Last summer I made the bold claim that 2020 could possibly be the best class of the Dabo Era at Clemson. Fast forward about 8 months and the term “possibly” might not even do this class justice. Clemson is rolling on the trail right now and knocking pretty much every visit out of the park. This should not come as much of a surprise. Clemson has more ammunition on the trail than ever, and the increased brand has attracted prospects from all over the country. April is looking like it could be a huge month in recruiting, and there are certain dominoes that could fall which would blow the top off this class.
The Opening Regional: Atlanta
This past weekend, the Opening Regional located in Atlanta featured countless high level prospects spanning multiple graduating classes. Among the prospect concerning Clemson, Myles Murphy, Paul Tchio, an E.J Williams are 3 biggest names to know. Murphy, a 5-star from Atlanta, GA is currently the 11th rated prospect nationally per 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings. Murphy possesses an extremely rare blend of size and speed, posting freakish testing numbers for a player his size (6’5 260).
Great day overall from DE Myles Murphy, both on field and in testing pic.twitter.com/TOTTs08Jx7— Charles Power (@CharlesPower) March 24, 2019
Those 40 and shuttle times are outstanding for a defensive end prospect, and they’re just some of the many reasons that Murphy is being pursued by all of college football’s elite. Leading into the event, public perception (especially by many close to the UGA program) had been that Murphy was going to end up at UGA. Clemson sources have been adamant since the fall that this was not the case, and they proved to be right. Bud Elliot of SB Nation was one of the many recruiting reporters at the event to think Murphy was favoring Clemson. You can see Bud’s interview with Murphy here. Some of the notable quotes are below:
He said if he had to name two hats today to be at his Signing Day hat ceremony today, Clemson and Auburn are two he knows he’d be picking from — not that others can’t get involved. His best relationship at Clemson is with defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall. “That would be my position coach when— if I go there,” Murphy said.
“I only have one class I am taking over the summer, so I’ll have free range over where I want to go, he said. “I want to take my officials first, because I am not big on decommits. When you commit, it’s almost like a marriage, you don’t [look around.]”
And on why he switched his Crystal Ball pick from UGA to Clemson:
The academics are a fit, and he’s high on the culture. And importantly, knowing that Murphy has a strong preference for playing outside, from a projection standpoint, it is easier to see him playing defensive end than JACK linebacker if he continues to fill out with good weight. I suspect he will.
The tweet below is just one example of Murphy’s freakish speed despite his size. Murphy would have been labeled the “alpha dog” of the event had it not been for Tate Rateledge’s performance at Offensive Line. A decision is expected before the season.
Five-star DE Myles Murphy playing at a different speed at @TheOpening Atlanta: https://t.co/QJ1IqI7cT0 #Georgia #Clemson pic.twitter.com/FyTrPuvGtq— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) March 24, 2019
Offensive line commit Paul Tchio also showed out, and looked like the 2nd best OL at the entire event. Down 30 pounds from this time last year, Tchio showed great feet and agility against some of the best DL in the area. For his efforts, Paul earned an invite to the Opening (as did Murphy).
#Clemson commit Paul Tchio controlling the line of scrimmage at @TheOpening Atlanta: https://t.co/sXb1Wvg8lm pic.twitter.com/vc8mBAvHN3— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) March 24, 2019
Clemson knocking 5-star visits out of the Park
Over the last month Clemson has hosted 3 prospects rated by 24/7 Sports as 5-star talents, and each visit has sprung the Tigers directly to the top of each player’s leaderboard. A little over 2 weeks ago, Julian Fleming visited Tigertown for the first time in a much anticipated visit. The visit resulted in a Crystal Ball prediction from national insider Steve Wiltfong, who even felt confident enough to place a day ahead of Fleming’s visit to Ohio State. The Buckeyes may end up being tougher competition than nearby Penn State for the #1 WR in America’s services, and it will be a battle until the end. The fact that Clemson was able to take the lead after just one visit, along with the fact that Jeff Scott is on the case, should give Tiger fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
The next 5-star to visit was Braiden McGregor out of Michigan. The jumbo athlete can play both DE and TE at the next level, but would likely play the latter for Clemson. Dabo Swinney made a huge impression on McGregor, and the prospect loves the culture, coaches, and ability to play early here. Like Fleming, McGregor added a Clemson Crystal Ball from Wiltfong following his visit.
Finally, this past Monday, 5-star RB out of Florida Demarkcus Bowman visited Clemson for the first time since the elite Junior day in January. This will be a battle, as Bowman attends Lakeland HS, a notorious UF pipeline. The #2 RB in the country got a better feel for what it is to be a student on campus, and spent considerable time with players like Travis Etienne. Despite the Florida ties, Steve Wiltfong changed his Crystal ball from the Gators to the Tigers the morning after Bowman declared Clemson as his outright leader. Following the visit, Bowman plans to return for the Spring Game in 2 weeks.
The Spring Game is coming
Yes, the Spring game is approaching quickly, and yes, there is plenty of reason to be excited. For starters, arguably the top 2 targets for Clemson at any position will be in town in 5-stars DJ Uiagalelei, and Bryan Bresee.
Will be in attendance for the Clemson spring game on April 6#ALLIN— DJ Uiagalelei (@DJUiagalelei) March 25, 2019
See you there #ALLIN https://t.co/rXgDlkvWEv— Bryan Bresee (@bryan_bresee) March 25, 2019
This will be the first visit for DJ’s Mom, and that is very notable. There is a large school of thought that this could be the last visit for DJ while uncommitted. Bryan Bresee has been trending heavily towards the Tigers, and Clemson has been given more reason to feel confident in recent weeks. As recently as this week, Bresee picked up 4 more crystal ball predictions for Clemson in the span of just 1 hour. If you’re picking up what I’m putting down then you understand just how special this Spring game could be. Obviously I can’t guarantee anything, but the lid could be about to blow off this class (even if that lid is blown halfway) and catapult it into the stratosphere.
In addition to the 2 big headliners, as I mentioned earlier DeMarkcus Bowman is also slated to return. This would mark his 3rd visit in as many months. The top rated Safety per 24/7’s composite rankings is also trending towards Clemson, and it’s likely a matter of when, not if for Mickens to join the class.
E.J. Williams, the 4-star WR out of AL from the same HS as Justyn Ross will be returning yet again to Clemson (can’t even count how many visits it’s been). Henry Gray will be returning after a big visit to Ohio State, and it’s likely that the Buckeyes pulled rank with the Tigers for the lead. Gray does not have the best testing numbers, and he may project better at safety. Due to Clemson’s need for corners this cycle, that could end up being important. Joseph Ngata’s younger brother Daniyel will also be making his 3rd visit to Clemson. The talented, top-100 All-Purpose back could be the 2nd RB take in this class, however, he will not decide until after his Senior season.
Brace yourselves, because April is a big month for recruiting and it is coming up fast.