The Spring Game turned into a recruiting bonanza and flipped the script on Clemson’s desire to be patient despite the ability to take an expanded class. This recruiting class should jump over 25 recruits and could be as high as 29 if the team desired (I think 26-28 is probably right).
Clemson added some very nice pieces to the recruiting class and solidified their position with a couple more extremely valuable recruits. Clemson now has a total of nine commitments in the class of 2019. Let us dive into who Clemson landed.
The first of several linebacker takes in this class is Bryton Constantin (6’2, 220) from Baton Rouge, LA. He is rated as a 3 star prospect right now in recruiting rankings and the 247 composite has him listed as 637 overall, but that is going to change in short order. I see him as a low to mid four star player right now, but a player who possesses more upside than other similarly ranked players. He was the LB MVP at a recent Rivals camp in Alabama so he could get ranked even higher.
He had offers from Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and was getting looks from the top programs in the country when his recruiting took off the past couple of months. Brent Venables was the lead recruiter here.
He is listed between 215 and 220, but he has the frame to get to 225-230 without much trouble. Right now his key strength is his ability to move and drop back into coverage. He could stay at the same weight and be an outside LB or he could fill out with his frame and play inside. Bryton is so good in coverage at his size that he could also start his career at Clemson playing the SAM position. Long arms and plus quickness at the LB position.
The one area he could improve as a LB is his tackling and striking. He isn’t the most violent, high impact LB right now, but that can be developed. Coverage skills, great hands/catching ability, and short space quickness are his strengths right now. He has great coaching at University Lab (the same school produced Dylan Moses) and will be prepared for football at Clemson. Solid character who won’t likely waiver on his commitment.
Next we have the QB take for this class Taisun Phommachanh (6’3 195). Phommachanh (pronounced Puma-chawn) hails from Avon Old Farms in Bridgeport, CT. The last time Clemson went this far North they landed one Christian Wilkins and that didn’t turn out so bad. Taisun is a true dual threat QB and a developmental prospect. It is definitely a down year for QB talent in the 2019 class, especially after the top prospect JT Daniels reclassified to the 2018 class and committed to USCsr. Bud Elliott reviews the QB dominoes in his yearly piece I recommend reading.
Taisun is an excellent pick-up because the QB crop is so weak. Clemson had Sam Howell as their other major QB target in the class, but he committed to FSU. FSU also wanted to add Taisun to their class before he committed to Clemson. Bo Nix is the other QB Clemson pursued early in the process, but he committed to Auburn. There aren’t any QB’s in the composite top 50 overall. Phommachanh comes in at number 114 overall. I think he could creep up into the top 100 when all is said and done. He had offers and interest in Florida State, Florida, Penn State, and Pitt among many others.
I like Taisun as a prospect because he has the height and frame to get to 215 and the athleticism to stay at QB or move to another position if needed down the road. It is hard to gauge just where Taison is as a prospect because he plays against weak competition in CT, but we can learn some things from his film and camp performances.
He is elusive. Although the competition isn’t elite, Taison can get out of the pocket and run. He looks like a first year Deshaun Watson in the open field, making quick cuts and displaying better top end speed (granted that is against that weak competition). Shifty athlete. Taisun struggles with accuracy at times, however, and will need to improve that part of his game. But he is a spread QB who runs a spread offense with his HS team. He throws well on the move and outside the pocket, but his ball placement will need to improve at the next level. He has a quick release and compact throwing motion. Lots to work with and an athletic upside in a weak class.
After taking Hunter Johnson and Trevor Lawrence in consecutive classes this is an amazing coup for the coaching staff.
The jewel of the weekend was 5 star wide receiver Frank Ladson (6’4, 175) from South Dade in Miami, FL. Once committed to the Florida Gators, Ladson decided to shut down his recruitment. Jeff Scott strikes again and Clemson is once again able to reach down into Florida and pluck out elite talent. Ladson is the composite number 14 player overall in the class of 2019. Ladson’s only real weakness right now is his weight. He will need to pack on additional weight if he wants to play the 9 position at Clemson.
Other than that he is an elite talent. He excels at high pointing the ball and making one handed acrobatic catches, winning one-on-one matchups. He has the hands and all the athletic prowess to be an elite athlete in CFB. Even in South Florida he is using his speed to beat opposing defenders. He isn’t much for YAC (yards after contact) yards at this point with his weight, but he could play the 5 position as well because he has good hands and generally catches the ball away from his body. With Ladson and Spector (who has performed well at recent camps, displaying his quickness) committed Clemson can be selective with their last WR take. Joseph Ngata and Lance Wilhoite are two possibilities.
Chez Mellusi (6’1, 190) surprised everyone and committed to Clemson on Monday, April 16th. Really just a week after Clemson had offered him a scholarship. Notre Dame was surprised by the commitment and Miami felt like they bide their time and hedge a bit with Mellusi. Mellusi is another Florida product from Naples, FL out of Naples HS. Some ding players who come out of Naples as being products of the system Naples runs, but flip on the tape and Chez shows his talent.
I’m bullish on Mellusi. I think Clemson got a steal here and Miami will regret letting him slip away. Other than Ole Miss commitment Ealy, who will most likely flip to Bama, there really wasn’t anyone higher on our RB board (I’m not counting Crouch who is a LB). You have Trey Sanders and Noah Cain at IMG and then Devyn Ford (who has shown way more interest in VT, Ohio State), Ealy and then Mellusi is right there in the mix. He is the composite 291 overall player, but I think he belongs inside the top 200, if not the top 150.
Some recruiting services have him listed at 175 pounds, but I know he has grown since those those measurements were taken. Adding weight and maintaining his burst will be important, but he should be able to get to the 205-210 range without too much trouble. One thing that stands out to me is his ability to run falling forward, showing 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 more and will need to develop his lower body further. But overall, I can see the potential for him to be either an Andre Ellington type of back or an all-purpose back depending on how he gains weight.
Lannden Zanders (6’1, 189) is a Safety from Shelby, NC. Zanders joins Joseph Charleston as the second Safety take in the class after two years of not taking a true Safety prospect. Zanders comes from NC HS powerhouse Crest HS, which produced Dane Rogers and Justin Foster for Clemson. Clemson beat out Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Tennessee as the other P5 schools who offered Zanders.
Here are all the positives I can find. He plays wide receiver and Safety for Crest. He blocked a punt, running right by KJ Henry, and plays hard on special teams. He is usually in pretty good defensive position and can high point the ball in the defensive backfield. Seems like a willing tackler, although he is the size of a corner. He is a smooth athlete with the ball in the air and doesn’t panic. Tennessee was the real competition for Zanders and they made a strong push to land him.
I’m trying to get behind Zanders because there is nothing wrong with the take at all. Right now from his tape and what others have said to me, he is an above average HS player, but others question his ability to transition to major college football. The major question seems to be whether he can physically transition to play Safety. He strikes hard, but isn’t consistently physical yet.
I’m wanting to see his senior film with another 5-10 pounds of weight and bulk added before making any kind of definitive statement. The coaches have seen him a lot being at Crest for Foster and the close proximity. Right now he is the composite number 742 player overall. I guess the frustration really stems from having mid to low four star players knocking down our door the past two years and then waiting for the caliber of prospect who isn’t garnering major P5 offers (other than Tennessee).
The future looks bright for the rest of this class. If you are Jonesing for more recruiting info, I’m writing up another article right now...