This weekend represented not just a massive win on the field over Texas A&M, but also a huge step forward in a multitude of different recruitments. The stars were out in Clemson on Saturday to the tune of 8 uncommitted 5-star prospects across 3 classes. The victory and crowd intensity registered a notable impression on many of the recruits, and you’ll continue to see the fruits of this weekend over the coming weeks.
As previously stated there were highly-rated prospects showing up in droves. Clemson furthered its relationships with nearly all of them. The arguable headliner, Jordan Burch was expected in, however, he could not attend. Clemson still likely has the edge in this recruitment per multiple insiders, but it’s going to be a battle until the very end. Burch is scheduled to visit South Carolina and UGA over the next 2 weeks, so this was a missed opportunity for the Tigers. Other notable 2020 visitors include 4-star WR Arian Smith and 5-star TE Arik Gilbert. Smith continues to be one to watch down the stretch, and the continued pursuit likely indicates the staff is not completely confident it lands other WR target Xzavier Henderson. More on Gilbert later.
As for 2021 visitors, the potential of the 2021 DB class is higher than maybe any class in the Dabo era. Clemson could legitimately land 2 5-star Corners in Ga’Quincy Mckinstry and Tony Grimes, a top-50 Safety prospect in Derrick Davis, and another blue chip DB (who I believe will rise in the rankings) in Treveyon Henderson in a Nickel/Safety role. All but Davis were on campus, and the returns on all 3 are promising. Henderson seems most likely to decide soon, and Clemson has to be feeling good about their chances there. The 2 highly-rated corners still have a ways to go in recruitment, but I expect Clemson to be there until the end for both prospects regardless of their current standing.
I still like Clemson for 5-star DT Payton Page. As long as the Tigers don’t lose to the Tar Heels on the road in a few weeks I have a hard time seeing Page end up elsewhere. Todd Bates has done an incredible job here. The top QB in 2021 also visited despite DJ Uiagalelei already being committed in 2020. Williams is a mega-talent who I think will finish as a top 2-3 prospect in his class, however, asking him to follow Uiagalelei will be a near impossible sell for the staff. Speaking of QBs, 2022 QB MJ Morris was also on campus. Despite fellow Georgian Gunner Stockton being rated as a higher prospect per recruiting services, it is rumored that the coaching staff prefers MJ Morris. Morris has a live arm, and from every 2022 QB I’ve seen so far Morris is the best. Getting him on campus for this game was an underrated, but essential win to continued elite QB recruiting.
Finally, this weekend produced 2 blue-chip commitments for the coaching staff. The first was 4-star WR Dacari Collins out of Georgia. You can read my write up for Collins here. While Collins’ commitment was expected, Jeremiah Trotter’s was a complete shock to many including myself. Trotter was not even included on the guest list ahead of the game, and I didn’t know that he was even a target for the staff. I am admittedly surprised that Trotter was a take so early in the cycle for the staff given the loaded LB board in 2021, but they did evaluate him in person over the Summer.
I’d like to thank all the coaches and teams that have given me the opportunity to play college football for them. Although I am very excited and blessed to say I am 110% committed to the University of Clemson!#goTigers @ClemsonFB pic.twitter.com/PVB3Okj4dR— Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (@JeremiahTrotte2) September 8, 2019
At first glance, the 4-star prospect out of PA appears to play faster than the listed 4.81 40, and 4.56 shuttle times. He’s not the biggest prospect at 6’0 or 6’1, and lacks length beyond that. He plays for a premier High School program and plays top competition as a result. He shows a strong ability to close on the ball and play downhill, and also flashes promising striking ability. He is very instinctual, and shows great ability to time his blitzes and shoot gaps. His drop into coverage really needs work, and in general Trotter seems stiff through the hips which greatly affects his ability to change direction. I want to see more of Trotter’s Junior season before doing a full write-up (he’s only played 2-3 games), because right now he comes off as a mid-to-low tier blue chip prospect. Due to who Clemson could’ve still landed at LB, you have to trust the staff’s evaluation on this prospect, and he’ll be one I’ll be looking forward to tracking throughout the season.
With Burch not making it in, the de facto headliner became 5-star TE Arik Gilbert. I’m going to maintain what I’ve said all cycle about Gilbert, that he is nothing short of a freakshow in every sense of the term. This is the best TE prospect I’ve seen, even better than OJ Howard. Everything about his talent indicates a future 1st round pick and he is unstoppable at every level of competition he’s currently playing in. Rankings be damned, if the Tigers landed Gilbert he would automatically become one of the 2 or 3 most talented players in a #1 class that already has 6 5-stars committed.
Gilbert surprised many when he showed up this weekend, and in my opinion it’s indicative of his interest in Clemson. I wrote in the comments on Saturday that things were starting to get interesting and they are. Alabama is still the pretty obvious leader, but Clemson is hanging around. The Tigers have to continue to outlast the competition. UGA has led in this recruitment, now they appear to be out of it. Tennessee has led this recruitment, but they are unsurprisingly trending in the wrong direction after their horrific start to the season. The Dawgs and the Vols peaked too early in this recruitment, and Alabama has already used up its Official Visit. This one is obviously a little trickier than that, but we’ll see what happens down the stretch. I expect Clemson to get an Official Visit.
Other commits soon?
Keep your eye out for other commitments in the coming weeks. 4-star TE Jake Briningstool was pegged by many to commit this weekend, and while it hasn’t happened just yet I don’t think it will be long. I would also pay close attention to 4-star Center Ryan Linthicum, Briningstool, 4-star LB Power Echols, and 4-star DB TreVeyon Henderson over the coming weeks. There are also a handful of 2021 prospects who are in all likelihood just 1 visit away from being put on commit watch as well.
One prospect I’ve written about in the past as someone who would be deciding early in the season did so late last night when 4-star LB Reid Carrico committed to the Buckeyes. Carrico flirted with Clemson, but without getting him on campus a second time or him meeting Coach Dabo Swinney, it was always going to be a longshot. As I’ve harped on, however, this is not a position you need to worry about in the 2021 class. Clemson’s next home game is in 11 days, and it’s a safe bet that there will be plenty of prospects attending.