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Tigers Make Final Push For Recruits

Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:04am
  • Durham (N.C.) Hillside WR Trevion Thompson (ACCSports.com/Paul Strelow)
     Durham (N.C.) Hillside WR Trevion Thompson (ACCSports.com/Paul Strelow)
By: Clemson Insider

CLEMSON – Less than a handful of names are still out there as football recruiting targets for this class as Clemson has three grayshirt commitments hopes to squeeze in this cycle, as well.

Look for the Tigers to try to close by adding at least one defensive end and perhaps another receiver into the fold.

While Greensboro (N.C.) Page end Lorenzo Featherston had expressed the desire to commit at the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla., both of his finalists – FSU and Clemson – were caught off-guard by the actual announcement. Furthermore, before losing out to the Seminoles, Clemson was led to believe behind-the-scenes that it was the frontrunner.

Clemson’s primary target for the position continues to be McDonough (Ga.) ELCA’s Andrew Williams. Momentum is clearly in Auburn’s favor, though, and those two are battling for official visit dates. Williams will visit one Jan. 16 and the other Jan. 30, the final official visit weekend.

Clemson’s major recruiting weekend – wherein all its remaining commitments and several of its lingering targets will use their official visit – is Jan. 16.

That is the weekend the Tigers will entertain Durham (N.C.) Hillside receiver Trevion Thompson as well. N.C. State has made up significant ground with Thompson, but current sentiment says that Clemson holds the cards if it elects to push hard for him.

Coleman’s Departure Opens Spot

Clemson redshirt sophomore guard Devin Coleman’s mid-year transfer probably didn’t register much of a blip on the figurative ACC transactions wire. But it figures to have an impact on the Tigers’ short-term fortunes while certainly factoring into the recruiting plan.

Coleman averaged 5.4 points per game through Clemson’s opening 10 contests and mustered one start, but that hardly told the story of his departure.

The 6-2 Philadelphia product barely played as a freshman in 2011-12 before averaging 6.8 points the last eight games, creating hope that his scoring ability would be an asset the next season for a lineup devoid of perimeter shooting or someone who could create a good look.

Then Coleman tore an Achilles tendon in the summer and missed last season.

Upon his return, Coleman found it difficult to earn a consistent rotation role. Brad Brownell prioritizes defensive ability and effort above all things, leading Coleman to be the odd-man out in a backcourt including Rod Hall, Jordan Roper, Adonis Filer and Damarcus Harrison.

Coleman produced in the three games in which he logged double-digit minutes, scoring 16 and 14 in consecutive December appearances against Coastal Carolina and South Carolina State, respectively. Two games later, he chucked in 12 points in 13 minutes against Furman.

Yet after those first two in-state contests, he netted a mere eight minutes in Clemson’s next contest against Arkansas and just two in the Auburn game after Furman – both contests the Tigers lost and perhaps could have used his scoring.

Roper, a scorer in a lithe point guard’s body, has evenly split time with Harrison, both registering 20 minutes per game apiece. But they have shot 42 and 34 percent, respectively, to Coleman’s 46 percent. Coleman was also hitting 42.9 percent of his three-pointers, second-best on the team.

Coleman might have been giving up as much as he was making. But for a team that can find it difficult to manufacture a bucket in a grinding halfcourt game, he could have provided value in ACC play when the Tigers needed a bucket in late-game circumstances. Five of their 14 conference defeats a year ago came by five points or less.

Big picture, Coleman’s departure will clear half the room needed for Clemson to bring in its 2014 signing class.

The Tigers entered the season with the NCAA-maximum 13 scholarship players – but none were seniors, meaning they would not have an available scholarship to add a recruit if everyone with eligibility returned.

Nonetheless, with pressure mounting on Brownell to display improvement after consecutive years of decline, Clemson made moves late this fall to lock up perhaps Brownell’s most acclaimed class to date.

After its summer camp, Clemson took Shelby (N.C.) combo guard Gabe DeVoe, who has exploded to average more than 33 points per game this season.

Then, despite their overage, the Tigers stuck with and ultimately beat NCAA runner-up Michigan for Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy’s Donte Grantham, a top-100 swing forward who is the highest-ranked signee of Brownell’s tenure (and third-highest since 2000, behind 2009 signees Milton Jennings and Noel Johnson).

Thus plenty of speculation has surfaced as to which two Clemson roster players would not return in order for space to come open.

Clemson’s coaching staff invariably took the position of waiting to see how things sorted out over the course of the season.

Coleman, though, was not among the two candidates most often cited as projected collateral damage.

It does appear apropos of Brownell’s early recruiting struggles, though, that Coleman marks the third member of his first true recruiting class (2012) to have already departed, joining undersized forward Bernard Sullivan (Charlotte) and guard T.J. Sapp (Murray State). Only Hall and standout forward K.J. McDaniels remain.

Morris, Watson Stay True

For two years, many Clemson fans have reluctantly anticipated offensive coordinator Chad Morris leaving for a head coaching vacancy – while also expecting the worst in regards to whether five-star quarterback recruit Deshaun Watson would fall off the commitment board as a result.

Well, there was a lot of angst over nothing.

Watson was to join Clemson’s other early enrollees in reporting to campus for the start of classes on Jan. 8, and there was no further drama in his recruitment after a May visit to Auburn came to light.

Meanwhile, the two scenarios most likely to lure Morris out the door this postseason did not materialize.

It’s no secret Morris covets a job in his native Texas, where he forged his career as a high school coach. There is sentiment he spends so much time still recruiting there merely as a means of keeping his relationships fresh and profile front-and-center for his next job.

All eyes fell on whether SMU would fire June Jones. Morris would have represented a coup for the Mustangs, set Morris up as the next-in-line for if/when Kevin Sumlin leaves Morris’ alma mater (Texas A&M), plus SMU would have no problem trumping Morris’ $1.3 million coordinator salary.

But SMU surprised many by giving Jones a three-year extension Dec. 23 after his 5-8 season.

The less likely scenario had Morris emerging as a candidate at Baylor should Art Briles succeed Mack Brown at Texas. But Briles removed his name from the Texas hat Jan. 3 by likewise agreeing to a raise and contract extension.

Morris wants to be a head coach. When and where it happens will depend on the bar he sets for the opportunity.