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Clemson Adds 12 to Class of 2022 to Start Early Signing Period

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Dabo Swinney has signed a strong class despite late turbulence

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Another signing day will soon be history, and Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers have landed 12 talented prospects at the conclusion of the first day of the Early Signing Period. For a long time it looked like the hard work for Clemson’s 2022 class had already been completed over the spring and summer. The Tigers were cruising to another top 10, possibly top 5 recruiting class while also having a top 3 average in ranking per recruit. However, things got significantly more complicated when Lincoln Riley decided to move to USC, a decision that sent ripple effects across the country.

These waves were felt all the way down to Clemson, when the mercurial Brent Venables left his perch as the long-time Tiger defensive coordinator to go take up the head mantle in Norman, OK. Of course after someone so important leaves the program, closing out the recruiting class was suddenly much more difficult. The usually steady model of Clemson recruiting became rife with a turbulence that has led to the loss of 3 highly-rated recruits, all hailing from IMG Academy.

These losses were quite unfortunate for Clemson, as LB Jihaad Campbell and Cornerback Daylen Everette had blossomed into potential 5-star talents since committing to the Tigers over the summer. Everette has since committed to Georgia, and Campbell will likely join him in the SEC as the trend of IMG prospects to that conference can only be expected to become more prevalent.

Clemson Class of 2022

Player Position Location Height Weight Star Ranking Rating Primary Recruiter Secondary Recruiter Position Rank
Player Position Location Height Weight Star Ranking Rating Primary Recruiter Secondary Recruiter Position Rank
Cade Klubnik QB Austin, TX 6'2" 186 5 0.9901 Brandon Streeter 1
Jeadyn Lukus CB Mauldin, SC 6'2" 185 4 0.9815 Mike Reed Brent Venables 7
Toriano Pride CB East St. Louis, IL 5'11" 185 4 0.9677 Mike Reed Brent Venables 9
Adam Randall WR Myrtle Beach, SC 6'3" 215 4 0.9507 Tyler Grisham 17
Antonio Williams WR Irmo, SC 6'0" 180 4 0.9444 Tyler Grisham 21
Collin Sadler OL Greenville, SC 6'5" 285 4 0.944 Robbie Caldwell 13
Sherrod Covil S Chesapeake, VA 6'0" 185 4 0.9286 Mickey Conn Brent Venables 13
Blake Miller OL Strongsville, OH 6'6" 315 4 0.9211 Robbie Caldwell 17
Jaren Kanak LB Hays, KS 6'2" 210 4 0.9069 Brent Venables 10
Wade Woodaz S Tampa, FL 6'3" 205 3 0.8688 57
Josh Sapp TE Greenville, SC 6'2" 230 3 0.8431 Tony Elliott 81
Robert Gunn K Largo, FL 6'2" 165 3 0.8054 11
Jackson Smith P Saraland, AL 6'5" 227 0 0

Tough losses or not, the class certainly doesn’t lack elite talent at key positions. This starts with the Quarterback position, where many in the industry would argue that the Tigers have landed the top prospect at the position in 5-star Cade Klubnik. Cade has directed a Westlake Football team to an unbeaten record, a nearly 40-game win streak, a #2 ranking nationally, and will seek to add a third consecutive state championship in short order. Recruiting services have done nothing but raise his ranking since the Spring and he continues to improve in every setting from both a physical and mental standpoint. I absolutely expect him to challenge for the starting job next season, and he will provide a very different skill set than what the current QB room possesses.

Cade is the ringleader for an Offensive class that is made up nearly entirely of blue chip talents. He’ll be throwing passes to in-state 4-stars Adam Randall and Antonio Williams. Randall has the body type many Clemson fans are accustomed to at Wide Reciever. Big, Strong, and athletic, Randall has as much upside as any Clemson WR commit in years. As he’s grown into his frame and become more coordinated, his production has continued to increase. Randall also recently ran a 4.45 laser-timed 40-yard dash. Antonio Williams is his running mate, possessing a skill set the WR room has been lacking for multiple seasons with his slot-like build. Clemson beat out South Carolina for Williams’ signature despite waiting deep into the cycle to elevate their courtship. Josh Sapp is the Tigers’ TE take in this class, and another player hailing from the Palmetto state. Clemson missed on its top TE offers in this class, but Sapp is not a bad fallback option and has had a strong Senior season.

Both Offensive Line takes are of the blue chip variety as well. Robbie Caldwell and Thomas Austin were able to go right up the road for the first of two takes with Collin Sadler. Sadler looks massive, has had a great senior season, and is the SEC OL body-type Clemson could use more of. He pairs with Blake Miller, who has also had a great senior season up in Ohio. Both Sadler and Miller could wind up at either Tackle or Guard, and will likely cross-train at both positions.

Before Brent Venables departed the defensive class was likely the best in the country on a pound for pound basis. After the departure it can probably no longer make that claim given the lack of defensive lineman in the class (Campbell was previously the only one), but if there was one theme from the players remaining it would be athleticism. The 5 defenders remaining will all have significant roles in defending the backend, and there are some very intriguing skillsets being added to a defense that will have to find a new identity next season under Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn.

Had the 2022 class held on to Everette it likely would’ve had the most impressive cornerback class of any program in recent memory. The consolation prize does not suck either, with recent 5-star riser Toriano Pride, and 4-star Greenville native Jeadyn Lukus. Pride was the first commit to come out and reaffirm his status with Clemson after the departure of Brent Venables, and has had an exceptional final 23 of the recruiting calendar. Arguably the best cover corner in the class, and he’s proved it against elite competition consistently this season. Lukus is no slouch either, standing over 6’2” with longs arms and incredible athleticism. He impressed in a big way at a Rivals camp before this summer, most notably for his leaping ability. Clemson has never landed two cornerbacks in one class with this much ability, and given the impending departures of Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth, Pride and Lukus should be both see playing time next season.

One of the most intriguing commits in the class is Jaren Kanak. As of right now he is not signing his LOI, but his final decision is unknown. If he decides to decommit the most likely destination is Oklahoma. But in case he does sign with Clemson, Kanak is another phenomenal athlete that plays all over the place for his high dchool program. He is a unique body type perfect for the “multiple” defenders Venables used so effectively. Kanak leans more towards a linebacker body rather than a defensive back, but is a fairly comparable prospect to Tanner Muse.

Wade Woodasz was a late addition to the class and fits a similar mold as Kanak, and will also likely prove to be a strong contributor during his time at Clemson. Woodasz is actually a phenomenal athlete, and demonstrates a high level of functional athleticism on film.

Finally, Clemson added commitments from kicker Robert Gunn, and punter Jackson Smith to shore up special teams for upcoming seasons.

Despite the late decommitments, Clemson still signed a class with a high average rating per recruit that would sit 5th nationally as of today. It is smaller than many fans would prefer, however, it still addresses many of the teams’ current needs as well, namely providing competition for quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, and revamping a secondary that will lose many pieces this off-season.

Ideally, one would like to see another offensive lineman, multiple defensive lineman, and perhaps another linebacker still added to the class before the final signing period in February, a class with just 12 commitments in the current era of college football with the transfer portal is simply an unsustainable model. Dabo recently mentioned he wanted to sign 20, however, that was before the recent decommitments so it remains to be seen how this class can get to 17, let alone 20 at this point.

The players they have landed are all of extremely high quality, with nearly all of the commitments experiencing significant ratings increases. Although there was late volatility to close out the class, there’s still plenty of talent heading to Tigertown this cycle, and how Clemson closes this class will be important to ensure the program does not have too much work to do in the portal over the off-season.