It has been nothing short of a wild year for recruiting. COVID-19 has completely altered the landscape of football both on and off the field, and pursuing talented high school prospects has become significantly restricted. The unique situation hasn’t done Clemson any favors, and the lack of visits combined with a bit of negative press hurt the 2021 class’ momentum. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as there’s still meat left on the bone in 2021, and a boatload of potential for the class behind it.
Where Clemson Sits With Remaining 2021 Targets
It would be tough to argue that Clemson hasn’t been hurt by the stoppage of visits. The good news for Clemson is that three-quarters of the class was filled by the end of Spring. However, the bad news is that not getting prospects on campus might have cost the Tigers multiple elite prospects.
Clemson’s offensive class is pretty much complete at this point. The top targets left on the board are 5-star OT Tristan Leigh and 5-star WR Emeka Egbuka. The former looked like he could join the class in the Spring, but elected to slow things down and has since trended heavily elsewhere. There was nice momentum with Egbuka at one point, but Ohio State really took over his recruitment in March/April. Clemson also took a swing at 5-star OT Nolan Rucci, but the talented Pennsylvanian committed to Wisconsin 2 weeks ago.
That’s not to say that there will be no new additions, however. Will Taylor, an in-state 3-star WR received an offer last week and was immediately projected into the class by insiders. This is for good reason, as he is already committed to the Tigers for Baseball. Taylor could be drafted high enough in the upcoming MLB draft that he never steps foot on campus, but if he does get to suit up for the football team he will hopefully help fulfill the true slot WR role the coaching staff have looked to fill throughout the 2021 class.
The staff may also look to add a 4th OL, specifically at tackle. Landing Dietrick Pennington was a huge pickup, but taking another offensive tackle in the class would benefit the long-term health of the position group. Diego Pounds, a 3-star tackle out of the Tar Heel state was in communication with Clemson’s coaches, but that seems to have tailed off since Pennington’s commitment. In the mean time, keep an eye out for a late-emerging prospect that could be added to the class.
Defensively, although the Tigers have slipped with some of their top targets, a strong close could propel the class on that side of the ball to be pretty special. The primary need remaining for the class is at corner, which makes the loss of 4-star Jordan Hancock to Ohio State that much harder to swallow. Hancock could very well be the top prospect in the class at his position, and finding a substitute has already proven difficult. Nyland Green is the first choice replacement, but after a stretch of time where Clemson led, UGA appears to have taken pole position heading into the home stretch of this recruitment.
Kamari Lassiter is the other priority target at corner. Lassiter is based out of Tuscaloosa, but Clemson’s biggest competition is actually Auburn. Auburn has been recruiting Lassiter longer and harder than any other school, but Clemson has made a big move of late and has made this one interesting as we approach a decision.
The defensive line class is full of upside already, but if they can, Clemson would obviously love to add Korey Foreman back to the fold. LSU and Georgia are the leaders as of today, and Clemson will need to get Korey back on campus, ideally for an official, if it wants to have a shot. This week Foreman said he was going to take all of his official visits, implying a that a decision will not come until 2021.
Clemson’s lone safety target in 2021 has long been Andrew Mukuba out of Texas. The staff have prioritized Mukuba since early in the Spring, and would love to add the talented defender’s versatile skill set to the DB room. Momentum seems to be with the Tigers, but Texas still believes they have a shot as well with a decision coming next week on October 1st.
Clemson commits shining during Senior season
Despite the tough stretch of recruiting, Clemson’s class is still pound for pound one of the best in the country. However, there have been 2 players in particular who have really stood out from the group early in their senior campaigns, and both are a continuation of strong recruiting in Georgia.
Although RB commit Phil Mafah is a lower-rated 4-star according to most services, he is likely due for a solid rankings rise if he continues to perform as he has early on this season. Mafah’s Junior season was impacted by injury, but he is off and running through 2 weeks, with stat lines of 16 carries for over 220 yards, and 23 carries for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns against 2 strong teams in Georgia. Regardless of rankings, Shipley and Mafah are an exciting one-two punch for a single class at the RB position.
If there has been one Clemson commit to shine more than any other so far it has been LB Barrett Carter. With a stat line of 10 tackles, 2 TFL, a pick-six, a rushing TD, and a 2-point conversion pass, Barrett proved why he’s the highest-rated commit in the class, and even made his case for 5-star status. Carter gives Tiger Fans another exciting LB prospect to look forward to, and will eventually fill the starting SAM LB role. You can see some of Carter’s highlights against one of the very best teams in Georgia below:
2022 class showing major potential
I will cover this more next week, but the early returns and recruiting efforts of the Tigers for the class following the current cycle have been extremely fruitful. The 2022 class is shaping up to be special, possibly even as special as the incredible 2020 group reeled in last year. The staff has done an excellent job laying the ground work, and once visits are permitted again there will be many high-profile 2022 prospects wanting to visit in short order.