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Clemson 2023 Recruiting and the Transfer Portal

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Clemson’s Class of 2023 is pretty much in the books. While the staff may look for another target or two between now and National Signing Day in February, it is hard to believe much will change. There just aren’t enough recruits, especially at a level Clemson needs, the Tigers to dramatically improve the roster.

But there is another option, the Transfer Portal. We know Dabo is not a fan of the portal and has said that he’s only willing to take the right fit. To date the only fit has been bringing back Hunter Johnson as cover in the QB room. Talented players who appear to be a great fit are ignored, instead unusually high numbers of scholarships are given to walk ons and Clemson has a roster that is effectively on probation.

There is an opportunity this year to add some players through the portal. Below is a breakdown of Clemson’s current roster by position, assuming all players classified as seniors leave, as well as the class of 2023 commits. Depending on the decision by Jamarius Haynes, the Tigers will have either 4 or 5 scholarships available for the 2023 roster.

Clemson Scholarship Breakdown

Position Currently on Roster Class of 2023 2023 Roster
Position Currently on Roster Class of 2023 2023 Roster
QB 2 1 3
RB 3 2 5
WR 7 3 10
TE 3 2 5
OL 11 3 14
DE 4 3 7
DT 6 3 9
LB 6 2 8
CB 5 4 9
S 5 3 8
ST 3 0 3
Total 55 26 81

As we mentioned, there are 4 scholarships available. The single biggest unknown is who, if anyone, is going to return as a senior. We’ve all seen some cryptic messages on Twitter from guys like Tyler Davis, Sheridan Jones, Xavier Thomas, and KJ Henry. References to things like Power Rangers. Anyone who does return would reduce those available scholarships. And as we see from the numbers above, be a welcome return for performance and depth.

But if those guys don’t return, those are scholarships that can be used to plug some holes via the portal. And don’t forget it isn’t unusual to see 2-3 guys depart during the spring as they learn just where they stand after Spring Practice.

Before yesterday’s news, it was safe to say the Tigers needed a QB. And it looks like Dabo is dipping into the transfer portal once again for a backup QB. Paul Tyson is coming to Clemson after graduating from Arizona State. Tyson, the great-grandson of Bear Bryant, started his career at Alabama before transferring to the Sun Devils. He was a backup, deep on the depth chart, in both spots, and will provide additional cover behind Klubnik, Vizzina, and Helms.

When it comes to where the Tigers should look to fill additional holes, the biggest spots are the OL and DL. With only 14 offensive linemen, the Tigers could easily use 1, maybe even 2, as well as some on the defensive line considering almost half of the guys on the roster will be freshmen in 2023 at DE and DT. That would easily cover all the open scholarships and set Clemson up for success.

Unfortunately, it is fair to say this is unlikely. The next transfer the Tigers take will only be the third ever under Dabo and maybe the first non-backup QB transfer. Hard to believe Clemson will get 1 more transfer, let alone 3 to 4. Instead, the more likely option is to hope we see several seniors return to use their final year of eligibility via the COVID year.