The Early Signing Period is now past us, and leaving with it were roughly 80% of all high school prospects. College programs will now have a much smaller talent pool than before to try and fill their remaining needs in the 2019 class. Clemson has thankfully been able to fill most of their own already, however, there are a few more spots available that the Tigers would like to try and utilize before the next national signing day in February.
Some positions, such as Wide Receivers are already full and as a result the coaches do not need to search for anymore takes. Other positions like along the Offensive Line are still incomplete, and will be a focus over the next six to seven weeks. In this piece we’ll focus on who Clemson will target down the stretch, along with their chances of landing each one.
OL looks better, but a Tackle is still needed
Landing Will Putnam and Kaleb Boateng during the Early Signing period can only be described as massive for Clemson. The Tigers badly needed to sign some Offensive Lineman, and they not only tripled the number of OL committed, but they also added a top 100 prospect in Putnam while beating out division rival Florida State. Even with these additions, the Offensive Line class is incomplete and needs a true Tackle prospect before the staff can feel fully comfortable.
The most logical option at this point is Darius Washington from Pensacola, Florida. Washington moves well and projects best on the outside, however, the 3-star Tackle has just 1 Official visit remaining. Florida State will likely pursue Washington harder now, and Washington may not leave Florida.
Doug Nester the 4-star Ohio State commit is another name to know at the position. While he projects best as a mauler RG, Nester also possesses the length to play on the outside if necessary. Distance from home is likely a factor here, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for Clemson not to swing unless they don’t view him as a Tackle in any circumstance. Outside of those 2 targets it’s tough to pin down who else Clemson will target going forward, but I would imagine the staff is evaluating plenty of film to find the best possible fit.
Who will be the 2nd RB take?
Jerrion Ealy is the primary focus at the position, and he should be. Ealy is an elite RB talent that Clemson should be fighting tooth and nail to land. While he’s currently committed to Ole Miss, the Tigers’ biggest threat to land his services has not nothing to do with Football. Will Ealy go pro in Baseball? Most likely, but Clemson is healthy at the position and should pursue Ealy until the end. The MS prospect will take an Official visit in mid-January and the coaching staff will likely throw the kitchen sink at the star athlete to convince him otherwise.
If Clemson finds it necessary to add a second RB to the class and does not think Ealy will spurn professional baseball, there are at least 2 potential targets they could move on. Jamious Griffin, a 4-star from GA, or Michel Dukes, an in-state 3-star. Neither prospect currently holds an offer.
Will Clemson pursue Akeem Dent (DB)?
This is going to be a hot take, but I think the better question is: Should Clemson pursue Dent? I don’t think that they should. Why wouldn’t I want Clemson to pursue a prospect rated by multiple recruiting services as a 5-star? Dent has not had a strong Senior season and was extremely disappointing during Alabama’s camp this Summer. He is undersized, not very long, has questionable ball skills, and not only does not often play man-to-man, but also lacks technique while being too handsy when he does. Dent projects best at Safety or Nickel. The majority of Dent’s film is at Safety, however, is frame is slight and he does not hit as hard as you’d like to see from someone at the position. Whether this is because of his frame, or a lack of toughness, it is still an issue.
That’s not to say Dent does not have qualities Clemson can utilize, but when you take Clemson’s 2020 DB recruiting into account it becomes harder to justify taking the South Florida DB. The Tigers arguably lead for 3 of the current top 10 corners in the country, and that’s not even counting the multitude of other prospects that have either visited or that Clemson is in good position to pursue in the future. It’s not just about a numbers game; optics matter to recruits too. It is much easier to sell playing time to prospects in the next class when you didn’t sign “two 5-star prospects” (Booth being the other) in the previous class rather than just one. It is because of these reasons that I don’t think Clemson should pursue Dent over the next few weeks. A third corner take is not completely necessary, and Dent’s talent alone does not justify a spot in the class. He is most likely strictly a player Clemson could put in a Nickel role, and it really depends on how much value the Tigers put in that.
Will Clemson take a true Defensive End in the 2019 class?
Since all of Clemson’s take along the Defensive Line appear to project inside, and because Greg Williams may or may not grow out of his current LB role, Dabo Swinney might be looking for a prospect that will undoubtedly end up at DE. Smith Vilbert, a 3-star DE prospect out of NJ is the only name I have heard linked to Clemson. Clemson has not offered Vilbert, but Florida, Penn State, and Oregon all have. The NJ product would be a good developmental take, and flashes effective initial quickness despite his larger frame. The biggest question at this point in regards to this position is whether or not the staff views taking a true End as a luxury or a necessity.