As we do each year, we are looking back at previous Clemson recruiting classes. This year we take a look at the class of 2014 since every player has completed their Clemson career. Because of the size of the class of 2014 we’ve broken this up into two articles, this one focuses on recruits that ended up on the offensive side of the ball.
A reminder, a 5 star recruit is expected to contribute immediately and earn starting job relatively quickly. A 4 star recruit may take a year or two to start contributing, and a 3 star player may not contribute until his junior or senior year.
In part one of this article we are going to take a look at the offense. Obviously Deshaun Watson is the gem in the class, but what was interesting when going back to look at this class was how it was full of glue guys for the 2016 title. Most of us will remember these names on offense, but none of them were stars outside of Watson. Honestly this was a kind of meh class. A lot of guys met the benchmark for success based on their ranking, but there were more than a few misses, especially when it comes to early departures for non-playing reasons. If you’d like to look at what we said about these guys when they originally signed with Clemson, check out this article.
Deshaun Watson – QB (4 star): We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Watson and it is pretty obvious he was a hit. DW4 has been the best QB in Clemson history so far and he lived up to the hype coming out of high school. One thing I want to highlight for laughs is our comment when he signed in 2014, “We are hopeful that he can take a RS in 2014 and then take off from there.” I think it is fair to say we were a smidge off on that one.
Adam Choice – RB (4 star): Choice is my candidate for, “Wait that guy was how many stars?” In this class. Choice was a solid back at Clemson, but it is hard to say he met expectations of a 4 star RB. Some of that is being out recruited and some of that was scheme, playcalling, and other resources on offense. I don’t think you can call Choice a flat out miss, but he wasn’t a complete hit either.
C.J. Fuller – RB (3 star): From a football standpoint C.J. Fuller was a dependable backup at Clemson. As a 3 star he was a contributor that was comfortable in a zone running scheme and he was a dependable blocker when Clemson needed one. At the time of his commitment we mentioned that taking Fuller seemed a little odd just because the team could reach for a more talented player. But Fuller will always be remembered at Clemson for helping to set the stage for the 2016 title winning drive. His kick return was one tackle away from a touchdown and the 20-yard run helped make it easier for Watson to drive the Tigers down the field. With a year of eligibility remaining Fuller left the team as a graduate transfer. Sadly, he involved in a robbery and was unable to latch on with another team afterwards. In a tragic turn of events he passed away last fall after suffering from a blood clot in his lungs.
Artavis Scott – WR (4 star): Another hit in the class of 2014, Scott really made his mark in 2015 when Mike Williams went down with a neck injury. His quickness and acceleration were an invaluable assets that year. Scott averaged at least 8 yards a catch 6 catches per game during his 3 years at Clemson before departing early. It was a bit surprising to see him leave early, but a 4th year at Clemson wasn’t likely to improve his draft stock much.
Trevion Thompson – WR (4 star): Trevion is a classic example of a talented player who just got out recruited at his position. Coming into Clemson Thompson had a lot of potential. He had the physical tools to succeed at WR and ran quality routes as well. Unfortunately it took Thompson a few years to put everything together and by then he got out recruited my more talented wide receivers. Thompson never caught more than 20 balls in a season and because of that he’s technically a bust, but he was a good role player during his time at Clemson.
Demarre Kitt – WR (4 star): One of three 4 star receivers in this class, Kitt was also a miss by the staff after he decided to transfer after a season at Clemson. Kitt never quite found the right fit after Clemson, he spent several years at a variety of JUCOs before committing to Colorado State. That apparently fell through as well and Kitt drifted out of football.
Kyrin Priester – WR (4 star): This was another miss by the staff, though this one was for the rare reason of being a non-football issue. We described Priester as an Adam Humphries-esque receiver but with more speed than Nuk, a tantalizing combination. Unfortunately Priester never got to realize that potential. After a single game at Clemson he was dismissed from the team by Swinney for an attitude issue. Eventually Priester ended up at Washington State where he was dismissed twice. Once in the summer of 2016 and then in May 2017 after being allowed to rejoin the team.
Milan Richard – TE (4 star): Possibly the most frustrating take in this class, Richard seemed destined to be the heir apparent at TE. An excellent athlete, we expected him to contribute after Leggett’s departure and when he signed we even said that he was the best TE we’ve signed since Dwayne Allen. Unfortunately, that never translated to great production and led to the TE being one position where Clemson lacked consistent production over the last two years. Technically a hit in terms of playing time, but a miss in production.
Cannon Smith – TE (4 star): TE can be a difficult position to project and Smith never did get things going. Despite having a real opportunity to seize a starting spot after Jordan Leggett left Smith never could grab the starting spot and wasn’t able to do much on the field. As a 4 star recruit this was definitely a miss.
Justin Falcinelli – OL (3 star): Despite some angst from us Falcinelli ended up being a great take. A 2 year starter on the OL is nothing to sneeze at and he did a good job helping to anchor the line in 2018. Like many OL he redshirted his first year and then was able to contribute enough every year to play over 100 snaps and in over 10 games a season. That’s the type of career path we like to see out of OL as they develop.
Taylor Hearn – OL (3 star): As a recruit one of Hearn’s defining traits was his desire to play through the whistle, something this team was lacking. After arriving at Clemson Hearn redshirted before becoming a 2-year starter in 2016 and 2017. Hearn left a year early, unusual for an OL, and wasn’t drafted but then signed with the Carolina Panthers. Even though he left early Hearn was a hit by the staff here.