The regular season and conference championships are complete. Clemson finished 11-2 and reclaimed the ACC Championship. There are now nearly four weeks until Clemson faces Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. The transfer portal window for players looking to leave their respective school is open from December 5th to January 18th so this week we’ll hear about a lot of names officially entering the portal. So far, we have four such names coming from Clemson. None are a major surprise.
DJ Uiagalelei is the biggest name of the group. 247 Sports is reporting he will enter the portal. Everyone has somewhat assumed this would be the case and he would find a PAC-12 team to join next season. His little brother is a top recruit and is considering Oregon. A family reunion there would make for a nice story.
DJ didn’t seem to be the ideal fit for Clemson’s scheme and failed to get in sync with a WR room that often had struggles of their own. After a very strong first seven games to the season, his last six were sub-par resulting in Cade Klubnik taking the starting job from him mid-way through the ACC Championship game. Despite his on-field shortcomings, he is lauded as an amazing teammate. His post-game interview following the win over UNC was outstanding and I recommend you check it out:
Additionally, fourth-string QB Billy Wiles has entered the portal. He was a former walk-on who earned a scholarship.
Cornerback Fred Davis III is also entering the transfer portal. He was a very highly rated prospect out of Florida, but struggled on the field and had off-field issues. He had the lowest PFF grade of Clemson CBs, but still has untapped potential and two years of eligibility remaining.
I’m officially entering the transfer portal on Dec 5th. pic.twitter.com/IFf9PJtyDA— FD2 (@__FredDavis) December 4, 2022
Perhaps the most interesting name to enter the portal from Clemson so far is EJ Williams. He was a highly-rated prospect from the same Phenix City high school as Justyn Ross. He was the No. 3 recruit in the state of Alabama. He had 306 yards on 24 catches as a true freshman, but struggled with injuries as a sophomore and then struggled with his performance this year. He had the lowest PFF grade of all Clemson wide receivers. We saw his potential as a freshman, but a change of scenery is probably the best for everyone. Because his freshman year was the COVID season, he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
With these scholarships opening up, the Tigers could consider adding a transfer to boost their wide receiver room. In the days before the ACC Championship game, the coaching staff pointed to drops and other issues as bigger reasons for Clemson’s Palmetto Bowl loss than QB play. Even after the QB swap in the ACC Championship Game, Coach Swinney declined to say he regretted not making the change a week earlier and said QB play wasn’t the reason they lost the week prior. As such, improving the WR room is potentially an imperative for the staff. If so, there are quite a few options in the portal Clemson could consider:
Dominic Lovett (WR - Missouri): 5-foot-10, 846 receiving yards, 83.7 PFF grade (#1 in SEC), 3 years of eligibility remaining
Drae McRay (WR - Austin Peay): 5-foot-9, 1,021 yards, 82.3 PFF grade (higher than all Clemson WRs), reported offers from Oregon and Louisville, 2 yrs of eligibility remaining
Ali Jennings III (WR - Old Dominion): 6-foot-2, 959 yards, 81.6 PFF grade (higher than all Clemson WRs), 1 yr of eligibility remaining
MJ Wright (WR - Fordham): 6-foot-0, 1,151 yards, 76.8 PFF grade (higher than all Clemson WRs), reported offers from Utah State and Ball State, 1 yr of eligibility remaining
Grant Dubose (WR - Charlotte): 6-foot-3, 792 yards, 70.3 PFF grade (higher than all Clemson WRs), 1 yr of eligibility remaining
Dont’e Thornton (WR - Oregon): 6-foot-5, 366 yards, 366 yards, 65.7 PFF grade, 2 yrs of eligibility remaining
Theo Wease (WR - Oklahoma): 6-foot-3, 378 yards, 64.7 PFF grade, 2 yrs of eligibility remaining
Lovett was one of the best wide receivers in the SEC. He is from St. Louis so pulling him to Clemson is far from a given, but could be somebody worth targeting if NIL isn’t solely driving his decision making. McRay is from Florida and I somewhat expect him to return to his home state, but so far Oregon and Louisville are his reported offers. He posted over 1,000 yards and had a sterling PFF grade.
Ali Jennings III, MJ Wright, and Grant Dubose are all interesting options because they only have one year of eligibility left. This seems to be ideal for Coach Swinney as he doesn’t want to use transfers to take spots away from recruited players, but instead fill gaps for a year. These players may fit that bill nicely and all three posted PFF grades higher than all of Clemson’s wide receivers.
This offseason promises to be an interesting one.