With the class of 2018 officially complete, it’s time to turn our attention to the class of 2019. Before we get to individual players, we need to get an idea of how big this class will be. And good news: unlike the previous two years, the class of 2019 will be huge... possibly the biggest to ever come into Clemson.
Clemson currently has 20 players classified as a senior or graduate student for 2018, which means we will be starting with 20 scholarships.
From what we’ve seen over the past 6 years or so, Clemson can plan on (roughly) 4 players transferring elsewhere. Even with the large number of transfers after the 2017 season, the average is only 4 players or so a year. That gets Clemson to 24 scholarships. Clemson also has 2 walk ons with scholarships; Ty Thomason and Kyle Cote are walk-ons who were given a scholarship in 2017 and seem likely to keep said scholarship in 2018. That gives the coaching staff some wiggle room to oversign this year.
But you’ll also notice that right now Clemson only has 82 players on scholarship. That means another 3 walk-ons will have scholarships in 2018 to save them for the 2019 class. This gives Clemson 27-29 scholarships for the class of 2019. And we haven’t even talked about the NFL.
A rough guess this year is that we are going to see some decent attrition to the NFL from the junior class. It’s probably fair to assume Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell will be leaving after 2018. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see 1 DB leave, in particular Mullen or Wallace if they had a great season. On offense we could see Diondre Overton or Cornell Powell leave if they step up with an excellent season, and Tavien Feaster could be a candidate to leave as well. Even if none of these guys leave it seems certain Clemson will see more than 2 players leave early. Let’s be conservative and say Clemson will lose 4 guys, which means the class of 2019 is going to be between 31-33 players.
This doesn’t even account for surprise transfers this summer, dismissals, or surprise NFL departures. All of these things could push the class even higher. But that brings in another problem, which is the mandated limit of 25 players per class. Obviously, if we are recruiting 31-33 players then Clemson is in violation of that rule. The key will be early enrollment. Any member of the class of 2019 that enrolls in January 2019 can be counted as part of the class of 2018 or the class of 2019. Given the numbers, at least 6-8 players will have to be early enrollees, but luckily early enrollment is somewhat common for top prospects. This means that the coaching staff will not need to limit their recruitment to satisfy this rule.
The bottom line here is that this class is going to be huge, and that means there is no need to narrow the board quickly, recruit too few players at OL, DL, and DB, or any of the other decisions we saw with the last two classes. It should be full speed ahead for Clemson recruiting this year.
The real concern is what the staff is going to plan for. I’m going to be honest, I’m very concerned when the coaching staff is saying they are looking at giving out around 25 scholarships. That tells me they aren’t planning for attrition. That’s a problem. We’ve demonstrated with hard data that Clemson will lose players to transfers and the NFL. The staff has to plan for it and that’s why this class should be around 30 players, not 25. If we sign 25 in the class of 2019, we will be managing a roster as if we are on probation.