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An in-depth Look at Clemson’s 2020 Targets on Defense

Will the haul on Defense somehow surpass what Clemson is putting together on Offense?

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

Last week, I covered Clemson’s loaded recruiting board of 2020 targets at every Offensive position, however, the Defensive board might somehow be even more stacked! Brent Venables ought to be salivating given the prospects on his side of the ball that the staff is recruiting. The potential for this Defensive class is enormous, and it would be a surprise if Clemson didn’t land 2 or possibly more 5-star prospects... and that’s just on the line.

Defensive Line

It would be difficult for Clemson to outdo what’s already committed in the class, however, it seems as though the 2 players currently committed along the Defensive line could end up being the lowest rated DL recruits in the class. To put that into perspective, 24/7 Sports recently rated DT commits Demonte Capehart and Tre Williams as 29th, and 45th nationally in their rankings. I am not exaggerating either, as Clemson is only going to fill it’s remaining spots with the very best players nationally (you’ll sense a theme here).

To fill the remaining 2-3 spots are strictly 5-star prospects. The 3 the staff seems to be recruiting the hardest right now are Bryan Bresee, in-state Jordan Burch, and Myles Murphy from Georgia. All 3 are physically, and athletically gifted and could make for the greatest DL recruiting class possibly ever. There is a heavy consensus nationally that Clemson leads for both Burch and Bresee. Meanwhile, Murphy will be a hotly contested recruitment for a prospect that the in-state Dawgs will do everything in their power to land. Both Murphy and Bresee likely project inside for the Tigers, however, they both own lots of upside in terms of positional versatility, and could end up at End too.

Other targets include 5-star LB/DE Sav’ell Smalls, 5-star LB/DE Chris Braswell, and 5-star DE Desmond Evans. Smalls is not really a scheme fit for Clemson due to size, but I’m sure he will be recruited hard until he tells the staff not to. Smalls visited Clemson last Summer and will return this Spring. Braswell is committed to Alabama, but if he visits Clemson (and he’s still visiting other schools), there’s no telling how solid that commitment would still be. Evans is likely staying in-state in North Carolina, and is someone I’m very high on even though it seems Clemson is pursuing the 3 mentioned in the paragraph above a little harder. Another indicator of how impressive this DL class will be? The #16 player per 24/7’s composite ranking (Evans) isn’t being recruited as the staff’s top priority at the position, and that’s not for a lack of talent.


With 2 commitments already in tow through 4-stars Sergio Allen and Kevin Swint, Clemson needs just 1 more backer to fill out what is already a strong LB class. Both Allen and Swint are great takes at the position and offer potential to both play significant roles in Brent Venables’ Defense over the next few seasons. I am a very big fan of Allen, and his athleticism in particularly.

The remaining targets to follow at this point are unsurprisingly among the top players at their position. The 4 names to know right now are 5-star Justin Flowe from California, 5-star Mekhail Sherman from DC, 4-star Antoine Sampah from Virginia, and 4-star Noah Sewell from Utah. Clemson is in the best shape with Sampah, however, since it has only 1 spot remaining for the position the staff will be selective. Sherman is a longshot, and while the other 2 are as well, both plan to visit Clemson at least once each before deciding. Flowe is the best LB prospect I have seen since Reuben Foster, and just might be the top overall prospect in America. He is a prospect that has scouts drooling.

Defensive Backs

Clemson is involved for a lot of high-profile Defensive backs, yet only has 3-4 spots to devote to the position. Because of this and the fact that Clemson took 4 safety-type players in 2019, Corner body-types will be prioritized. Fred Davis a 4-star from Florida is the top name to know at the moment, and after excelling at the Opening Regional in Orlando last weekend has established himself as one of the premier cover corners in this class.

Many of the players Clemson is recruiting can play both Corner and Safety due to the emphasis Clemson places on versatility. These players include 4-star Texas DB RJ Mickens, 4-star Miami DB Henry Gray, and 4-star Tennessee DB Keshawn Lawrence. The Tigers are also after 4-star Safety Chris Thompson out of Texas. Clemson is in his top 3 and he will return again later this year.

It will be interesting to see if Clemson chooses to pursue the premier corners in the class, 5-star Elias Ricks, and 5-star Kelee Ringo. Malcolm Greene, a 4-star sleeper from Virginia that Clemson seems quite high on could find his way into the class too. Finally, does Clemson decide to look for a SAM/nickel hybrid? Kourt Williams out of St. John Bosco HS appears to be a perfect fit for the role if Clemson decides to get involved. Despite measuring in at 6’1, 215 pounds, Williams ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, a 4.09 shuttle (that’s an elite shuttle time for someone that size), a 39’ vertical leap, and a SPARQ score of nearly 138 which is absurdly high. Hard to find a guy that fits the profile of what Clemson has looked for at that position better than that. It will be interesting to see how the staff decides to manage these spots, and who they decide to take.

The scary thing about this star-studded Defensive board is that it not only has many who are planning on taking their first visit soon, but the prospect board as a whole isn’t even done growing. Think about all the prospects you just read about being connected to Clemson, and then consider that it’s not even March yet. Based on how Clemson is already so spoiled for choice at certain positions, it will be interesting to see who they give spots to in the near future, who they get involved with down the road, as well as who they choose to prioritize down the stretch of the cycle. Clemson is still involved somewhat involved with all 13 of the 5-star Defensive prospects per 24/7’s Composite rankings (that’s not a typo). By this December, there’s a very strong chance Clemson will have stocked it’s cupboard full of elite-level Defensive prospects.