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Previewing Clemson’s loaded Junior Day

Clemson’s 2020 class looks to reach the next level this upcoming weekend

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson Celebration Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I discussed how and why Clemson’s 2020 class has potential to be the best in program history. This upcoming weekend, you’re going to see the first instance of this in full effect. As of now, anywhere from 6 to 8 5-star prospects are expected to be in attendance, including multiple 5-star Defensive Lineman, the #1 player in the country, and an additional 7 top 100 prospects. Again, this weekend is absolutely loaded with both talent and opportunities. Clemson has a chance to make a huge impression on these young prospects in a weekend that could set the tone for the 2020 class. The value of getting off to a hot start can not be overstated.

Commit Watch?

With so many prospects interested in Clemson, the Tigers can afford to be picky with whom they take. Since there are 5 prospects already committed, and anywhere from 17-20 more spots remaining, don’t expect there to be a huge string of commitments right away. It is because of this reason that I would put only one prospect on commit watch for this weekend. That prospect is 4-star LB Kevin Swint. Swint projects best as a MIKE in Clemson’s Defense, and is a solid blue-chip prospect despite putting on some bad weight since his Sophomore season. Swint’s highlight film is still impressive, however, and the weight gain will not be a concern once he reaches a college strength and conditioning staff.

Guys like Luke Hill and Eddie Williams could realistically pop, but both have stated they will take more visits this Spring (I expect them to follow through with those visits) before ultimately deciding. Assuming both are takes at the end of Spring (this is a question for Williams rather than Hill), I have a hard time seeing either not choosing Clemson if given the opportunity.

Who can Clemson make a big move with this weekend?

For the sake of this article, this section will be referring to prospects who have not been to Clemson, have only visited once, or someone who likes Clemson and its brand but has not yet had the opportunity to learn more about the program. There are many of these highly-interested prospects who are eager to learn more about Clemson this weekend.

Since Dabo Swinney took over as Head Coach, recruiting elite players out of the Sunshine state has always been a high priority. This class is no different, and Clemson has a huge opportunity to make big first impressions on not 1, not 2, but 3 top 50 prospects from Florida. Demarkcus Bowman, a 5-star Running Back from Lakeland, FL will be making his initial visit, and by all accounts Clemson is the out of state school he is currently the most interested in. Bowman might be the best RB in a class full of good ones, but if the Tigers want to land a commitment down the road they will have to beat out Florida, a university that has owned the Lakeland pipeline for close to a decade. Two Defensive Backs, 5-star Fred Davis, and 4-star Henry Gray will also be making their inaugural visits to the national champions. For Gray, it will be his first recruiting visit outside his home state. Ohio State will be fierce competition for Gray, as well as a multitude of national powers for Davis, but Clemson can put itself in a position to land both going forward. The interest of all 3 Floridian prospects is very high.

In addition to those 3, Clemson has 2 other prospects on the Offensive side of the ball it could potentially make a big move on. The WRU brand has never been stronger, and that has already resonated with 5-star Rakim Jarrett of Washington DC. It goes without saying that if a Wide Receiver gets on campus, Clemson has a great shot. But the most prolific Offensive target in attendance will actually be a 5-star TE by the name of Arik Gilbert. Gilbert has All-Pro NFL potential, that is not something you say about many prospects, Gilbert is just that good. Look for Clemson to swing for the fences on the Georgia product’s second visit to campus. UGA must be considered the heavy favorite, but the potential QB play Gilbert would have as a Tiger is something that will resonate strongly given his supposed concerns with the Georgia Offense moving forward.

Most Important Prospects

Some of these prospects could just as easily have fallen in the previous section, however, these prospects have a much more “established” interest in Clemson. Of the confirmed prospects (there could be another highly-rated prospect of equal importance to show up this weekend), 3 in particular stand out. Bryan Bresee, the #1 player in the country out of Maryland is the headliner and the most important prospect that will be on campus. Clemson has managed to firmly entrench itself in Bresee’s top 5, and another visit (especially after coming off the national championship victory) could be what it takes to really throw Clemson into the higher tier of competitors for his signature. Clemson doesn’t have to lead now or even this Spring, but this is a recruitment the Tigers are geared to win, especially if/when a certain 5-star QB who bonded with Bresee opts for the Tigers. I believe UGA and Penn State will end up being Clemson’s stiffest competition here.

But Bresee isn’t the only 5-star DL making his way to Tigertown as he’ll be joined by Georgia DL Myles Murphy. Murphy is another freakish 5-star Clemson will fight UGA tooth and nail to land. Landing a prospect UGA wants this bad out of Georgia is always going to be incredibly difficult. Clemson had taken the lead in the early Fall, and now there’s a good chance UGA claims the same. This recruitment won’t be decided until next Fall, but every visit until then will be hugely important.

Finally, Clemson will host 4-star Texas Safety RJ Mickens. Mickens has long been a major target for the staff and seems to be the ideal take at Safety for the class. Pulling prospects out of Texas has always been difficult for Clemson, but the Tigers biggest competitor will actually be Ohio State. Clemson is likely running either 1st or 2nd in this recruitment right now, but these are the types of recruitments Clemson can now win coming off of a national championship.