After what’s felt like a lifetime since the last season of Clemson Football ended, it is finally once again the best time of the year! With hopefully 15 games to be played this season, the Tigers have not even begun their title defense yet. Fortunately on the recruiting front, Clemson’s taken care of almost all of its most pertinent off-field business already, and doesn’t have much work left to do before finishing up its 2020 class.
Currently holding the #1 recruiting class across every major service, Clemson’s class is already a complete and utter success no matter who else they add or fail to add in the remaining months. With 20 commitments already in the class, there are at most 3 spots remaining to be filled before there is no more room. Logan Cash’s scholarship will likely be carried over to the 2021 class, which will probably feature a similar number of spots as the 2020 class when all is said and done.
With that said, there are still some really big fish available in the 2020 class that the Tigers would love to close on before this cycle ends. I’d be very wary of a late cycle UGA run for the #1 class, but otherwise it will be very difficult to unseat Clemson from the top of the rankings. If Clemson can land all of its realistic remaining targets and get to a full 23, they’ll likely have one of the top 5 highest scoring classes in recruiting history based on 24/7’s rankings.
Who’s still available?
The probable top target left on the coaches’ board, and my #1 remaining want for the 2020 cycle would be 5-star LB Justin Flowe. Clemson continues to carry a massive lead with the rare LB prospect, but it remains to be seen exactly when Flowe decides. There has been a lot of chatter about a potential September decision date, however, right now nothing is concrete. I would lean towards a decision sooner rather than later. If Clemson is able to pull this off it would be arguably the biggest recruiting coup in program history due to variables such as geography, position, and national ranking among many others.
Jordan Burch is another big fish still left on the board, as the 5-star DE is the highest-rated remaining uncommitted target according to recruiting services. General consensus among recruiting experts seems to be that Clemson and UGA are out front, with the hometown pull of South Carolina in Columbia as a potential darkhorse. This recruitment is going to end up a heavyweight battle between UGA and Clemson, and visits during the season will be extremely important.
It was surprising to see Burch struggle so much during his nationally-televised game on Sunday. While he is still raw and can use that as an excuse, he was outplayed by much smaller lineman and showed very little effort throughout a game in which his team was dominated. Jordan would’ve benefited massively from a year at IMG rather than at Hammond where the competition level is so low. Even so, Burch’s athletic ability and upside indicate that this is more of a one-off performance than anything else, however, it could be something worth tracking throughout the season.
Moving on to WR, where Clemson has one spot remaining for three targets. The first and most likely being 4-star Xzavier Henderson, who has upside as high as any WR in the class. The tall, athletic WR fits the mold that Clemson often looks for in its WR prospects, and is expected to have a huge Senior season. The second of the three prospects is someone who really shouldn’t even be considered as a WR prospect. Arik Gilbert, a top-15 prospect out Georgia has recently harped on how much he wants to play WR, despite his upside being clearly higher at TE. Ultimately though, Gilbert should be viewed as a huge longshot, with Alabama, Tennessee, and UGA making up his top 3 and probably in that order.
ARIK GILBERT (@arik_gilbert) MADE A MOVIE THURSDAY NIGHT! WATCH all of his highlights from the @CorkyKell right here!! @tballardqbcoach @MHSFBFAMILY @_VR2_ @DawgNation @bamainsider @ClemsonTigerNet @HBailey_05 @msgeesclass @Wlmel10 @mdjonline pic.twitter.com/FUDrNzvzLN— Junior Baker NLR (@SouthernSwagg4) August 27, 2019
Finally, and arguably the most intriguing prospect of the bunch could be 4-star WR Arian Smith out of Lakeland High School. Smith runs an insanely fast 100m time at 10.39 seconds, and has enormous upside on both sides of the ball largely because of this. For comparisons sake, Alabama WR Henry Ruggs ran a 10.58 in High School and is allegedly running a 4.25 40-yard dash at present day. Whether or not Clemson offers is still up in the air, but this is a prospect with a skill set unlike anything Clemson already has on the roster and would be a huge addition. Smith’s HUDL can be found here.
Outside of those candidates, there is no one else on the radar for Clemson as the class is all but full at this point. This has allowed the coaches to divert more attention to 2021 recruiting, which is why you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that next cycle’s class is about to take off as well. I expect Clemson’s 2021 class to begin filling up as soon as September, with the potential to add a good few more before the end of the season. The next step for Tiger recruiting will be to knock the Texas A&M game out of the park both on and off the field. There will be a large number of 2021 prospects on campus, and because this is Clemson’s biggest home game of the season, it would be a good opportunity for Burch to potentially make an appearance too. With so many prospects close to committing, the next few months could prove to be incredibly fruitful.