What are we going to do under quarantine? Talk about recruiting, of course. I hope everyone is staying inside and remains healthy and safe.
With all camps and visits shut down, recruiting continues with coaches invading every Instagram account and getting on Facebook Live as much as possible. Luckily, Clemson got in their major visits before COVID-19 shut everything down. Clemson was trending for a few prospects who were contemplating making decisions, but that has mostly been put on hold until the Summer is over. Right now it isn’t a big deal for Clemson recruiting because Clemson coaches, uncharacteristically in college football, go on an extended vacation where Coach Swinney doesn’t recruit and they don’t hold Summer official visits.
If Clemson can’t hold Summer camps then that could be problematic for some scouting of 2022 and 2023 prospects, but those can be rescheduled. There might need to be aggressive fall recruiting, but much of the 2021 hay is in the proverbial barn already.
On offense Clemson is looking for 1-2 QB’s, 0-1 RB’s, 0 TE’s, 1-2 WR’s, and 1-2 OL. Many are only if there is an oversign caliber player at the position.
This list is a combination of who I would like to see Clemson target combined with who Clemson is actually targeting and the likelihood that Clemson can land the prospect.
- OT Tristan Leigh (6’5, 270)
This has been my guy since the jump and probably my man crush recruit. Clemson needs tackle depth in a big way and I called Leigh a 5* when I saw him last Summer. At the time he was ranked number 168 and others were higher on other Tackles (it is actually a deep class for Tackle). Well, after all the recent updates to recruiting rankings, Leigh now sits at number 15 in the composite and a 5*.
This amount of recruiting buzz isn’t helping Clemson in recruiting (Clemson wanted to leverage its position into a commitment before the start of the season). Leigh has hit the pause button and will probably give Penn State, Bama, and maybe LSU another look before deciding. Could extend things with official visits. Leigh checks all the boxes you want at Tackle. Plus athleticism, mean streak, and length. Needs to continue to fill out frame.
2. OT Nolan Rucci (6’7, 290)
Another Tackle! And really—Rucci could also be number one. They both have starting left tackle potential and at Clemson would immediately land in the two deep (especially if Carman goes to the NFL). Both are oversign type prospects. Rucci’s father played 8 seasons in the NFL and you can see Nolan’s advanced technique at the high school level. He is tall, playing against competition he is just destroying, so he sometimes needs a bit more knee bend and will need to improve strength at the college level, but all the tools are present. Knows how to use his hands and shows decent pad level despite his size. Obvious length and frame to carry 310 pounds easily. This isn’t a hard evaluation.
While many have viewed this as a Penn State lock (his dad played at Penn St), Rucci has taken his time and is open to other schools. His brother plays for Wisconsin, which makes them a factor as well. Rucci’s last visit, however, was to Clemson and Clemson has the momentum in this recruitment. Don’t count Clemson out here.
3. RB Will Shipley (5’11, 200)
I’m ‘All In’ on Shipley.
He is a total package kind of player who can catch the ball out of the backfield, beat safeties with speed, and break tackles. He ran a 4.46 laser timed 40 and is a relentless worker. Does it all for his high school team and performs at a high level against the best competition in NC. Really like his vision in the open field and ability to finish runs down the field. He is good at cutting but might not have the wiggle of other backs. If Clemson doesn’t land Shipley then it will move to 2022 for a RB. Shipley or bust. Clemson has the edge on Notre Dame right now.
4. WR Emeka Egbuka (6’1, 190)
Clemson remains in the hunt for the top overall WR in the country. This has shaped up into an Ohio State vs Clemson battle (a regular theme on the recruiting trail this cycle as OSU has developed into the biggest thorn in Clemson’s side in recruiting). Emeka has an elite blend of size, speed, and strength. He played really well in the 7 on 7’s before everything shut down. Ran a laser timed 4.42. Although he is from Washington, there is a good chance he will leave the state. Clemson needs to get him on a visit before they are within striking distance, but an oversign you can wait on (if Clemson gets Stellato below, this will certainly be a discussion with regards to class size and space but Egbuka is someone you pursue). Again, Clemson is in a better position here than most think.
5. WR Troy Stellato (6’0, 170)
Clemson has zeroed in on Stellato as their slot take in this class. Last year’s poor showing from the WR’s in both the semi and final showed the coaching staff that they need a bit more variety in the WR room. They want a Renfrow type of body who can get open in the slot. Stellato checks a lot of those boxes, especially with Beaux and Dacari Collins already committed. He also ran a 4.42 laser timed 40 and has the elite straight line speed you want. He isn’t as jitterbug quick as Mario Williams, but this is the guy who new WR coach Tyler Grisham has zeroed in on. There is a reason this is another Ohio State and Clemson battle with Clemson holding another slight advantage. Stellato has risen from being a low 4* to inside the top 150 and probably creeps close to the top 100 when all is said and done.
6. QB Caleb Williams (6’1, 209)
Why is the number 5 overall player in the class composite ranked here at number 6? Clemson has its work cut out to land Williams and pull him away from Oklahoma. Not impossible, but not likely at this point. LSU is also a potential player with Maryland (closer to home) always trying to make things difficult/weird. Williams is easily the top QB in the class, which lacks the top end firepower of other classes at QB.
The shadow of DJ is long on the recruiting trail (every QB recruit knows about DJ in the 2021 class—and with good reason). Clemson moved Batson to Safety, which is where he should be and wanted to be coming in, so there is a real need for depth. Clemson is definitely bringing in one QB and might even take two (I would go for quality over quantity personally and use the spot at another position).
7. QB Christian Veilleux (6’3, 200)
I was a fan of dual threat QB Ty Thompson before he committed to Oregon, and honestly you can slot in a number of different potential QB takes here. Veilleux’s name keeps popping up. He is more of a pro passer than a dual threat, with a solid all-around skill set, but no elite tools. Good size and accuracy. Throws a catchable ball, but doesn’t have the elite arm talent to make all the throws, however, that can come in time with added strength. Level of competition will be an adjustment. This is actually a position where I wouldn’t mind bringing in a grad transfer as a stop gap for the second take, but there is still talent on the board (just not sure there are two QB’s I would want). And Clemson just offered—this is where I have heard this was going—significant development. He already visited in January with family, but was waiting on this offer.
8. Tommy Brockermeyer (6’6, 280)
Fences can be mended, bridges restored! I’d like to see Clemson try to get Tommy back on campus after the quarantine. I think there could be a chance to reboot the relationship. Not likely at this point and Rucii and Leigh are the priorities.
OK. Maybe it won’t happen. We could also slot Amarius Mims here too as a high value Tackle prospects that Clemson needs to get on campus to have any traction with, but worth the time to pursue.
9. OT/OG Dietrick Pennington (6’5, 326)
Now this is a name to watch. I know we are already super Oline heavy and I think Clemson only takes 1-2, more Olineman (with the outside chance of sneaking in 3 more), but I am including Dietrick because I know coaches on the staff really like him a lot. He was a three star to begin with but has already risen to 242 overall in the composite. This was a guy that Clemson wanted to stash away and keep from other programs.
He is a mauler who is thick but has good enough feet to be pretty versatile on the offensive line. Very good pickup for somebody. Plays two ways in high school and could be a DT at the college level.
10. Honorable Mentions: Any number of WR’s if we miss on the top guys. Romello Brinson. JoJo Earle. Mario Williams (would be on the list but we went with Stellato and he moved on). I like the games of Brian Thomas Jr and Troy Franklin, but we likely aren’t touching those two. I was personally a bigger fan of TE Brock Bowers who came to visit Clemson’s campus, but Clemson coaches already had their guy in Briningstool.
Part 2 with the defense coming soon.