With Clemson’s 2020 class in the books it is time to look at the class of 2021. One of the things we try to always harp on is that building a recruiting class isn’t just about getting the blue chip guys, it is about getting the right guys in the right positions to build long-term depth. After the 2020 season we’ll see 13 seniors exhaust their eligibility, plus any early departures for the NFL as well as transfers. One thing to keep in mind is that Clemson still has at least 3 players who will transfer or leave the team this offseason. That could play with a few of these totals depending on the position they play. Below is a position by position breakdown of the roster along with how many additional players Clemson needs in the 2021 class.
QB (4) - While no one is graduating at QB after this year, it is pretty safe to assume Trevor Lawrence will be going pro. Even with some quality backups Clemson needs a QB take in this class just to keep numbers up. Need 1, Commits 0
RB (5) - Travis Etienne and Darien Rencher will depart, but a backlog at RB means the Tigers really only need current class of 2021 commit Phil Mafah. It is possible Clemson could shoot for an oversign here, but there are other positions where the Tigers could spend the scholarship. That said if this class expands RB would be a good spot to take a second player and if anyone transfers Clemson should shoot for a second player. Need 1, Commits 1
WR (7) - Oddly enough Clemson is a little thin at WR after this year. Cornell Powell and Amari Rodgers leave, but we can probably expect Justyn Ross to leave too. One other oddity is walk-on Will Brown who appears to be given a scholarship for this year. That means the Tigers only have 5 scholarship WRs for 2021 if Brown leaves. If the talent is there I’d make the argument that Clemson should take 4 WRs in this class, 2 more in addition to Dacari Collins and Beaux Collins. But I don’t know if that will happen. Clemson has to take at least 3. Need 4, Commits 2
TE (4) - J.C. Chalk and Luke Price will leave Clemson after this year leaving Clemson with 4 TEs. Just to maintain long-term depth the Tigers will want to bring in at least one TE. Jake Briningstool will fill that need here. Need 1, Commits 1
OL (14) - OL is always a contention point. Coach Swinney has made it a point to have around 15 lineman each year, to a lot of us at STS that number is low and we’d like to see it more like 18 lineman on the roster. This year Cade Stewart leaves and there is a possibility Jackson Carman leaves as well. Because of that as well as our general disposition towards more OL we feel the Clemson needs at least 3 if not 4 OL just to maintain current numbers. Need 4, Commits 2
DT (10) - After a thin roster in 2019, Clemson looks poised to have a strong 2020 and 2021 roster at DT. Nyles Pinckney is the only definite departure, but the Edward twins seem likely to depart after playing for 4 years. That would give Clemson 1-2 scholarships at DT. With the current talent Clemson can afford to be picky at DT bt should likely take at least one player if not 2. Need 2, Commits 1
DE (5) - This year DE is where Clemson is extremely thin. Justin Foster will leave after the 2020 season and the Tigers will only have 5 guys on the roster. Clemson has to sign at least 3 DEs in this class, unless the staff figures out how to move a player or two around to fill the roster. Need 3, Commits 2
LB (10) - Clemson has a real logjam at LB with 10 guys expected back for the 2021 roster. Linebacker is always hard to predict for the Tigers because of how Venables utilizes his LBs and DBs, especially in the SAM/Nickel role. With Jeremiah Trotter Jr. already committed it is hard to say we’d need more than a special talent or two at the position. Need 1, Commits 1
CB (7) - Cornerback is another position where the numbers are fine, but from a depth perspective it would be nice to sign at least one CB to help even out numbers by class. Need 1, Commits 0
S (6) - Safety is in the same position as cornerback where the overall numbers are ok, but a player or two would be nice to help with future depth. Need 1, Commits 0
ST (3) - Will Spiers will leave the team after this year leaving on 3 kickers and punters on the team. My guess is we’ll see the staff grab someone, though if it is a recruit or a walk on who knows.
Based on these needs the class size would have to be around at least 18 players. The 13 players will depart after exhausting their eligibility and a few walk-ons will likely leave as well after playing 4 years. Add in a couple of known early departures and that gets us to 18 easily. The class could easily extend to 20-22 depending on transfers and early departures that we won’t know about until the 2021 season progresses. If the class expands that much I’d say the staff would need to target another safety and CB, possibly a LB