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Looking at Clemson’s Needs for the Class of 2019

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson Practice Bart Boatwright-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year we tried to map out what Clemson’s needs were going to be in the class of 2019. That has changed a bit since then because of the high number of transfers and the final numbers in the class of 2018. As always a reminder, a recruiting class isn’t just about star power, it is also about filling needs not just for the upcoming season, but 2-3 seasons down the line. Taking 2 OL or 2 DBs may not hurt Clemson in 2018, but it will hurt in 2020 and 2021. That’s why we like to look at what the needs for the team are.

The chart below shows every player who will exhaust their eligibility after the 2018 season in the left hand column, The center column is a list of potential NFL departures, and the numbers on the right represent the total numbers at that position after the 2018 season ends. That number does not account for potential transfers, NFL departures, etc.

Class of 2019 Roster Breakdown

Position Exhausting Eligibility Potential Early Departure Roster Number after 2018
Position Exhausting Eligibility Potential Early Departure Roster Number after 2018
QB 3
Kelly Bryant
RB 4
Adam Choice Tavien Feaster
WR 7
Hunter Renfrow Diondre Overton
Trevion Thompson Cornell Powell
TE 3
Milan Richard
Cannon Smith
OL 12
Justin Falcinelli
Mitch Hyatt
DT 5
Albert Huggins Dexter Lawrence
Christian Wilkins
DE 7
Austin Bryant Clelin Ferrell
Chris Register
Richard Yeargin
LB 7
J.D. Davis
Judah Davis
Kendall Joseph
Jalen Williams
CB 6
Mark Fields Trayvon Mullen
S N/A 6
K'Von Wallace
ST 2
Alex Spence
Greg Huegel
Totals 20 4 62

So looking at the chart the obvious takeaway is how big this class is going to be. We’ve highlighted that fact before. And that gives the coaching staff a lot of flexibility as well as an opportunity to fill holes in depth across the board.

Starting with QB, Clemson has to take at least 1, possibly even 2 for depth purposes this year. Even if the second QB is a 3 star guy there needs to be some depth, especially if we see another QB transfer after the 2018 season.

At RB Clemson needs 2 guys. I waffled on needing 1 or 2 before, but with how things are playing out there really isn’t a good reason to take fewer than 2. Same at WR where 2-3 is the answer, but the important thing here is for Clemson to find the right receivers. It doesn’t help if we recruit 3 5 star receivers if they all play the same position at receiver. We need to be smart here to account for losses at the different spots.

For TE Clemson should go for two guys and one has to be a blue chip TE prospect. There is just too much developmental talent on the roster here and Clemson needs to find more of a “sure thing” With how important the position is for our offense we can’t afford to be sputtering around here because guys aren’t panning out.

Now we get to the OL. I’ve harped a lot about how Clemson didn’t meet its OL needs in the class of 2018. To me 2 OL just doesn’t cut it, even with the low numbers. That should change this year and frankly there is no excuse to have fewer than 5 OL in this class. We will have 12 on scholarship after this year and another 5 gets us to 17. I’d prefer to get 6, especially if we have 2-3 development type guys. But even if Clemson has 6 guys we need some blue chip guys who can contribute immediately. We need not just 1 Mitch Hyatt, but likely a second. And that’s because if we don’t find guys who can contribute immediately then there will be problems with our OL in 2020, maybe even 2019. This is why meeting needs each year is important, it isn’t about the next season, it is about the seasons 2-3 years down the line when most of the talent you recruit should be playing and performing.

Ok, now that I’m off my soapbox let’s move on to DT. We need to take a few guys at DT in 2019, we’ll only have 5 on the roster and we are losing some pretty big names. Ideally Clemson grabs 3 here, 4 if possible to account for attrition. At DE things are better and we can afford to recruit 2-3, but because of NFL departures I’d hope the staff goes for 4 DEs. Is it wrong if I say every guy on the DL should be a blue chip prospect? That’s not snobbish or anything right?

Moving to LB, once again we’ll need to take a few. The good news is we see a lot of non contributors come off the roster this year, the bad news is the remaining group is young and inexperienced. Ideally Clemson grabs 3 LBs here depending on who the staff recruits to fill the role of nickel/SAM. Maybe a 4th if transfers are a concern.

Both safety and CB have 6 players apiece on the roster and I’d suggest recruiting at least 2 players at each position. With special teams we will only have 2 players on the roster and it would be nice to bring someone in, either a future punter or kicker depending on how things look during spring and fall camps.

So adding all this up gets us to 31 players, assuming we go with my higher ranges on each position. That lines up pretty nicely with the expected class size of 31-33. And it also gives the staff flexibility to add numbers at specific positions if we can recruit oversign worthy guys. And more importantly it allows us to meet the roster needs while still planning for potential attrition at any position.