position occurred when Asa Martin (5’11.5 195 APB Decatur, AL) announced that he would be making a visit to Clemson next week. Clemson has yet to offer an uncommitted back since the Zamir White saga ended with a dud, and is still searching for an elite back to add to this special 2018 class. Offers were extended to previously targeted RB’s Master Teague and Lyn-J Dixon recently, but they have committed to Ohio St and Tennessee respectively and have shown no signs of wavering thus far. Martin represents a prime target for Clemson. He’s the #10 RB and #215 Overall player in his class by 24/7 Composite. If you watch some of his film, he’s a perfect match for what Tony Elliot likes to do with his running backs. He has the big size that Elliot covets, but doesn’t lack in speed and has great cutting ability. He catches the ball out of the backfield extremely well; he legitimately has some ball skills you find at the wide receiver position. One part of his game that I love in particular is his ability to step up in pass protection. I believe that will be a part of his game he excels at, and he should have a shorter learning curve than some in that regard. This guy is a serious talent, Tiger fans. If Martin’s visit goes well this week and the Tigers decide to jump in the mix for his services with an offer, they will once again be facing a familiar foe on the recruiting trail- he is likely the top RB target currently on Alabama’s board. Other schools in play are Auburn and Florida.