Despite what’s been an up and down season on the field, Clemson has not stopped recruiting at an extremely high clip. The Tigers have established a national brand with enough staying power that hiccups are not overly damning. Because of that, the 2022 recruiting class looks elite already and is poised to add a few more blue-chips still.
Although Clemson’s 2022 class is smaller, it’s jam-packed with talent. This will be bittersweet news to Tiger fans who are undoubtedly excited to have great players coming in, but are also likely disappointed Clemson continues to under recruit in terms of total scholarship players. The program has essentially self-imposed a death penalty on its roster in a situation that was entirely avoidable with even a slight adjustment to roster management.
But in recruiting especially, fundamental changes to processes take time to implement and execute. It is unlikely we see a policy change reflected in this class given the relationships already built and expedited nature of recruiting as a result of the Early Signing Period. They will look to continue adding to 2022, but also will not force a take either.
So what’s left on the board for 2022?
Similar to past seasons, the majority of Clemson’s recruiting for the most current class is completed before any games are played. Dabo Swinney and staff have done an outstanding job with this class, and all 13 players committed have the talent/ability to impact the program (especially defensively).
There is still meat left on the bone, however, and the Tigers will look to add another handful of prospects along the offensive side of the ball as well as along the defensive line.
There are still a number of boxes to check in terms of offensive skill talent, and among others, the 2022 class still lacks a running back. A big reason for that was due to having 7 scholarship players at the position heading into the season. There is also a lack of depth nationally at RB this cycle, and because of that the urgency to add another RB dwindled even further. Trevor Etienne has emerged as a potential addition for obvious reasons, although its certainly not a guarantee even given his lineage. Trevor does not possess the same skill set or speed as Travis but is stout and more advanced as a receiver than the latter was in high school. This position is still very much up in the air heading into the home stretch for this class.
TE recruiting looked especially promising at the beginning of the year. Clemson felt like it had 3 very talented TEs it was recruiting, and it seemed more likely than not that they would land at least 1. Unfortunately, that dream officially died when Oscar Delp chose the Bulldogs last week.
In-state TE Jaleel Skinner chose the Crimson Tide (though is keeping his options open). Skinner more than passes the eye test and some will even argue is the best at his position this year. Skinner wants to play in a primarily WR role, but likely lacks the top-end speed to do it at an elite level. Clemson’s TE performances this season haven’t helped, and I’m not sure this was a fit off the field either. Target Jake Johnson committed to LSU during the off-season.
With their top 3 targets now off the board, Clemson made a move on in-state Josh Sapp, who pulled the trigger yesterday soon after being offered. Sapp is slightly undersized but has received high marks from people within the Palmetto state. He has been a huge factor for his HS team as a receiver, and is a nice consolation prize for the Tigers given the talent they’ve pulled at TE over the last few cycles.
In addition to a TE, Clemson is looking to add at least one more WR to the class as well. This perhaps took on additional urgency as the season has progressed, and Andre Greene has appeared to be the primary target at the position since he camped in early Summer. Greene has since slowed down the recruiting process, giving both himself and the schools recruiting him a chance to assess their situations. I am not entirely sold on Greene being a member of this class.
Enter Antonio Williams, the in-state talent that many are clamoring for to receive an offer. Williams is a better fit for the slot WR position than Greene, though it appears the staff has not made a decision on their preference this season. I don’t think you can complain about landing either talent, however, Williams is probably needed a bit more given the current roster make-up. It continues to look more and more likely that Clemson will add at least a slot receiver to the class.
The early season struggles have also led Dabo to evaluate taking a 3rd OL this class. This should’ve been something the staff was doing regardless of how this season has gone in my opinion. Earnest Greene out of St. John Bosco is one they’re taking a swing at. It’s likely too late on that front with Georgia’s teeth already sunk in, but Clemson may be able to persuade a visit out of him.
Defensively, there is not as much left to add to the class, however, the players they’ve already taken are generally outstanding. Clemson is looking to pick up at least one more blue-chip caliber prospect for its presently small, yet talented crop of committed DL. There are not many targets remaining, and all will be difficult recruitment to win. Communication has recently ramped up with Khurtiss Perry. I have always been a big fan of Perry’s film, however, concerns have surfaced over his size and he’s fallen down the boards of other top programs. Even still, the quick twitch potential of Perry on the interior DL is tantalizing, and would become one of the more underrated pulls of the class should it materialize.
Offered fairly recently was Marvin Jones Jr., who might just be the best pass rusher in the class. Clemson was a little late to offer, but should Jones choose another school that would not be the reason why. Alabama, Florida, Miami, and FSU are all involved while the Tigers try to get him to campus this season. A visit is a prerequisite to any further courtship.
Shemar Stewart is also considering Clemson and may give an Official visit, but this is not usually the type of recruitment that they win. Georgia, Texas A&M, and Miami are the likely leaders now that LSU has fallen off.
Finally is Caden Curry, a DE/DT tweener that flashes high-level athleticism and pass rush potential. Curry has always seemed to have his eye on Ohio State, but Dabo Swinney’s program has always been a great culture fit, so we’ll see if Clemson can make any more headway. I do not envision any other Linebackers, nor Defensive backs joining the class, ass Clemson has already done an exceptional job in those areas.
Any talk about top-performing commits has to begin with Cade Klubnik. The now 5-star Texan has begun his Senior season phenomenally. With Quinn Ewers enrolled at Ohio State, many HS Football experts tout Klubnik as the best prep QB in the country. He has not disappointed, throwing for 1300 yards, 19 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions along with an impressive 72% completion percentage. Cade has also added 5 TDs on the ground, but unfortunately injured his non-throwing shoulder during his most recent game and will miss a few weeks. If DJ Uiagalelei is unable to regain his swagger, Klubnik will be nipping at his heels in a hurry.
The defensive commits have shown out the most this season. Jihaad Campbell was bumped to the #21 spot in 24/7’s most recent rankings bump and has begun to earn the “unicorn” label because of both his immense talent and ability to play so many different roles within a defense. He has dominated the majority of IMG’s games, and despite his incredible pass rush ability is also capable out in coverage. Campbell is pegged as a Defensive End prospect by Clemson, but Brent Venables obviously has had a lot of success with players who can be “multiple”.
Jaren Kanak is another standout, though lacks the lofty rankings of his classmates. Kanak has outstanding track times at his size, and reminds some of former Clemson hybrid DB Tanner Muse. Jaren plays a big role for his HS on both sides of the ball, but will likely spend the most time as an early-down Safety, and 3rd-down Linebacker.
Jaren Kanak with the highlight reel TD run vs. Great Bend. pic.twitter.com/dLQnhs2ruE— Hays HS Athletics (@HaysHighAD) September 11, 2021
If there’s one position group Clemson has hit a grand slam on this cycle it is Cornerback. Theres a real possibility the Tigers landed three 5-star caliber prospects at the position. Both Toriano Pride and Daylen Everette have especially stood out this year and earned 5-star status in the recent 24/7 update as a reward. Pride has competed in many high-level national games this season and has locked down receivers in all of them. Pride continues to look like the steal of the class and should contribute early in his Clemson career at either outside corner or nickel. Everette has been equally “lockdown” at IMG Academy this season and has Floridian analysts wondering if he deserves the “CB1” label.
Clemson DB commit Toriano Pride is off to a great start to his senior season.— Rivals (@Rivals) September 25, 2021
Check out some of his best plays from his showdown with St. John Bosco earlier this month @toriano2x | @TIinClemson | @PaulStrelowTI | @Rivals_Clint pic.twitter.com/mzkrsbp48y
As a whole, the Tigers have done an excellent job with who they have taken, and although a recruiting class will once again by light on total numbers, it should not take away from the exceptional players already in the class, nor their future impact on the program. There is a lot to be excited about already with even more talent potentially on the way.