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Clemson Scholarship Breakdown and Class of 2023 Needs

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

The return of the contact period and Dabo’s willingness to change have led to a fantastic June for Clemson’s recruiting. While Tiger fans are used to these types of commitments early in the cycle, it is good to see the demise of Clemson recruiting may be the purview of blowhards and not something founded in facts.

But as always there is a lingering question, will Dabo commit to a large enough class to avoid giving out too many walk-on scholarships? And almost as important, will the Tigers recruit enough numbers at key positions to not only bring numbers up but balance experience across different classes?

Below is Clemson’s scholarship breakdown by position in 2022 as well as the number of seniors in the class. I also attempted to count any potential transfers as well as candidates for an early departure to the NFL.

Update: The below table and info has been updated to account for the 6 players who did not early enroll and will arrive this summer, the roster is now 84 players and not 78.

Clemson Scholarship Breakdown

Position 2022 Roster Seniors NFL Draft Departures Potential Transfers 2023 Commitments
Position 2022 Roster Seniors NFL Draft Departures Potential Transfers 2023 Commitments
QB 5 1 0 1 1
RB 5 0 0 0 0
WR 11 2 0 1 1
TE 4 1 0 1 2
OL 15 2 0 1 1
DT 8 1 1 0 2
DE 9 3 1 0 2
LB 9 0 1 1 2
S 7 2 0 0 1
CB 7 1 0 1 2
ST 4 1 0 0 0
Total 84 14 3 6 14

Let’s start with some overall good news. Outside of the QB room, there aren’t really any non-seniors with a scholarship who are former walk-ons. And even in the QB room, it is arguable if they are walk-ons or greyshirts. Unfortunately, the bad news is Clemson only has 78 scholarship athletes. That means we’ll see 7 walk-ons given scholarships, assuming the staff doesn’t take any transfers. The real hope here is that those 7 scholarships are given to seniors, ensuring they are available for the class of 2023. After dealing with an accounting error, it turns out the Tigers are in better shape with regard to total scholarship numbers. There are 83 players on scholarship, not 77.

QB - The QB room doesn’t look great on paper, but the reality is that if DJ and Cade Klubnik get injured the season is lost anyway. Hunter Johnson could provide some cover, but I wouldn’t expect much there. The class of 2023 has Christopher Vizzina in it, which likely means the Tigers are done at the position and have met their needs. The one thing that could upend things is if DJ loses his starting job and decides to transfer. I could see Dabo deciding to look for some depth at the position with a 3-star type QB, someone that could provide depth but likely wouldn’t win a starting job.

RB - Despite the talent and promise at running back, depth is a bit bleak. Currently, the Tigers have 4 RBs on the roster, including 2022 signee Keith Adams Jr. Right now the Tigers don’t have any RBs committed in the class of 2023 and that has to change. Ideally, Clemson would sign 2 RBs to boost the depth chart to 6 RBs, but that may not be feasible.

WR - #WRU has taken a hit recently. 2021 was pretty bad. Even accounting for injuries and DJ’s accuracy the Tigers WR corps was bad. A lot of dropped balls, poorly run routes, and nonexistent blocking. Numbers-wise the Tigers are fine with 11 WRs on scholarship. Drew Swinney and Joseph Ngata should be gone after this year which means the Tigers should bring in 1 if not 2 more WRs. The commitment and decommitment of Nathaniel Joseph tells us Dabo wants at least 2 WRs and I think we’ll see a push for more, especially with how the group did last year.

TE - Jokes aside about the position, the Tigers are in decent shape here even if they decide to use the TE to catch the ball. Two guys coming in with the class of 2023 and one guy going out gives the Tigers 5 guys at the position, more than enough here.

OL - So there are two ways to look at OL. The first is at the numbers we think the team should be at, and the other is at where Dabo thinks they should be at. Right now the Tigers have 15 OL with Jordan McFadden and Will Putnam as seniors. Only Ian Reed is committed so far which means the Tigers should bring in at least 1 more OL. Ideally, we’d see another 3 come in for a class of 4, but I’ll be surprised if that happens.

DT - We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the dire DT situation. Obviously a lot of talent on the roster, but we are super thin from a numbers perspective. There are 8 DTs and only one freshman this year. Thankfully Vic Burley just committed, but Tyler Davis leaving means we still have 8 on the roster next year. And if Bryan Breese recovers and shows out he’s likely leaving for the NFL draft. The commitment of Stephiylan Green gives the Tigers two commits this cycle, but another one, maybe even two, would be nice. That said, if Dabo is going to take 1-2 more and not take any in the class of 2024 I’d rather save them for next year to help even out the numbers.

DE - The defensive ends are in a similar state, just with another body. But the Tigers lose at least 3 after this year. Thankfully the Tigers are off to a good start with David Ojiegbe and AJ Hoffler in the class. The Tigers need at least 1, ideally 2 more guys in the class to round it out.

LB - Even with Brent Venables leaving the LB corps continues to roll along. The class of 2023 already has 2 commits to go with the 9 guys who should all be on the roster next year. The only defections would be transfers or NFL Draft departures. As always a lot of the numbers here, CB, and S depend on the skillsets of the starters and how Wes Goodwin decides to line things up. 11 LBs is more than enough here and the Tigers should be in good shape.

CB - Clemson has 7 guys on the roster with only Sheridan Jones set to depart. The good news is the rest of the players are spread out well and barring transfers should be in good shape with the recruits coming in. The Tigers will hope Avien Terrell and Brand Strozier continue the legacy of CBs here at Clemson. Outside of a reach for a true talent, I think Clemson is ok here.

S - Clemson will see Zanders and Phillips leave after this year, but Kylen Webb seems destined to slot in at safety, though we’ll see what the exact plan is for him. The Tigers could use one other safety, or maybe another CB that could become a safety, just to help boost numbers and help spread out experience.

ST - Potter is gone after this year, and while there is uncertainty over kicking duties, any changes are likely to be the result of a walk-on impressing Dabo.

So if we total all this up the Tigers are looking at another 6 or so commits just to hit needs. Currently, Clemson has 14 commits and 14 seniors departing, along with another 2 scholarships based on how short the Tigers are this year. Add in even the best number for Clemson when it comes to transfers, the NFL Draft, etc., and the Tigers can comfortably fit a class of 20 this year.

But there is room for a bigger class. We’ve identified 9 spots where we could see transfers or early departures depending on how things go. If the coaching staff is proactive and shoots for another 11 commits, the Tigers should be in good shape, but the staff could look for more than that. There are always unplanned departures and the Tigers don’t need to be caught flat-footed by some additional departures during the season. There may not be enough time to bring in additional players.

But it all depends on Dabo. We’ve seen him make changes in recruiting recently. The latest example was allowing official visits outside of the season. The question is if he’s willing to make a change and be more proactive about recruiting guys and bumping up numbers. If he doesn’t we’ll see the Tigers continue to be hamstrung by what is essentially a probation penalty.