Yes, Clemson really did just pull a blue chip recruit out of Austin, TX without a single in-person visit. Today did not start the way many Tiger fans envisioned with 5-star RB DeMarkcus Bowman decommitting from the program, but landing coveted 4-star Safety Andrew Mukuba will certainly help numb the blow. This is a huge win for Brent Venables, there is no other way around it. To beat out Texas for a prospect they coveted from Austin is nothing short of amazing, let alone doing so without receiving a visit. In addition to Clemson, the Longhorns, Sooners, and LSU coveted the verbal of a prospect who will likely be a big riser come final rankings, however, Clemson has been putting work into this recruitment since late Spring, and it paid off for the first Safety commitment in the class.
Teams love that Mukuba is capable of playing both Safety spots in addition to Nickel, making him a potentially very versatile chess piece for Brent Venables to utilize on defense. He is a physical tackler and willing to get his nose dirty in run support. Mukuba also excels in coverage, demonstrating the ability to play both man and zone coverage for his HS program. The instincts are what really jump off the page for Mukuba, and you can see this in coverage, run support, and on the occasional blitz. You also see solid ball skills from a player who is asked to play Wide Receiver in addition to Defensive Back, and in my opinion it is always highly beneficial for a talented DB prospect to play both sides of the ball.
When all is said and done Mukuba could finish ranked as a top 10 Safety in his class, and a likely top 150 overall player. Although he is trending up with many notable scouts, the biggest question marks around Andrew are with his top end athleticism. Despite his play speed showing well on film, his track times up to this point have left a bit to be desired. Mukuba’s senior season will go a long way in answering these questions and ultimately determining where he is ranked by services. At the end of the day, however, Mukuba is a perfect fit for Clemson, the Defense, and Brent Venables, and by the end of his time on campus might remind some Tiger fans of recent Draft pick K’Von Wallace.
Andrew Mukuba (6’0, 190) from LBJ high school in Austin, TX is 17th commitment in the class, and the lone Safety commit/take in this class. He is a really important take since this will be the only Safety in the class. It marks back-to-back years with high profile Safety talent being taken from the state of Texas and the most sustained success in recruiting the state—further solidifying the national Clemson brand in recruiting.
Mukuba is rated in the composite as the 242 player overall, but that is dragged down by a 3* rating that should change after playing his senior year. All the rankings this year need an asterisk with the services not being able to see as many players and many not playing in their senior years. I expect that Mukuba climbs into the top 200 and I would have him rated in the 100-150 range overall.
What Clemson Gets
Andrew is a two-sport athlete in football and track and plays both offense and defense. He can also return kicks and shows a burst in the open field. Demonstrates decent hands as a WR and put up some stats in his junior year on that side of the ball, but his home will be at Safety. On defense he is potentially a versatile piece to slot into the secondary. I think he starts as either a Strong Safety or Free Safety and might play some Nickel.
What stands out on film is Mukuba’s instincts and ability to cover a lot of ground in quickly in space. He isn’t the biggest player, and is probably more 5’11 than 6’0, so he doesn’t have the frame to add a ton of weight, but can likely get to 200 or 205. He plays bigger than his size and strikes players in high school. So, strong enough in run support, covers a lot of ground with decent speed and excellent acceleration, and plus ball skills. He will need to refine the details, technique, and understanding of playing the position, but the instincts are there to be an elite Safety and coverage DB.
Make no mistake, Mukuba is the player the coaches circled and targeted. They beat out hometown Texas and LSU (and to be fair to LSU, they had him on the back burner a bit) and clearly conveyed that Andrew was Clemson’s priority. While Clemson lost CB Hancock to Ohio State, and needs to add an additional pure cover cornerback, Mukuba allays any fears with this class at Safety and adds another quality DB. Mukuba will need to get in the 200 range and learn some details and the complex scheme, but I’d have him as a potential contributor sooner than later and an immediate potential special teams contributor.
What was the hold-up in his potential commitment all these months? Clemson coaches wanted to make sure Andrew and his family all had a chance to get to know each other and the campus to help calcify any commitment. When the NCAA extended the dead period, that was no longer a possibility and expedited the process to this finish line. Although Foreman and Hancock are two high profile de-commitments this class, this kind of patience—actually waiting to have the family visit and slowing down the process—is why Clemson rarely has these de-commitment problems.