A big reason for that is because of the work the coaches have done trying to shore up the offensive line. Considering Clemson has landed three offensive linemen already, including two amongst the top ten at their respective positions, they're off to a pretty good start.
One of those young men is Jake Fruhmorgen, an athletic offensive tackle with a pedigree for big time football.
Fruhmorgen hasn't even finished his junior year of high school yet but he felt comfortable enough with Clemson to pull the trigger a little over a week ago and commit to the Tigers.
He recently sat down with CUTigers on what made now the right time to make that decision.
"I really just felt like I wanted to go there," he said. "I really wanted to get the process over with and I'm focused on bringing my team to the promised Land next year. I just want to focus on my high school team right now and with recruiting, and all those calls, and all of that stuff out of the way I can really focus on my senior year."
With those calls and offers coming from virtually every top program in the country, Clemson faced stiff competition for Fruhmorgen's services, but in the end the Tigers won out. What exactly does Clemson bring to the table that the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and many others do not?
"When I went up there I felt the very family oriented atmosphere," he said. "There's a real sense of community and I just felt really comfortable while I was there. I knew I could really develop into a great player at a place like that and it just seemed like a really cool place to get better as person and a player."
|"There's a real sense of community and I just felt really comfortable while I was there. I knew I could really develop into a great player at a place like that and it just seemed like a really cool place to get better as person and a player."|
It turns out that sometimes a "football factory" like Alabama, led by a coach like Nick Saban isn't always what players are looking for.
"I've actually been to Alabama more times than people think, I've been there as a freshman a few times and as a sophomore," Fruhmorgen said. "You know, I liked it, it's a nice campus and all, but I really didn't get the same family-oriented feel. I didn't really feel like it was the type of environment that I needed to develop into the player that I want to be. I definitely know how to focus on football but Alabama just felt like a very serious atmosphere. I'm more of a laid back guy. I want to get better, but I don't want to always be stressing out about stuff. I just felt far more comfortable at Clemson."
Fruhmorgen said "working hard" is something he is very accustomed to doing, but Alabama just didn't feel like the right fit for him.
Jake may not have visited Clemson as much as he did Alabama throughout his high school years but something about Clemson has stuck with him and ultimately made him realize that he'd rather play for Clemson than anyone else.
"It's like a small town, with big football. That was the bottom line for me. I really like that small town atmosphere, it has a quiet feel, it's not like crazy traffic, there's not always something big going on. It's just a really relaxing area I think. I really look forward to living in a place like that, I like it a lot."
One of the main things that can foster a small town, family-like environment is a coaching staff. Running backs coach Tony Elliott was Jake's main recruiter and he obviously did a good job forming a relationship with him. Head Coach Dabo Swinney has a reputation of being a "player's coach," but still maintains a strong sense of leadership and control over his program. (see: Chad Kelly) That type of vibe from the head man and the rest of the staff resonated well with Jake while he was mulling over his options.
"My relationship is great with Coach Swinney. He's one of those coaches that I think I could really talk to and not necessarily seem like I'm talking to the head coach. Not in a bad way, but he just feels like a regular coach. It's not the same feel that I've gotten from other coaches. He makes you feel comfortable when you're around him and he tells you straight up what he thinks and his plans for the future.
"I really appreciated how up front he was with me and I got the feel that I could be totally up front with him too. He's one of those guys that if you bumped into him you wouldn't think he was a head coach. He's really cool with all of the players, but he preaches winning and winning the right way. He wants his players to do the right thing on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. He wants to achieve things by doing them the hard way but the right way and that really stuck with me."
Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has also become comfortable with Jake and with what he prefers now that he's committed to the Tigers.
"I'm sure I'll get to know Coach Caldwell better as time moves on but I honestly don't feel the need to talk to him that much right now. Some recruits say, ‘Yeah, I have to talk to the coaches every night,' but Coach Caldwell basically told me to call him when I need to. He said he doesn't want to call and bother me all the time and I like that. He made it very clear that I could call him whenever I wanted to about anything, but honestly I don't really feel the need to. I'm not real sensitive so I don't really need that kind of attention. I'm just going to come to work every day and do what I'm supposed to do. I liked that about him and all of the coaches. They understood how I liked to be recruited and that's what they've done. I don't like to be bothered a lot, I like being a normal high schooler."
Predominantly thought of as a true tackle-type of lineman, Fruhmorgen prides himself on his versatility and willingness to do what's necessary for the betterment of the team. When you add Mitch Hyatt and Noah Green into the mix, the future on offensive line at Clemson looks pretty promising.
Jake Fruhmorgen is the No. 10 offensive tackle in the country according to Scout.com. (Scout.com)
"We've talked about it a little bit. They like me on the right side. You know they've got Mitch (Hyatt) coming in and Noah (Green), but they haven't said like, ‘You're only a pure tackle.' They like that I'm versatile. I'm not real picky about it. If someone got hurt and they wanted me to play guard, I'd play guard. That's my mentality, I want to make the team better and not worry about myself as much. I pride myself on being a team-oriented guy. I don't care what position I play, but they did focus on me playing tackle because of my athleticism and because my technique is pretty good for a high schooler."
He also mentioned his future teammates, Mitch Hyatt, as well as Noah Green, and what they all mean for the future of Clemson football.
"We've definitely started forming a relationship. We spoke at the spring game, me, Mitch, and Noah. Noah is as good of an athlete as anyone in the country I think. He's a very underrated player. I think all three of us have a chance of playing early. I don't know the whole situation with depth and redshirts and stuff, but we have the potential to play early. We only talked a little bit about football during the spring game. It was really just hanging out and getting to know each other and stuff. I think we all definitely realize the potential though, and are excited about being teammates."
There's no doubt that Fruhmorgen is a highly touted prospect but he recognizes that he's got a lot of work to do before he's ready to compete on the college level. It's always good when a player can recognize his strengths but can also own their weaknesses. He certainly seems to understand this balance and knows what it will take to succeed at the next level.
"My strength is probably pass-pro. I think I have a very good kick-step and good agility with my feet. It's something that I always practiced and I feel like I mastered it at a young age, and I've had a lot of help along the way, so that would probably be one of my strong, strong suits. One of my weaknesses is my run blocking. I'm not as strong as I need to be yet but I am definitely working on that every day. I'm not a bad run blocker, but it's something I think I definitely need to work on. Adding weight and getting stronger will help me with that obviously and can get me to be the run blocker that I want to be."
At 6-5, 290 pounds, it's scary to think that Jake sees himself as being too weak at this point in his career. He tore his labrum so he hasn't been able to bench press as much as he'd like and that makes him feel like he's not getting stronger as fast as he'd like. In the meantime he has been doing box jumps, squats, and other leg building exercises to increase his strength and speed.
He also plans to do more speed and agility workouts throughout the summer.
In addition, as Fruhmorgen prepares for the summer and his senior campaign he has some goals in mind. His Plant team fell in the state semifinals of Florida's largest high school division to perennial powerhouse Apopka last year and that has left him and his teammates hungry, but focused, for next season.
"My expectations are actually to just take one game at a time. Our first three games are going to be pretty tough. We have Armwood High School for our preseason game. They have a great defense with Byron Cowart so I'm really looking forward to playing him. Our second game is in Georgia against Lowndes, so we start the year off with two tough teams. Then our third game is against our rival, Robinson High School. So those first three games are a big test and I just want to take it one game at a time. Obviously I want to get to the state championship, but I'm not going to look ahead because we start off with some great teams."
Fruhmorgen could easily be an impact player when his number is called, but unfortunately for Tiger fans that won't be for quite a while. Don't worry though; Jake has a message to ensure he's worth the wait.
"I want to make Clemson one of the best offensive lines in the country. I want to push our teammates and our offensive line to their limits and hopefully they can push me just as hard. I want us to develop into the best offensive line in Clemson history."