Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:04am
Here's an inside look at Clemson's 2014 recruiting class.
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
Total Number of Expected Signees: 20
National Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals.com: No. 22 (2002), No. 67 (2003), No. 53 (2004), No. 17 (2005), No. 15 (2006), No. 16 (2007), No. 12 (2008) under Tommy Bowden; No. 37 (2009), No. 19 (2010), No. 8 (2011), No. 14 (2012), No. 14 (2013) under Dabo Swinney
Scout.com: No. 28 (2002), No. 43 (2003), No. 40 (2004), No. 21 (2005), No. 22 (2006), No. 23 (2007), No. 11 (2008) under Tommy Bowden; No. 42 (2009), No. 23 (2010), No. 12 (2011), No. 17 (2012), No. 12 (2013) under Dabo Swinney
247Sports.com: No. 11 (2011), No. 23 (2012), No. 15 (2013) under Dabo Swinney
ACC Rankings (Rivals.com): No. 3 (2002), No. 8 (2003), No. 7 (2004), No. 5 (2005), No. 3 (2006), No. 1 (2007), No. 3 (2008), No. 7 (2009), No. 3(2010), No. 2 (2011), No. 3 (2012), No. 2 (2013)
2014 Clemson ACC & National Rankings By Network:
ESPN: No. 3 ACC, No. 12 overall nationally
Rivals.com: No. 3 ACC, No. 13 overall nationally
Scout.com: No. 4 ACC, No. 28 overall nationally
247Sports.com: No. 4 ACC, No. 24 overall nationally
Signee Breakdown by Star Rating:
Rivals.com: Five Stars (1), Four Stars (7), Three Stars (10), Two Stars (0)
Scout.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (8), Three Stars (12), Two Stars (2)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (8), Three Stars (10), Two Stars (2)
States Represented (6): South Carolina (8), Georgia (6), North Carolina (4), Florida (1), Maryland (1)
NOTE: Georgia native Kyrin Priester, a 6-1, 205-pound wide receiver, signed with Clemson out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy and enrolled in January
NOTE: Kicker Alex Spence will be an invited walk-on this fall and will on scholarship next January. Thus he will not sign a national letter of intent this week and is no longer listed in our breakdowns.
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees: Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester, Chris Register, Artavis Scott, Deshaun Watson
Unconfirmed Academics: Jefferie Gibson, Jabril Robinson
Breakdown by Position: Wide Receivers (4), Linebackers (4), Running Backs (2), Defensive Backs (2), Offensive Linemen (2), Tight Ends (2), Defensive Linemen (1), Quarterbacks (1), Kickers (1)
With Clemson facing the losses of offensive catalysts Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins heading into the 2014 season, it was essential for the Tigers to bring in comparable talent in this high school class that could come and provide an early spark if they’re to have legitimate aspirations of returning to the Orange Bowl soon. Mission accomplished courtesy of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who got it done by going to Georgia and bringing in arguably the top quarterback in the nation in Deshaun Watson (Gainesville High School), and one of the nation’s best wideouts in Demarre Kitt - Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone (Ga.) . Rivals.com has Watson ranked the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, while 247Sports.com has him ranked the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and Scout.com has Watson ranked the No. 3 overall signal-caller in America. Both Watson and Kitt arrived at Clemson for the spring semester and don’t be surprised if they’re in the offensive lineup right out of the gate in 2014. Morris was also instrumental for Clemson landing a trio of in-state pledges---Easley (S.C.) cornerback C.J. Fuller, Belton (S.C.) linebacker Kendall Joseph, and Central (S.C.) running back Jae’lon Oglesby.
10 Key Misses
Hinesville (Ga.) linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State), Gallatin (Tenn.) wide receiver Josh Malone (Tennessee), McCalla (Ala.) defensive end Cory Thomas (Tennessee), Greensboro (N.C.) defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Florida State), Bamberg (S.C.) tight end Kevin Crosby (South Carolina), Columbia (S.C.) linebacker Christian Miller (Alabama), Saluda (S.C.) defensive tackle Dexter Wideman (Florida State), Woodruff (S.C.) wide receiver Blake Bone (Kentucky), Latta (S.C.) offensive lineman Donell Stanley (South Carolina), Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher (Florida)
Clemson Recruiting Storylines
- Now that Dabo Swinney has things rolling at Clemson and he’s not looking to restock the program as much as reload each recruiting cycle, the Tigers aren’t having to take larger classe, like they did earlier in his tenure. 2014 marks the third straight recruiting cycle for Clemson in which the Tigers aren’t taking a full class. Last year they took 23 prospects and in 2012 the Tigers signed just 20 signees, the smallest Clemson football signing class since 2009, when the Tigers signed only 12 prospects in Swinney’s first class as the head coach at Clemson. The Tigers signed a total of 53 prospects in 2010 and 2011, including over-signing with 29 in the 2011 class. Many of those players helped comprise the core of Clemson’s recent Orange Bowl teams, and they’re the ones this year’s class will be asked to replace in the coming years.
- The Tigers appear to be shifting some recruiting focus and resources from the state of South Carolina to Georgia. Clemson has traditionally owned the Palmetto State along with in-state arch-rival South Carolina, while Georgia is usually up for grabs between the top programs in both the ACC and SEC. This year Clemson is signing six Georgia natives, the most from the Peach State for the Tigers since they also signed six in the 2010 class. This year the Tigers went head-to-head with Georgia and several other SEC powers for the likes of Deshaun Watson, Demarre Kitt, Korie Rogers, and multiple others and came out on the winning end. Clemson has now signed 11 Georgia natives in the last two classes alone, which is more than any other ACC school aside from in-state Georgia Tech. In turn, the Tigers aren’t getting as many prospects at home in South Carolina, as this year’s seven Palmetto State commitments is only topped by last year’s five in-state Clemson pledges as the fewest for the program going back over the last eight recruiting classes. Clemson signed 10 or more South Carolina natives in four out of six classes between 2007 and 2012, but now have gone two straight classes with seven or less.
- If there’s an ACC-caliber prospect at D.W. Daniel High School in Central, located a couple miles from Clemson, rest assured the Tigers are going to have an excellent chance of signing them. And there’s a good chance that player is going to make an impact for the Tigers and then having a shot at going on to play professionally. After signing linebacker D.J. Greenlee, the son of longtime Tigers strength and conditioning coach Larry Greenlee, in the 2013 class, this year Clemson is signing Jae’lon Oglesby, a 5-11, 175-pound all-purpose back listed in the Rivals 250 (No. 178 overall nationally). Oglesby is the sixth Daniel High standout to sign with the Tigers since 2007, joining D.J. Greenlee, defensive end Shaq Lawson, defensive tackle DeShaun Williams, running back DeAndre Hopkins, and defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Lawson was an immediate-impact rookie for the Tigers in 2013 who will head into the 2014 season as an All-ACC candidate at defensive end, while Williams will likely play beside him at defensive tackle as a senior for the Tigers. Jenkins and Hopkins have moved on to the NFL. Oglesby ran for 2,176 yards and 21 touchdowns for Daniel High in 2013, leading the Lions to the school’s first state championship game berth since 1998.
- Clemson has brought in numerous legacy recruits over the years - tying new generations of Tiger gridiron talents with those who came before them - and the school is welcoming in a tight end commitment in the 2014 class with ties to the most glorious season in the program’s history. Last July the Tigers got a commitment from tight end Cannon Smith out of Columbia’s Hammond School. Smith’s father, Bill Smith, is a member of Clemson’s Board of Trustees and served as a defensive end on Clemson’s 1981 undefeated national championship squad. The 6-5, 235-pounder also has an older sister, Kaki Smith, who attends Clemson.
A Closer Look At ...
Adam Choice, RB (5-9, 190) Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 109 overall nationally, No. 10 running back, No. 9 in Georgia)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 35 running back, No. 38 in Georgia)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 28 athlete, No. 28 in Georgia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Danny Pearman, Tony Elliott
---Choice, who was a dual-threat quarterback in high school but is projected as a running back by the Tiger coaches, became Thomas County High’s all-time leading rusher in 2013, surpassing his cousin and former Georgia Tech rusher Joe Burns. Choice totaled over 3,100 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns over his final two prep seasons, leading Thomas County High to a 17-7 combined record in 2012 and 2013 and a pair of Georgia Class 5A state playoff appearances. Choice is a cousin of former Georgia Tech running back standout and current Indianapolis Colt Tashard Choice. “Choice is an outstanding athlete who stars in both football and baseball on the high school level. He plays quarterback for his team, but he will be a running back in college. He is a very strong runner that runs with good balance and low to the ground. He can bounce off would-be tacklers and he can also make quick cuts against the grain. He is explosive when he hits the hole and he can catch the ball as well,” said Scout.com national analyst Chad Simmons.
Deshaun Watson, QB (6-3, 190) Gainesville (Ga.) Gainesville
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 31 overall nationally, No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, No. 2 in Georgia)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 84 overall nationally, No. 3 quarterback, No. 2 in Georgia)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 81 overall nationally, No. 2 dual-threat quarterback, No. 6 in Georgia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Chad Morris
---Watson has a golden opportunity to be the heir apparent to Tahj Boyd, as he arrives at Clemson this spring fully intending to compete right away for the vacant starting quarterback job. A lot of people think Watson has the goods to play right away at Clemson after completing a high school career at Gainesville High School that was nothing short of legendary. Over four years as the school’s starting quarterback, Watson threw for 13,077 yards and 155 touchdowns, completing over 64 percent of his passes. He added over 4,000 combined rushing yards over his prep career, including his junior season in which he ran for 1,441 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. The Red Elephants went a combined 46-10 on the gridiron during Watson’s four years at the school, including four state playoff appearances, two state semifinal appearances, and his junior season of 2012, which produced a 12-3 record and the Georgia Class 5-A state championship. Watson produced over 5,400 all-purpose yards in the 2012 state championship season. Rivals.com has him ranked a five-star prospect. He participated in the second annual Rivals Five Star Challenge at Chicago’s Soldier Field last June, and was selected to play in the Under Armour All-American Game. “He's a sponge,” said former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer after working with Watson at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Beaverton (Ore.) in June 2013. “He embraces the journey of getting better. Deshaun will be able to thrive early (in college) even if he doesn't know what's going on because of his stature and athleticism. If I had to pick a guy that is most college ready (out of all the Elite 11 quarterbacks), it would be him, for that reason."
Artavis Scott, WR (6-0, 175) Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 68 overall nationally , No. 9 wide receiver, No. 9 in Florida)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 102 overall nationally, No. 19 wide receiver, No. 27 in Florida)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 89 overall nationally, No. 13 wide receiver, No. 13 in Florida)
Lead Recruiter(s): Jeff Scott
---A top 100 player in the Rivals.com and 247Sports.com rankings and a four-star by all three major networks, Scott comes to Clemson along with Demarre Kitt this spring looking to fill the gap left behind by NFL-bound playmaker Sammy Watkins. Scott was one of the more productive wide receivers in the state of Florida throughout his prep career at East Lake High School. Over four seasons as a varsity contributor Scott piled up over 3,000 receiving yards - including a single-season best of 1,158 yards his sophomore season of 2011 - and approximately 980 rushing yards. He had 46 career touchdowns in high school, including 32 receiving scores. “Scott has lots of speed, and he uses it. The four-star is not only exceptionally fast, but he has soft hands and catches a lot of passes. Scott cannot be defended one-on-one. There needs to be help over the top, because if there isn't he has the athleticism and speed to get open,” said Rivals.com after evaluating Scott at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge at Soldier Field last June. In addition to his Rivals Challenge selection, Scott was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio (Tex.) after his senior season.
Why They Chose Clemson:
It's the best fit for me. It's a small town like where I come from. They have a crazy football atmosphere. I love the coaches. They can not only help me become a better player but also a better person. When I leave this university I know I will be successful. (The Tiger coaches) feel I can be the face of the defense at Clemson.
---Buford (Ga.) linebacker Korie Rogers to TigerIllustrated.com
It came down to the coaching staff, the offense and the family atmosphere there on campus. I love that system and they are going to utilize me well and what I do. They come so close. Each year they take another step. They are knocking on the door and pretty soon they are going to bust it down.
---Savannah (Ga.) tight end Milan Richard to Scout.com
I just like the love I get from Clemson. They like me. Clemson has a small campus that's not too big. I like the coaches. They are family-oriented. They make me feel at home. (I) felt comfortable there and at home.
---Williston (S.C.) offensive lineman Taylor Hearn to TigerIllustrated.com
I love the place. I feel like I fit in there. They’re very family-oriented. I’ve built a great relationship with Mike Reed, who was at N.C. State before. And coach Robbie Caldwell, I’ve built a great relationship with him. The campus, you can walk around the whole campus in eight minutes. It’s a small campus. That’s what I like about it. You don’t have to drive everywhere. You can ride a bike or something. I know with Korie (Rogers) and me, and the middle linebacker they got last year (Ben Boulware), the sky’s the limit at linebacker.
---Greensboro (N.C.) linebacker Chris Register to CUTigers.com