Clemson’s elite Junior day has borne fruit. It will bear more down the road, but for now we wait and evaluate who did drop.
Kevin Swint and Tre Williams have committed, bringing Clemson’s total for the 2020 class to 7. With only a stated 18-20 slots open for the 2020 class (it could/should get to 23-24), each take becomes really important for the overall talent level of the team. I will write more about this with my recruiting class reviews of 2019, but with so much talent departing with the recent senior class (and juniors departing early), there is a need to bring in an elite class.
Clemson’s 2019 class is good, but it isn’t exactly elite and one of the unfortunate reasons for this is that it was just a down year in overall talent level compared to 2018 and 2020 (beyond the control of Clemson coaches and staff). Clemson needed the numbers in 2019 to fill major roster holes and the fit with overall talent wasn’t ideal. For example, 2020 5* QB recruit DJ Uiagalelei is easily the best QB prospect in the classes of 2019 and 2020. Easily. Defensive tackle was also weak overall in 2019.
Clemson absolutely hit on LB/DE Kevin Swint (6’3, 235) from Carrollton, GA. In fact, he is probably my favorite current, publicly committed player in this 2020 class thus far. He is the composite number 194th overall player, but that number is dragged down by a ridiculous 247 rating of 412 overall, which would peg him as a 3* prospect. Nope. I would have him knocking on the top 100 door right now with the potential to go higher as he continues to fill his frame and find a home at a specific position.
My only real question about his as a prospect is where he ultimately will end up with his position. But this isn’t the normal worry about a player who would be considered a ‘tweener’ or some other label. He can legitimately, physically play multiple positions on defense. This past year he played more inside LB for his high school team and showed he is an absolute thumper, hammer.
I hate to use Vic Beasley comparison (and I am not saying Swint is going #8 overall in the draft eventually), but that is the kind of good problem Clemson has right now with Swint. He has a huge wingspan, but his arms aren’t skinny—they are grown man, DE arms (that is a horrible description, but they aren’t like weight room jacked—just natural big and strong). His legs are tree trunk certified. I think he could end up at defensive end, but I see him also sticking as a large MLB who easily gets up to 240 and can run sideline to sideline with that weight. He will need to work on agility and maintaining his short space quickness as he adds weight, along with improving his overall instincts, if he stays at LB and if he goes to DE then he will need to improve his bend and learn technique, but he is a mold of clay. I just can’t get over that 412 rating.
Swint has basically been looking to commit for a couple months now and this was not a surprise. He attended Clemson games last year and will be a solid commit who isn’t going to look around or take visits. Carrollton is a small town and he cited the small town atmosphere in Clemson as something appealing. Lots of schools will look at Clemson and scratch their heads when “exciting” universities in cities can’t land recruits, but lots of recruits come from small town, rural environments and they want to go to a place that feels like home. Clemson primarily beat Florida for Swint’s commitment, but Ohio State was also in the mix, with other schools watching his development.
DT Tre Williams (6’1.5-2, 295) is from St. John’s College HS in Washington, DC. St. John’s College HS is a private school with elite talent that plays a tough schedule. Williams transferred to St. John’s College in his junior year and burst onto the recruiting scene. There are some different recruiting industry opinions on Williams as a prospect. He is the composite number 96 overall player, but 247 has him ranked 57th overall while Rivals has him as number 162. His height is certainly one of those questions that evaluators value at DT. If he were 6’3 then he would likely be a consensus top 75 or top 50 pick, but if we are rounding up to 6’2 then there are questions. I’m not hung up on height (see Grady Jarrett), but it explain some of the variability in Williams current ranking.
Also at St. John’s College are Clemson targets are 4* CB Luke Hill and 5* WR Rakim Jarrett. 5* DE Mekhail Sherman is also at St. John’s, but has yet to visit. Williams will definitely help on the recruiting trail and Clemson would love to establish a pipeline with St. John’s College (they are an emergent, elite private HS that recruits a good bit of talent). Williams will help with that school, but also in the region (for example, Bryan Bresee plays at Damascus HS, which is less than an hour north in MD). Ohio State is the main competition for Clemson and will continue to loom large in this recruitment. Ohio State definitely has a presence in the region and the school. Sherman, for example, is thought to be a heavy Ohio State lean (as was Williams before his visit). Williams visited Clemson back in October, which got the ball rolling towards Clemson, but Ohio State felt like it was in the lead position.
Williams biggest asset right now is how he carries his 295 pounds. He has elite athleticism for his size. He needs to get stronger and reshape his body some, especially with more upper body power, but the quick feet and agility are there for a guy his size. Nice wingspan. He can shoot gaps and plays with some passion and fire. He profiles as a 3 tech right now, however, in a kind of Christian Wilkins mold and not as a nose tackle. I think right inside the top 100 is the correct rating for Williams at this point. The other committed player Demonte Capehart is 6’4, 270 pounds and is a jumbo athlete who is more of a 3 tech projection as well.
This is my main concern, not with Williams as a prospect, but with recruiting at defensive line in general. Obviously players like Wilkins don’t come along that often, but players like Dexter Lawrence come along even less often. We haven’t been able to find an elite nose tackle in recruiting since he has been on campus (I like Pinckney a lot, but he was a developmental prospect). There is a need for nose tackles on the roster and with Williams committing we are shutting it down. It makes the recruitment of Tyler Davis in the 2019 class all the more important.
All of that is to say that we selected Williams over a lot of other prospects such as Timothy Smith or Cole Brevard. I wasn’t as high on Smith as others, but he could fill the need at nose tackle and would have no problem adding another talented DT to the roster. Clemson should still work to land an oversign player at the position. That really just leaves DT McKinnley Jackson (#16 overall) and Bryan Bresee (#1 overall) as your main targets. Bresee is a strongside defensive end, however, and has stated that is where he wants to play (think JJ Watts). Jackson has yet to visit campus, but has almost gotten to campus a couple times and still has stated an intention to visit.
Bresee is the type of talent (similar to Wilkins or Lawrence or XT) where if you sign him then you don’t have to worry about needing a true nose tackle as much. He could be a versatile weapon who lines up at the 7, 5 or the 3 technique spot in certain packages, but wants to play SDE. I know I haven’t given many nuggets lately, but since Bresee visited back in November Clemson has been in the lead group for him. Rumblings were that Alabama and Clemson were at the top with Ohio State, UGA, and Penn State in that next group. Bama’s coaching changes haven’t helped their standing and Penn State has been rising. With the Junior Day visit, Clemson has staying power, if not a lead.