After signing a “hidden gem” at Running back in each of the last 2 recruiting cycles, Clemson signed the talented Chez Mellusi on Wednesday. Hailing from Naples, FL, the 4-star opted for the Tigers just a week after he was offered. Clemson beat out the likes of Notre Dame and Miami for the Floridian’s signature. Mellusi is rated by 24/7 sports’ composite ranking as the 210th rated player nationally, which is probably a tad underrated, but not super far off.
The question everyone is probably wondering is: Did Clemson hit another home run in the Running back evaluation department? I’m not going to sit here and say Chez is going to take the team by storm the way the previous 2 RB takes have, but he is still a blue chip running back prospect that fits very well into what Clemson likes to do on Offense.
Mellusi’s High school runs a wonky-system that makes it a little difficult to see just how good Mellusi is (sounds like a RB Clemson signed out of Louisiana in 2017), however, one can still see Mellusi’s talent shine despite this. Chez has very good long speed and burst, and is a home-run threat once he reaches the second-level. He looks to be a one cut and go type Running back, and is also a very capable weapon as a receiver too. He’s tough to bring down, and can be physical when needed. I do not believe the 205 pounds he is listed at on 24/7 Sports to be accurate, and actually think he is much less than that. Rivals has him listed at closer to 175 pounds and that seems much more accurate given that his frame is narrow.
Much like Travis Etienne, Chez will need to learn how to protect in passing situations as he hasn’t had to for his High School team. Mellusi may not be able to contribute as a Freshman depending on where he weighs in at in the Fall, but he has potential to eventually be a starter at Clemson, and a big receiving weapon out of the backfield or even in the slot.
Mellusi’s Senior highlights can be found here:
Tony Elliott continues to defy the odds. The man is stingy with his RB offers, so much so, that even Dabo has commented on it. And what is insane is that Elliott has tried to take other RBs instead of ETN and Dixon, but these guys fell to him after he didn’t get his backup player. Darrian Felix (the player TE wanted instead of ETN) just sat out much of his Soph season with a foot injury.
All of that is to echo Tommy’s comments—Elliott might have done it again with Chez. This time he got his guy early in the cycle, allowing for fishing for an elite second RB take (still to be determined). The triple option-ish Naples running game hurts how Mellusi is perceived nationally, but the kid is productive. He breaks tackles. Great balance and body control. Surprisingly good hands out of the backfield. His acceleration in and out of cuts is elite. He is like ETN a bit, where his top end speed isn’t as great as his burst, but that is only against elite competition and he does have above average long speed.
One thing that stands out to me is his ability to run falling forward, showing that great balance. Even down the field, and after long runs, he is able to break tackles. He also has played some wide receiver in high school and could be an effective pass catcher out of the backfield. Naples offense does get their players in open space a lot (I love their system at the HS level, and their Oline play) so Chez will need to learn to run between the tackles from more traditional formations and will need to develop his lower body further. You can’t teach his elite burst or ability to cut, however.
The only question for Mellusi is will all of these traits and talents translate with another 15-20 pounds added to his frame. It did for ETN and Dixon. Mellusi should redshirt if he can’t gain the mass, but could contribute in his redshirt freshman year.