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What Does Clemson Need In the Class of 2019?

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With the class of 2018 almost complete, it is time to turn our attention to what could be a very spectacular class, the class of 2019. The past two years we’ve lamented the low numbers of each class. In both years Clemson has been forced to pass on extremely talented players because there just isn’t enough room. That all changes in 2019. Below is a list of players who will be in their final year of eligibility in 2018 and will depart after the season.

2018 Departing Players

Position Exhausting Eligibility Potential Early Departure
Position Exhausting Eligibility Potential Early Departure
QB
Kelly Bryant
RB
C.J. Fuller
Adam Choice
WR
Trevion Thompson Diondre Overton
Hunter Renfrow Cornell Powell
TE
Cannon Smith
Milan Richard
OL
Mitch Hyatt
Justin Falcinelli
DT
Jabril Robinson Dexter Lawrence
Christian Wilkins
Albert Huggins
DE
Richard Yeargin Clelin Ferrell
Chris Register
Austin Bryant
LB
Jalen Williams
Judah Davis
Kendall Joseph
J.D. Davis
CB
Mark Fields
S N/A
ST
Alex Spence

As you can see, that is an extensive list. 21 players will be exahusting their eligibility and I’ve identified another 4 that could possibly leave early. Lawrence and Ferrell seem locks to leave early and I included Overton and Powell just because receivers seem like the obvious candidate. But that gives Clemson 23-25 scholarships for the 2019 class.

And this doesn’t even factor in transfers that will occur during the rest of 2018 or even into the spring of 2019. This class could easily jump to 28 or more depending on how things go. So the good news is the coaching staff is going to have plenty of opportunities to offer guys, they won’t have to be selective or slow play anyone.

But just as important as numbers is where those scholarships are allocated. With such a big class it is critical to nail the needs of the roster. Below are the numbers heading into 2019 for each position and our thoughts on the numbers to go along with a recommended number to recruit. Note this is assuming Clemson adds a WR and OL to the class of 2018 and does not account for early departures.

QB: 5 - Take 1

Just because of numbers and transfers Clemson should take a QB every year. Even if no one transfers, highly unlikely, you never know how QBs will perform and it is better to be proactive.

RB: 3 - Take 2

This is a big need for Clemson in 2019. Don’t be surprised if Ty Thomason keeps his scholarship just because of numbers in 2018 where Clemson will have 5 RBs. Even if he keeps his scholarship Clemson ideally wants 5 RBs on the roster and 6 in this case would be perfectly fine. As good as Etienne and Feaster are Clemson needs to plan for the future here.

WR: 7 - Take 2-3

Assuming Ross signs and Powell and Overton stay Clemson still needs another 2 WR. A third might not be a bad idea just to guard against potential defections in 2020.

TE: 4 - Take 1

This is a case of being proactive. Garrett Williams’ injury in 2017 gives him a redshirt which means he will be around for 2018 and 2019. But to help even things out Clemson should be taking 1 TE each year.

OL: 13 - Take 4-5

Once again we’ll hammer this home, take 4-5 OL every year. It has been a few years since Clemson has done that and it creates problems. Ideally Clemson would add 3 blue chip guys and 1-2 more developmental OL prospects. Frankly anything less than 4 would be a huge letdown in this class.

DT: 5 - Take 3

DT is going to be another critical position of need in 2019. Assuming Lawrence goes pro Clemson will only have 4 DTs on the roster heading into the 2019 season. Clemson has to take at least 3, maybe even 4 just to get the numbers up at DT. If you’re ranking position prioirity DT is likely #2, ahead of RB and behind the OL.

DE: 8 - Take 2

Luckily Clemson loaded up at DE in the 2018 class so 2019 won’t be as much of a need. To round out numbers and replace Ferrell Clemson should grab 2 DEs here. We could get away with 0-1 guys, but really it seems silly to do so when there is enough room in the class.

LB: 7 - Take 1

Linebacker has always been a bit of a glut position the last few seasons. Thankfully that ends after 2018. Clemson will be losing 4 LBs after the 2018 season and still have 7 on the roster. I recommend taking 1 here, but with the play in the roster this would be a good spot to take an extra player.

It is also worth mentioning that because of Brent Venables runs the SAM LB position there may be more LBs or fewer LBs than previous years. It really depends on the fit of the recruits and if Clemson will be using a SAM LB, a Nickel CB, or even another safety in some position.

CB: 6 - Take 1-2

Clemson really could have used another secondary player in the class of 2018, but they’ll have to makeup for it here. Luckily Clemson will be able to offer a lot of immediate playing time and ideally 1-2 CBs will ultimately sign with Clemson.

S: 4 - Take 1-2

There is no way to spin it, Van Smith leaving early hurts Clemson, but it seems like they will have to wait until the class of 2019 to really replace him. I say take 1-2 guys here in the class, but really this should be a 2-3 to be on the safe side. One of the hard parts with DBs in general is that a guy recruited at either position coming out of HS may switch because of physical traits or needs of the program. But with 4-5 DBs on the field at all times you ideally want 12-15 guys on the roster.

ST: 3 - Take 0

Huegel, Potter, and Spiers will all be around for 2019. There is no need to add anyone else on special teams with every role filled by a scholarship player.

If Clemson takes the maximum at each position the class would be 22 players. That gives the staff some room to oversign at some positions depending on class quality. I’d definitely go with another DB, another LB, and then kinda go from there. Obviously any transfers the staff knows of or suspects will also add to these numbers and dictate where offers go. But the important thing is that the staff hits some of these minimum numbers not only for the 2019 season, but to set the roster up for the future.