Dabo Swinney and Clemson rebounded strongly from yesterday’s loss with the addition of the now highest-rated member of their 2021 recruiting class. This recruitment has been a roller coaster, with LSU, Clemson, and Oklahoma all leading for stretches of 2020. In the Spring, Clemson believed they would be able to secure a commitment from Leigh possibly as soon as the Spring Football game. But the dead period brought about by the pandemic kept Leigh from taking the visits he wanted and caused him to slow down the process.
This hurt Clemson, and they fell almost completely out of the picture for months, as LSU and especially Oklahoma rose to the forefront. LSU suffered from a disastrous season while going to school in Oklahoma is quite far from his home in Virginia. As things played out down the stretch, Clemson proved to check the most boxes. An added twist here was that Tristan’s family is relocating to the area around the school he chooses. Clemson was the most attractive location both to live, as well as in proximity to both family and home.
Many will be reminded of the recruitment of Jackson Carman, and there are certainly many parallels. The result is one of the more surprising recruiting wins of the past few cycles for the Tigers, and it comes at a huge position of need. Clemson moves up to the 4th overall spot in 24/7 Sport’s team rankings and now has 3 5-star rated prospects.
What Clemson Gets
Unfortunately, Tristan has been unable to play his senior season due to Virginia’s being moved to the Spring. Thankfully, however, Leigh is such an elite prospect that there is already plenty of evidence both on film and in camp settings to see his ability. Leigh is currently rated by 24/7 as the 11th overall prospect in the country on their Composite rankings and is a bona fide 5-star talent. He has as much upside as just about any tackle in the class, and the athleticism especially sticks out. Leigh comes into college with an ideal frame to add weight, and despite being 270-280 pounds looks lean for his size.
These are characteristics many high-level pro linemen also share. He is a great functional athlete in that he’s coordinated, dexterous, and in full control despite being over 6’5”. Length also sticks out, and once he fills out he will be a force. That length will serve him well in pass protection, but he also shows light feet and elite lateral agility for a Tackle prospect. He possesses a nastiness I’d love to see more of from the Clemson Offensive Line and does a great job of finishing blocks. That applies not only to blocks at the line of scrimmage but also at the second level where you really get to see that functional athleticism shine. While Leigh generally plays with good pad level and leverage, he can become more consistent at it as well. Ultimately, he’s one of the no-brainer Offensive Line prospects that every program is desperate to land.
Right from the onset of when the first offers were sent out in this class, Tristan Leigh was one of the recruits Clemson singled out as a priority. It was never a slam dunk, but recruiting is a funny thing. He will need to add weight when he gets to campus, but he is as talented as any offensive lineman Clemson has ever landed. Winning battles like these are how you become more dominant in the trenches, and winning this particular recruitment might be the most important of the entire cycle.
While Leigh might need some time to get bigger, his upside is enormous, and he is likely capable of playing any position on the line. Leigh has first-round potential written all over him given his comprehensive profile as a prospect, and most notably his athleticism and measurables. The Virginian has multi-year starter ability and an elite draft ceiling. Clemson is continuing to build a stronger Offensive Line with each passing class and today is another huge step in the right direction.