Looking ahead to 2015: LB

At least six prospects are currently on board with Clemson's 2015 class. And there will be plenty more additions before the first Wednesday in February of 2015.

Four-star outside linebacker Tanner Muse is the top-rated prospect in the group. Safety Van Smith is also a four-star. Brothers, J.D. Davis and Judah Davis, are down as three-star outside linebackers. Jalen Williams, a high school senior like the Davis brothers, is also a greyshirt candidate, but he could end up enrolling in 2014. There's also a pair of three-stars on the offensive side of the ball: wide receiver Shadell Bell and offensive tackle Noah Green.

In this series, we're taking a position-by-position look at the junior prospects to keep an eye on as the focus begins to shift towards the 2015 haul.


Brent Venables will lose at least two the starters from his position group after the Orange Bowl next month. And Stephone Anthony, the starting middle linebacker, is flirting with the idea of foregoing his final season.

But if Anthony does elect to return to Clemson in 2014, he'll be a senior alongside Tony Steward, the leading candidate to take over at the weak-side spot.

T.J. Burrrell, who will be a redshirt sophomore next season, could be a candidate to start on the strong-side. Oklahoma transfer Kellen Jones will be a redshirt junior and he could compete for the starting job at either one of the two outside spots. He'll be a redshirt junior.

B.J. Goodson will also be a redshirt junior and he could fill in behind Anthony in the middle or on the weak-side. Ben Boulware, a rising sophomore, will continue to provide depth in the middle. Fellow class of 2013 signee Dorian O'Daniel will figure into the mix on the outside.

Mid-year enrollee Chris Register will arrive to Clemson in January. He'll play in the middle if he doesn't outgrow the position and start putting his hand on the ground at defensive end. Kendall Joseph looks to be a fit on the weak-side and Korie Rogers could end up on the strong-side.

With at least two greyshirts set to arrive in January of 2015, the Clemson coaches could add one or two more linebackers to the 2015 signing class.

Here are some class of 2015 names to keep an eye on over the next several months.

Ricky DeBerry, St. Christopher's School - Richmond, Va.
One of the most highly sought after prospects in the entire country, DeBerry is a five-star prospect and ranked by Scout.com as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the class of 2015.

The well-traveled prospect visited several schools this season, including a trip to Clemson for the Georgia game. It was his second trip of the calendar year to Clemson.

"I definitely like coach [Dabo] Swinney a lot. He's definitely a players' coach. It definitely helps their chances with me," DeBerry said. "Coach Swinney is definitely a players' coach. I love what he does with his players and how he can relate to some of his players, which helps him get some of the best recruits in the country."

Justin Hilliard, St. Xavier High School - Cincinnati, Ohio
A four-star outside linebacker, Scout.com lists Hilliard as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the country. Clemson hosted him for a visit the day of the Florida State game.

Hilliard has over 25 offers to his name, and some are from the top programs in the country, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma and Penn State. The Irish could have the inside track for his services.

Smith picked up his offer from Clemson while in for the FSU game.
Roquan Smith, Macon County High School - Montezuma, Ga.
Clemson sent Smith home with an offer after he visited Tigertown for the Florida State game. Venables passed along the news.

"I met with Coach Venables for a little bit and he offered me, then told me how he loves my speed and how I hit someone in the mouth. He said he could use me at the WILL or SAM linebacker position in his defense," Smith told Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons.

Smith is a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 5 middle linebacker in the class of 2015.

Johnathan Sutton, Swansea High School - Swansea
There's little doubt as to who the top linebacker prospect in the state of South Carolina is right now, regardless of class. That's Christian Miller, who's committed to Alabama. As for who is No. 2, that very well could be Sutton.

The four-star prospect has been to Clemson several times over the last year, including a three-day stop for camp. There, he was one of Venables' favorite participants at linebacker. Sutton's offer speaks to that: Clemson, FSU, UNC, N.C. State, South Carolina and UCLA.

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