** UPDATE: Morgan Thomas has updated his roster breakdown and this article has been edited to include and account for the changes. **
For years, loyal readers of this site have heard Quacking Tiger, myself, and other writers bemoan Clemson’s underutilization of the 85 scholarship limit. Clemson has often been overly stingy with offers and taken smaller recruiting classes than needed to ensure they wouldn’t go over the 85 scholarship. Time and time again, they’d then have several players transfer out right after signing day or in the spring. That routinely left Clemson with unused scholarships which they would give to walk-ons.
We’ve begged and pleaded for this practice to change. We’ve been told to give up and stop beating a dead horse! It now appears things are changing.
Although we’re disappointed with Clemson’s 3-3 finish to this season and worried about some of the hesitance they’re showing around NIL and the transfer portal, it is only right that we pause and celebrate a notable change to roster management. Clemson brought in a big recruiting class (27 including QB Paul Tyson). As you can see in Morgan Thomas’s breakdown below, Clemson is at 87 scholarships.
In his spreadsheet, he counts a scholarship for former walk-on RB Dominque Thomas. Since former walk-ons are not guaranteed scholarship renewal, that drops Clemson to 86 allotted scholarships with none going to former walk-ons or “five-heart” recruits.
WR Joe Ngata is not counted and would push the count to 87 if he uses his COVID waiver and returns to Clemson. Ngata recently accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl which may mean he is on the way out, but we also saw Ruke Orhorhoro accept a Senior Bowl invite before deciding to back out and return to Clemson instead.
LB Keith Maguire is leaving Clemson football, but Morgan Thomas already excluded him from his spreadsheet so that does not impact the numbers.
Clemson junior LB Keith Maguire posted: "Been one hell of a ride. Thank you Clemson for the time of my life" on Instagram this evening.— Matt Connolly (@MattOnClemson) January 3, 2023
Expecting him to move on from football. He's not in the portal. Played in all 14 games, finished with 38 tackles https://t.co/C1q5vAvtMe pic.twitter.com/B3D0jgxTGV
More attrition will come between now and the Fall semester when Clemson needs to be at the proper scholarship count. Perhaps WR Will Taylor will decide to focus on baseball or an upperclassmen who has been passed by a younger player will leave. Regardless of how it shakes it, we’re seeing Coach Swinney be much more aggressive with his scholarships and planning for that inevitable attrition rather hoping to avoid it.
We’d still love to see Clemson use NIL more aggressively to land immediate impact players like Florida State did this offseason by adding OL Jeremiah Byers from UTEP, TE Jaheim Bell from South Carolina, CB Fentrell Cypress II from Virginia, and Braden Fiske from Western Michigan. Clemson will rely on 38 true a redshirt freshmen while their chief ACC rival instead is opting to bring in veterans from other teams. That could be a disadvantage.
Nevertheless, bringing in extra high school recruits to plan for attrition and build more depth is a big improvement in roster management and deserves our applause. Kudos Clemson!