Clemson Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets
As the 2014 recruiting cycle enters its homestretch, Clemson’s class of 2014 is in solid shape. The Tigers’ staff, led by coach Dabo Swinney and recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott, has 19 verbal commitments.
Due to a small senior class (11 scholarship seniors), Clemson is not expected to sign a full 25-member class on Feb. 6. However, those who are committed are highly regarded. 247Sports ranks Clemson’s class 16th-best nationally, and the Tigers are still in the mix for a number of talented players who will put pen to paper and fax in their pledges on national signing day.
It should be an interesting final three weeks of the 2014 cycle, and everything you need to keep up is right here.
*All stats via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
Clemson lost out on a 5-star recruit when Hinesville, Ga., middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan chose Ohio State over the Tigers and Alabama on Dec. 13. Considered among the nation’s top-five middle linebacker recruits, he would have been an excellent fit in the middle of Clemson’s defense and a solid replacement for starter Stephone Anthony, a former 5-star recruit.
The Tigers still have four linebacker commitments in their class of 2014.
Jan. 1: Update: Defensive end target Lorenzo Featherston has committed to Florida State, according to 247Sports. Featherston chose FSU over Clemson and Florida.
Defensive end target Richard Yeargin III tells Palmetto Sports that he will honor his commitment to Notre Dame. Yeargin III took an official visit to Clemson in November.
Jan. 10: Update: Three-star defensive tackle prospect Cory Thomas of McCalla, Ala., tells Scout.com that he will visit Clemson and Mississippi State as well as Tennessee this month. Thomas is a Tennessee verbal commitment but wants to visit the other two schools as well.
Jan. 15: Update: Defensive back target D.J. Smith has committed to South Carolina, according to 247Sports.
Jan. 19: 4-star receiver target Trevion Thompson of Durham, N.C., has committed to Clemson, according to 247Sports. Thompson visited Clemson this past weekend and chose the Tigers over N.C. State, North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio State.
Jan. 24: 247Sports reports that Yeargin has decommitted from Notre Dame. Clemson is expected to be a strong contender for Yeargin now that he is back on the market.
DeShaun Watson, 6’3”, 200 pounds, Gainesville HS, Gainesville, Ga.
2012 stats: 4,024 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions. 1,441 rushing yards, 24 touchdowns.
Watson was the first member of the class of 2014, committing on national signing day 2012 as a sophomore. He hasn’t wavered and has been a cornerstone of the class. He is rated by 247Sports as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and is considered the nation’s No. 45 overall recruit. He can run and pass and is considered a solid heir to graduating senior Tajh Boyd, who holds 58 Clemson and ACC single-game, single-season and career records.
Watson has enrolled at Clemson and will go through spring practice with the Tigers, taking part in a three-way battle to replace Boyd with rising senior Cole Stoudt and rising sophomore Chad Kelly. He suffered a sprained MCL late in the season, but it will not require surgery, only four to six weeks of rest and rehab.
Adam Choice , 5’9”, 206 pounds, Thomas County Central HS, Thomasville, Ga.
2012 stats: 1,658 rushing yards, 23 touchdowns.
Jae'lon Oglesby, 6’0”, 175 pounds, D.W. Daniel HS, Central, S.C.
2013 stats: 1,511 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns. 26 receptions, 315 yards, four touchdowns.
Clemson’s backfield was a bit thin at times this fall, and leading rusher Rod McDowell is graduating, leaving rising senior D.J. Howard, rising junior Zac Brooks and redshirting freshmen Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman to battle it out for playing time. Both Choice and Oglesby should be able to join the mix. Choice is rated by 247Sports as the No. 20 athlete prospect, while Oglesby is the nation’s No. 10 all-purpose back prospect.
Both have excellent speed and can contribute in a variety of ways. Oglesby split time this fall as a wide receiver and tailback for D.W. Daniel, South Carolina’s Class 3A runner-up, but he projects more as a tailback in college. Choice played quarterback this fall for Thomas County Central but is still was one of the top-five rushers in the state of Georgia.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Artavis Scott, 5’10”, 175 pounds, East Lake H.S., Tarpon Springs, Fla.
2012 stats: 64 receptions, 995 yards, 10 touchdowns.
Demarre Kitt, 6’1”, 182 pounds, Sandy Creek H.S., Tyrone, Ga.
2012 stats: 74 receptions, 1,235 yards, 12 touchdowns.
Milan Richard, 6’2”, 232 pounds, Calvary Day School, Savannah, Ga.
Kyrin Priester, 6’2”, 185 pounds, Fork Union Military Academy, Fork Union, Va.
Trevion Thompson, 6’3”, 188 pounds, Hillside H.S., Durham, N.C.
With junior standouts Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant considering NFL jumps and fellow junior Adam Humphries entering his senior season, Clemson needed wide receivers in this class, and it got them.
Scott, Kitt, Priester and Thompson are all 4-star prospects who could make immediate impacts next fall beside Humphries, Charone Peake (returning from a torn ACL) and rising sophomores like Mike Williams, Germone Hopper and T.J. Green. All three signees have enrolled at Clemson already and will go through spring practice with their new teammates.
All four are athletic pass-catchers with solid speed. Given Scott’s propensity to give young players a chance, you could see several of them in the receiver rotation this fall.
Richard adds to an already-loaded tight end depth chart for Clemson and is just what Chad Morris likes in his offense: an athletic pass-catcher.
OT Cannon Smith, 6’5”, 235 pounds, Hammond School, Columbia, S.C.
OT Taylor Hearn, 6’5”, 305 pounds, Williston-Elko H.S., Williston, S.C.
OT Justin Falcinelli, 6’3”, 290 pounds, Middletown H.S., Middletown, Md.
Clemson has built offensive line depth, meaning this position wasn’t a major priority in this class. But Smith is a highly touted prospect with plenty of room to develop on his 6’5” frame; 247Sports rates him as the No. 22 offensive tackle prospect. Hearn, rated No. 71 nationally by 247Sports, is a more developed prospect at 305 pounds.
With the graduation of All-ACC tackle Brandon Thomas and junior Gifford Timothy ending his career due to knee injuries, all three tackles have room to develop behind expected starters Isaiah Battle and Shaq Anthony.
DE Andrew Williams, 6'4", 247 pounds, Eagles Landing Christian, McDonough, Ga.
2012 stats: 60 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 18 sacks.
DL Cory Thomas, 6'6", 270 pounds, McAdory HS, McCalla, Ala.
2012 stats: 71 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks.
DE Richard Yeargin III, 6'4", 225, University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DT Jabril Robinson, 6'3", 265 pounds, North Brunswick H.S., Leland, N.C.
Robinson is a solid addition to a defensive tackle group, which features a trio of rising seniors in Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Josh Watson, as well as rising junior D.J. Reader and sophomore Carlos Watkins. However, with all of that depth in front of him, he’s a likely redshirt candidate.
Clemson would love to add another pass-rusher to the class, even though junior Vic Beasley turned down an early-round NFL selection for his senior year. He, Corey Crawford and Tavaris Barnes are all entering their final seasons on campus.
Williams would be an excellent late addition after a pair of targets spurned the Tigers. Greensboro, N.C., end Lorenzo Featherston chose Florida State and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., end Richard Yeargin III stuck with his commitment to Notre Dame. However, Yeargin has decommitted from the Fighting Irish and will be a strong candidate to join Clemson's class.
Williams is considering Clemson along with Auburn and Ole Miss. He visited Clemson Jan. 24.
Thomas is committed to Tennessee, but is still considering Clemson and Mississippi State. He visited Clemson Jan. 17 and will also visit Tennessee and MSU.
Korie Rogers, 6’1”, 210 pounds, Buford H.S., Buford, Ga.
Chris Register, 6’4”, 235 pounds, Dudley H.S., Greensboro, N.C.
2012 stats: 110 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles.
Kendall Joseph, 6’1”, 225 pounds, Belton-Honea Path H.S., Belton, S.C.
2012 stats: 129 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two sacks, five forced fumbles
Jalen Williams, 5’11", 220 pounds, Blythewood H.S., Blythewood, S.C.
2012 stats: 97 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles.
With junior middle linebacker Stephone Anthony pondering an NFL jump and fellow starters Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian graduating, opportunity exists in Clemson’s linebacker corps. Former 5-star recruit Tony Steward stands ready to replace Shuey, and freshmen T.J. Burrell and Ben Boulware should also compete for serious playing time, but the signees will have chances as well.
Rogers is rated as the No. 9 outside linebacker prospect in America by 247Sports. Register will get a chance to learn early on as an early enrollee; he is rated as the No. 13 inside linebacker prospect by 247Sports. And Joseph is a sideline-to-sideline tackler and local prospect who chose Clemson over Duke, among others.
CB J.C. Jackson, 5’11”, 185 pounds, Imokalee H.S., Imokalee, Fla.
2013 stats: 53 tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups.
S Jeff Gibson, 6’4”, 190 pounds, Grays Creek H.S., Hope Mills, N.C.
CB C.J. Fuller, 5’10”, 200 pounds, Easley H.S., Easley, S.C.
2012 stats: 2,088 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns.
Clemson signed six defensive backs in 2013, but it is a very young group with three true freshmen on the secondary’s two deep for the Orange Bowl. And that doesn’t include highly touted cornerback recruit Mackensie Alexander, who redshirted this fall following surgery to repair a groin injury.
Gibson fits the mold of rangy safety Jayron Kearse, who emerged in the second half of the season as a major contributor. Fuller played tailback at Easley, just down the road from Clemson, but he has the athleticism to contribute at corner.
Jackson is committed to Florida but is taking visits. He was in Clemson in late November and is also considering Florida State and Miami. He has not yet scheduled a visit to Clemson.
K Alex Spence, 6’2”, 190 pounds, West Florence H.S., Florence, S.C.
Clemson is losing one of its steadiest kickers ever in Chandler Catanzaro, who will play his final game in the Orange Bowl. Rising junior Ammon Lakip will have first crack at the job, but Spence, rated as the nation’s No. 9 kicker prospect by 247Sports, will have something to say about that.