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Clemson Spring Game Recruiting Preview

There’s a strong chance Clemson’s 2020 class grows in size this weekend

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

It’s finally arrived. Fans, players, and recruits alike have all been anxiously anticipating the arrival of Clemson’s 2019 Spring game for more than just on-field purposes. This weekend has long been seen as a potentially huge recruiting event for more reasons than just possible commitments. Multiple 5-stars, as well as other highly-rated prospects will be on campus, and the opportunity to further those relationships will help Clemson create an even more massive wave of recruiting momentum than they already have heading into this Summer.

DJ Uiagalelei’s 5-day Visit

One of the prospects who has long been ear-marked to commit this weekend is the nation’s #1 QB, DJ Uiagalelei. The long-time Tiger lean has brought his Mom to campus, and needs to get her approval before making a decision. Clemson has the family on campus for 5 whole days, so there’s more than enough opportunity to show both DJ and his family anything else they need to see. Whether or not a decision occurs, however, is still up in the air, as Uiagalelei has stated he will visit Eugene for the Oregon Spring game in 2 weeks.

There are 2 schools of thought here. The first is that DJ will make a commitment this weekend and be the headline of a huge recruiting weekend. The second, and at this point more likely option, is that DJ will visit Oregon one last time before deciding in May or June before the Summer. For the first option to occur, Clemson will have to blow the visit out of the water, so that there’s no doubt in DJ’s mind that Clemson is the place for him. This is entirely possible, but I think you see DJ make one more visit to Oregon before going public with a decision. Regardless, it will be immensely difficult to envision the talented signal caller ending up anywhere else.

Other Important Visitors

DJ Uiagalelei is not the only important visitor this weekend, not by a long shot. The #1 player in the entire country, Bryan Bresee will be returning to Clemson with the Tigers riding a huge wave of momentum in his recruitment. There are many factors working in favor of Clemson here, but don’t expect a commitment this weekend. He has recently scheduled visits to multiple different schools, and if you’re a believer in Dabo’s “no-visit” policy after committing, there’s a really good chance he takes those visits. I can’t completely rule a commitment out, but it is highly likely Bresee takes one more swing of visits before ending the process.

DeMarkcus Bowman is also expected in for his 2nd visit in just 3 weeks. The 5-star from Florida is trending heavily to Clemson and will bring his parents to campus with him. Despite the Lakeland connection to UF, if you are the Gators, now is probably the time to start worrying if you weren’t already.

An interesting factor that could speed up Bowman’s timeline is the potential for the top RB prospect in the nation, Zach Evans to visit from Texas. I have not been this bullish on a RB prospect since Zamir White, and Evans has a strong chance to be a top 3 player in the nation when all is said and done. If Clemson makes a move for Evans, does it speed up Bowman’s decision process? On the flip side, it is highly unlikely Evans leaves the state of Texas to play college ball.

Antoine Sampah, the 4-star, top-100 LB from VA also returns. This one will be interesting to follow because Bama is pushing for Sampah much harder than Clemson at the moment. It’s not out of the question for Sampah to commit to Alabama as soon as this Spring, but will this visit cause Sampah to hold off? Spots in this LB class are tight.

There are a ton of DBs visiting this weekend, and as a result the position could fill up quickly. Top targets Fred Davis, and RJ Mickens return for yet another visit. Two 4-stars in Henry Gray, and Malcom Greene return for the first time since the first Junior Day. An intriguing DB prospect and current Miami commit, Ladarius Tennison will also be making his maiden trip to Clemson. The Tigers want a true nickel Corner in this class, and Tennison fits that bill despite being a little undersized. I have heard through the grapevine from someone who has seen Tennison play in-person multiple times that he believes Tennison to be a “Sunday player” despite his 3-star ranking on nearly every recruiting site.

Commit watch?

Will anyone commit this weekend? That’s the million dollar question that every Tiger fan is wondering. While this weekend may prove to be more important from a relationship-building standpoint, there are a few prospects who could “pop” this weekend as well. Right now, the most likely candidates to drop both play at the DB position. One of the top corners in the class, Fred Davis seems like a likely candidate given the recent flurry of Crystal Ball predictions from 24/7 Sports. Clemson has done an exceptional job of recruiting Davis, and those fruits could be seen this weekend.

The other prospect to watch is RJ Mickens out of Texas. There is not a team that has done a better job recruiting Mickens, and not another team recruiting him as hard. He is rated as the #1 Safety in America according to 24/7’s composite rankings, however, I think that rating is a bit inflated. In a down year for Safeties, Mickens is probably the 4th or 5th best nationally, but is someone Clemson has been recruiting hard for a very long time.

Of course there’s always the possibility that DJ Uiagalelei does what many have long expected him to do and commit, but as I said earlier, this might not happen just yet. There are 1 or 2 others I will be watching who could potentially commit, though they might not be public by the end of the weekend. All in all, there’s a very good chance Clemson adds to its 2020 class this weekend. With so many highly-rated prospects on campus, even if a player is not committing, the progress that will be made in each of their respective recruitments is invaluable.

QT’s Take:

Just to add a quick note to the fine work above, Clemson is definitely taking two running backs in this class. If Clemson is going to have any chance with RB Zach Evans now is the time to make that move. He is that good of a prospect that he is definitely oversign worthy. Bowman is at the top of the board, but that is also because Evans hasn’t been seen as a realistic candidate. Elliott is extremely picky and Evans also needs to show his interest before he can grab a spot too. Evans travel arrangements are often last minute so this is one to watch all the way up until he sets foot in Tigertown. Bowman is making a return visit with family and will have a decision, but likely will continue to take visits. How the staff handles Daniyel Ngata will be something to watch and if he is a take just as an athlete who could be a RB or WR on offense.

Like I framed in my top ten and others have picked up on now, Clemson has been leading for Davis, keeping things on the down low. As Tommy said, Davis is one to watch, but it is just the question of whether or not he wants to shut things down and not take extra visits. Same goes for many of these prospects. DJ might end it, but probably not with a visit to Oregon on the dock. The visit has been going very well according to what I have gathered (staff even played some Nipsy in Death Valley). This is not a problem and shouldn’t be a disappoint. Same scenario for Bresee who is taking an official to Oklahoma and likely to take his official visits.

Key visit for Sampah. Clemson led early but hasn’t gotten him back on campus. Room is limited in this class but BV usually gets an extra guy when he wants. Interest will be gauged and Venables also likes 4* LB Trenton Simpson who will be in for the visit. He is the composite #125 overall player. Certainly a situation to watch unfold. 4* CB Henry Gray should also make it in and his interest will be tested. Recruits are going to see the limited slots in the class and some of those spots being taken. This has a way of accelerating some timelines or mutually agreeing to part ways.

Another name to tuck away is TE Diego LaMonica, an underrated basketball turned football player in the mold of a Braden Galloway. There will be some fireworks this weekend, I’m actually typing away right now. For one particular recruit it is a matter of when, not if.

By way of contrast, FSU’s top prospects they are hosting are Knighton and McKinnley (trying to make up ground for both) and that is about it.

If you are on the fence about going to the Spring game—stop it. The chance to see Trevor Lawrence and this group in the glory days of Clemson football is not something to pass up.