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Clemson Recruiting Mailbag: Getting Ready for the Early Signing Period

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Pittsburgh Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we solicited questions from readers for a mailbag. Below are the questions and answers from our recruiting staff on all things about Clemson recruiting.

Who are our main targets on the OL? And will we just take projects to fill the spots? (Vintigers81)

(Tommy K) The most frustrating thing about Offensive Line recruiting up to this point in my eyes is that we haven’t cast a very wide net at all. It’s tough to pin down exactly who we will target after the ESP because only one (yes one) offer has gotout since Clemson missed on Webb. That’s inexcusable considering there are plenty of Offensive Lineman who are not planning to sign early. JD Duplain of Ohio is probably a name to watch going forward, as is Darius Washington from Florida. Both are 3-stars, but Ohio State nearly took Duplain’s commitment so it’s not as though he’s a major project. The staff has been aware of Washington for months but has yet to pull the trigger on an offer. This is frustrating because by now, other schools have, and it will set Clemson behind the 8-ball in his recruitment. I expect Clemson to land TE Cameron Fritzche, who unlike the aforementioned 2 is a major project.

(Anthony) Putnam has been talked about extensively on this site but unfortunately seems to be trending away from Clemson in the eleventh hour but Clemson isn’t going down without swinging. He’d be another big miss in offensive line recruiting if Clemson loses out on him.

Fritzsche is very new to the recruiting board and not the same type of blue chip prospect Putnam or Clay Webb are. He does have a great 6’7’’ frame but Joey Batson & Co would have to convert him from a tight ends body to a tackle body before he can contribute at Clemson. Think of him as at least a 2 but more likely 3 year project. As with most jumbo TE to tackle conversions, he shows plus athletic ability for a man his size but the question becomes will it hold as he puts on weight in the future. High potential long term, low/no impact early. This is a Clemson-Nebraska battle right now that is trending away from Clemson at the moment. He signs tomorrow at noon.

(Grant) Our 2019 offensive line class has been very weak. Hunter Rayburn is the lone OL commit of the 2019 class. Right now, William Putnam is undecided, but it does not look like he will be committing to Clemson. However, 2020 is already looking much more promising. The Tigers have already secured commitments from three four-star OL. As for future prospects, I could see Clemson going after a number of guys. I really think that Clemson should go after Turner Corcoran. Right now, it looks like Corcoran is headed to Columbus, but with Urban Meyer leaving the program, it could leave to door open for Clemson to snag the four-star offensive tackle.

Looking at the current roster, commits, and performance, what does our OL depth chart looklike for 2020 (ArchimedesScrew)

(Tommy K) This question is why I get so frustrated when people tell me, “trust the coaches and it will be fine”, because they obviously don’t understand the severity of the situation. With the exceptions of Blake Vinson, Jackson Carman, and Matt Bockhorst, it’s difficult to project the other 2 OL starters. Clemson will either have to have 2 of Hunter Rayburn (rsFR), Jordan McFadden (rsSO), Noah Dehond (rsJR), Cade Stewart (rsSR), and/or Chandler Reeves (rsSR) start, or land a few immediate contributors in the 2020 class. This is so far from ideal. I believe current Clemson commit Paul Tchio can contribute as a freshman, but I don’t think he’s ready for a starting job. This is why landing either Will Putnam or Clay Webb was so important. There are a whole lot of unknowns on the Clemson OL depth chart at the moment, and it’s difficult for me to feel comfortable for Trevor’s protection during his 3rd and final season as of now.

(Anthony) You sure you want to talk about this? Are you positive? It’s not encouraging.

I’m admittedly not an OL expert but I’ll give it a shot.

The projected 2 deep I have is...

LT - Carman (JR) / Vinson (RS JR)

LG - Bockhorst (RS JR) / Tchio (FR)

C - Rayburn (RS FR)/ TBD???

RG - Stewart (RS SR) / Cash (RS FR)

RT - McFadden (RS SO) / Reeves (RS SR)

You have to feel comfortable with Carman and Bockhorst. Returns on McFadden have been great so far. The rest is essentially ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in my mind. I have Cash moving to interior line here purely based on message board speculation. The depth concerns here are real. Caldwell, for all the recruiting flack we give him, has consistently developed his guys to be solid contributors. Let’s hope that trend continues.

How much of an effect do you think Mack Brown will have on our recruiting, if any at all? (willwharper)

(Tommy K) The program it will really hurt is actually NC State. State was beginning to keep the state’s biggest fish at home, and now Mack Brown to UNC will help keep prospects in the state, just not to the program Doeren imagined. Brown hired a very good staff that will do some damage on the trail, but I still feel of Dabo really wants a prospect out of that state he will get him unless other factors are involved. Every prospect is different, and NC kids that value academics very highly will likely be tougher pulls than they were previously.

(Anthony) Mack has hired a great cast of coaches and recruiters, particularly former Texas A&M tight ends coach and ace recruiter Tim Brewster. I think UNC will pop up in a couple of future battles but I doubt they will be real contenders for our top of the board targets in the next few cycles. That is a team depleted of talent that will require a 3-5 year makeover to be competitive again. Additionally, North Carolina isn’t Georgia or Florida in terms of high school talent. Mack will focus first on winning the battles with NCSU, Duke, and Wake before turning his attention to the blue bloods.

(Grant) Obviously he will have some impact, but I am not sure how big of an impact he will have. Clemson has proved to be one of the best recruiting schools in all of college football. It will take time for Mack Brown to create that UNC. Until then, I don’t think anybody at Clemson will lose sleep over it.

What’s the biggest turn down, not miss, that the coaching staff has made for someone who wanted to play at Clemson (rare breed of cat)

(Anthony) There are actually quite a few recent names that come to mind for me here. A strict turn down is tough to come by but I’m going to include obvious slow plays here as well.

Kevin Harris is a top-100 defensive end this year who we turned away after initially offering. He would be our current top ranked DL had we accepted that commitment.

Derrik Allen was a c/o 2018 top-100 safety we slowed played and lost to Notre Dame. Coaches tried to get the flip late but his commitment was strong. Would love to have him for depth on this team.

We were thought of as leaders at some point this cycle for Pierce Quick, Harry Miller, Keiondre Jones, and Wanya Morris. Slow played them all and lost them all.

Channing Tindall was the top linebacker in the state of South Carolina last year and Clemson was very late to offer. He was a late bloomer and Clemson prioritized Mike Jones Jr. here. Tindall ended up being a 5-star per 247 and played extensively for UGA during his true freshman year in 2018.

I’m also going to include Shai Werts here. You may remember Werts as the dynamic triple option QB for Georgia Southern earlier this year. Clemson offered him strictly as an athlete, not a QB, and he chose to go elsewhere. Not necessarily a miss here because he wouldn’t have played QB for us, but I would have loved to have had another competitive athlete at a skill position.

(Grant) Good question. I would have liked to see Clemson go after Kardell Thomas. Thomas is a five-star offensive lineman who would have boosted the poor OL class. In addition to that, Thomas attends the same high school that Bryton Constantin does. I am not sure if Thomas had any interest in Clemson, but it would have been fun to see him attend the same school as someone who he probably faced in practice countless times.