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Recruiting Update: Clemson looks to close historic 2020 class

The Tigers are staring down potentially the highest-rated recruiting class of all time

Boston College v Clemson Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

With the Early Signing Period now less than 50 days away, the 2020 recruiting cycle is about to hit the beginning of a thrilling home stretch. Perhaps no team is better positioned for a huge finish than Clemson, who despite already holding the #1 class in America, is still looking to add multiple elite level prospects to their class.

Additions and Subtractions from the Board

Because of Senior film and developments throughout the last few months, the overview of the remaining players left on the board has changed. Earlier this season, speedster Arian Smith added a Clemson offer and as a result appears to be the preferred 3rd Wide Receiver in this class. For the longest time, Xzavier Henderson appeared to fit that bill, however, it appears that not only do the Tigers value Arian Smith’s skillset more, but also that they have lost ground with Henderson. Those 2 factors could very well be directly linked, but what we can say for sure is that Smith is the new top priority at WR. Henderson is trending towards being a UGA-Florida battle, while Smith might be Clemson’s to lose so long as he gets on campus. Look for that official visit to occur in the coming weeks.

Arik Gilbert is now off the board after a shocking commitment to LSU last week. It’s been said for a long time that this recruitment isn’t usually the type that Clemson wins, but at least they were able to get a hat on the table for the best TE prospect out of high school in a very long time. These days, however, when one 5-star comes off the board, another is added. Linebacker Trent Simpson out of Charlotte, NC is someone Clemson recruited in the Spring, but was unable to make the numbers work. Without adding that offer, Simpson committed to Auburn in June, but has since decommitted. The insanely talented prospect happened to pop up on campus over the weekend, and signaled a potentially very interesting development for the conclusion of the 2020 class.

While Mack Brown’s Tar Heels are the perceived favorite, Clemson made a big move with both Simpson and his family on that visit. QT referenced this recruitment earlier in the week:

By now you all know that Brent Venables is one of our more aggressive recruiters with regards to wanting more offers and takes. He helps keep more irons in the recruiting fire burning. Venables helped Clemson stay on Justin Flowe early and kept an iron in the fire with Phillip Webb, for example (Clemson ultimately decided to move on from Webb). Trenton Simpson visited over the weekend after decommitting from Auburn the previous week. Simpson should be a composite 5* player—he is 13th overall on 247, 34th overall on Rivals, and 107th?? on ESPN (yep...). Right now he is 33rd overall. He is 6’2.5 and 220 pounds from Mallard Creek, NC. Scheme versatility with the ability to rush the passer or play some in coverage. Long arms but a fluid athlete. So much to like about Simpson. His recruitment shouldn’t impact Justin Flowe. Simpson could play a Nickel/SAM role or play the WILL and fill out to be an edge rusher. UNC is lurking in the background, but Clemson is in a very good position.

Sounds great, right? Well, Simpson is yet to add an offer as numbers are once again going to make life difficult for Dabo Swinney and his staff. This has nothing to do with Simpson’s overall ability, or Clemson’s standing with Justin Flowe. Simpson is a phenomenal player with massive potential, and Clemson still owns the momentum for Flowe.

Simpson has the type of talent that you take regardless of how full you are at a position, but with presumably just 3 spots left in the class and 4 elite targets still in play, where Simpson fits into the class is difficult to predict. Clemson will not offer unless it knows it has room, but make no mistake, Simpson badly wants that offer, and Brent Venables badly wants Simpson. The 5-star talent visits Chapel Hill this weekend in what could be a pivotal visit in his recruitment.

What to make of Jordan Burch visiting LSU

The most difficult recruitment to read in the 2020 class remains Jordan Burch’s. The #2 rated player overall on 24/7 Sports’ rankings is being pursued by both in-state schools as well as just about every major SEC power. Surprisingly, Burch’s first official visit went to the LSU Tigers this past weekend. That visit went well, however, LSU is still viewed as a dark horse at this point. Burch followed up this visit by releasing a top 5 (in no specific order) of LSU, Alabama, UGA, Clemson, and South Carolina.

It will be interesting to see what Burch’s visit schedule ends up being in the coming weeks. Clemson will already be hosting 5-star Justin Flowe for the Wake Forest game, so trying to get Burch on campus that same weekend could potentially be the plan. Because Burch and his family keep things so tight-lipped it is difficult to know for sure what school he prefers. Tracking his next few visits and moves could be telling in which way he is leaning.

How will the class finish?

Clemson is in an envious position regarding its numbers in the 2020 class. As previously mentioned, there only appears to be 3 spots remaining for 4 elite prospects. The most likely odd man out could unfortunately be 5-star Trent Simpson unless the Tigers are able to find room for 24 players. The staff is pursuing Jordan Burch all the way until the end, and that has both good and bad implications. Burch is a 5-star talent who you have no choice to pursue for numerous reasons, however, nobody knows what he is going to do and he could very well not end up at Clemson. This makes the Simpson all the more interesting to follow going forward, and if he receives an offer soon things would look very good for the Tigers.

If I were placing bets today I’d say Arian Smith and Justin Flowe are both going to be in the class barring something extreme. The last spot could go to either Simpson or Burch, though it’s more likely to be the latter. Decisions are approaching quickly and Clemson’s 2020 recruiting class is about to make its final push. It is still possible for the Tigers to land the highest-rated class of all time, and it’s also possible for them to have the highest ever average rating per recruit as well. Few have closed better over the past few cycles than Clemson, and Dabo Swinney and staff would be thrilled to end the class with a few more elite prospects.