****Spring Break and Recruiting
With the annual collegiate rite and ritual known as “Spring Break” comes the mass hiatus from campuses all over the nation including the Clemson Football team, as students head to beaches and spring break destinations all over the map. With this yearly occurrence, the coaching staff uses it to also take a break, gather their bearings and and regroup. It's also a week spent managing the remaining recruiting board and targets on the 2017 class, as well as the upcoming 2018 and 2019 classes.
Sitting at nine commitments, the Tigers still have a lot of recruits to get on campus and show them what Clemson University and Coach Dabo Swinney have to offer them. With the annual Orange and White Game fast approaching (April 9), the staff is setting up a huge list of visitors and is expecting a stellar day recruiting-wise. It will mark the third of the ear marked "Junior Days" recruiting weekends this spring and will serve as the vehicle to attract more and more of the region's talent to Tiger Town to take a look at the Clemson brand and what the 2016 version and Coach Dabo Swinney have to offer. Expect to see a lot of the 2017 commitments and some of the major targets on the Radar to attend.
The Tigers return to the practice fields this week, and Trevor will have coverage all week and can update you on how things are progressing with the 2016 early enrollees like Tre Lamar and Rahshaun Smith, along with "Big Dex" Lawrence.
The development of these players on the defense is very pertinent to the 2017 class, as it was the early development of players like Deon Cain, Ray Ray McCloud and Mitch Hyatt on the offensive see of he ball that coaches pointed at for the 2016 class.
And now, as the 2017 class is building, it's the 2016 signees on the defensive side that everyone is tracking inside the program. Out on the recruiting trail they are also paying attention, as the Tigers are known to play freshmen in big games and early in their careers. Early enrollees will continue to have a big impact in this regard.
Stay tuned, as we will continue to monitor and gather intel here on the CUTigers Recruiting Radar Screen forum.
****New 4-star DB/ATH Offer in North Carolina
The Tigers dispensed an offer to 2017 Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, a 6’4 monster of a safety out of the Charlotte area of Concord, NC. He’s being recruited at both wide receiver and safety positions. The Tigers have coveted the long and tall safeties like NFL Draft prospects T.J. Green and Jayron Kearse. So with a who’s-who of offers already laying on the table, stay tuned as we track this good-looking prospect moving forward.
****Charlotte VTO results
VTO Sports held its Elite100 event in Charlotte on Sunday in cold and windy conditions but had an stellar turnout of some of the best upcoming prospects in the North/South Carolina geographic area. Players from both states converged on the Queen City and host Mallard Creek High School to join Vince Jacobs and his team of coaches as they put these high school ballers through the paces. From laser-timed 40-yard dash runs, to reps on the bench press, from shuttle drills to position drills with one-on-one and 7-on-7 concepts, it's a true combine in every sense of the word--just like you see on ESPN and the NFL Network during early March every year.
VTO has always been a great barometer for what is available in the area on the recruiting trail. With regularity, VTO events and combines continues to draw the best players in both states.
DB MVP Jordan Lane
QB MVP Kingsley Ifedi
DL MVP Damir Faison
****Spotlight Prospect of the Week
Tee Higgins WR Oak Ridge HS (Oak Ridge,TN)
One of the Tigers' biggest remaining targets on the radar for 2017 is without a doubt Oak Ridge,TN wide receiver Tee Higgins. The tall and lanky basketball and football star is an offensive Coordinator and Quarterback's dream come true. With a big frame and great vertical, ball control in the red zone and downfield possession are attributes this player brings to the table from the second he steps on the field. If you watch his highlight film, you see the basketball skills really shine through when he runs a deep out route and out-positions the DB time and time again. A jump ball specialist, Higgins also has the straight line speed to grab an in route and turn it into a huge gain, He also has the ability to create separation on go routes and is able to make the big plays. Think of a very polished Deon Cain (remember Cain was a high school QB) when thinking of Tee and how he would translate onto the field as a Tiger if he would choose to play his college football here at Clemson. Currently, Tee claims no leaders, as he is a former Tennessee commit and is being recruited by Power Five teams from all over the region and nation. Clemson has really turned on the jets with regard to recruiting in the state of Tennessee, already having secured two big commitments from fellow Volunteer State ballers in RB Cordarrian Richardson and WR Amari Rodgers. Rodgers and Higgins play on the same 7-on-7 team and have hinted many times about playing together on the next level.
****New Coaches Coming out of High School Ranks; What Does This Do for Clemson on the Recruiting Trail?
Last week, the Tigers picked up two new coaching assistants for the upcoming season--one on each side of the ball--when Dabo Swinney reached out and hired Mickey Conn (Head Coach of Grayson HS in Loganville, GA) and Kyle Richardson (Head Coach of Northwestern HS in Rock Hill, SC) to add to the Clemson staff of ace recruiters. Both coaches come from historically strong and elite high school programs that are notoriously talent rich and are on every college recruiting coordinator's visit list. Both of these schools have been pipelines to ACC and SEC programs.
It has been a trend all over college athletics in recent years to reach into the high school ranks and find new coaching blood. You need to look no further than the state of Texas where this all started, when then high school coach Art Briles entered the college ranks and now is the head man at Baylor. In the same state, you can look at the evolution of Chad Morris from high school head coach to mid-major offensive coordinator, to the highest paid assistant in the nation as Clemson’s offensive coordinator, to a head coaching position at SMU.
You can also see this in the SEC with Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, famous for his role in Micheal Oher’s career as his high school head coach. He ultimately followed the recruit to Ole Miss as an assistant for a season before leveraging that into the job at Arkansas State. He has since returned to Ole Miss as their head coach and turned that program around, starting on the recruiting trail.
Finally, how can you talk about high school coaches and college without mentioning another Arkansas State product: Auburn head man Gus Malzhan. So the path has been beaten before, with very successful transitions from high school to college.
When it come to Coach Mickey Conn, Grayson is home to 3 Clemson players on the present roster (Wayne Gallman, Nick Schuessler and Ryan Carter), and you can add current 2017 QB commit Chase Brice, who is also Coach Conn’s nephew. As many of you know, Conn and Coach Swinney go way back as former teammates and roommates at Alabama. With numerous ties all over the state of Georgia and Alabama, Coach Conn will be a welcomed asset for the Tigers' recruiting efforts.
New Clemson Assistant Mickey Conn
Richardson comes from talent-rich Rock Hill SC, and is known for his prolific offenses and its propensity for developing college-ready division I quarterbacks, such as Justin Worley (UT) and Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State). This move could open up the area around Rock Hill to the Tigers, as it's been a Gamecock recruiting stronghold in the past five to six years. Richardson, again, is well-known for his offenses and their schemes and his ability to plug and play each year regardless of the roster turnover. As a result, Northwestern has a history of making tracks out of Rock Hill and down I-77 to Columbia for the State Championship Game many times over the years.
Richardson will bring with him that offensive mind and a knowledge of the local area talent and relationships that are crucial when recruiting. Clemson has lacked a tie into the area with real relationships, and this will open up the Tigers to an area of the state of which it has been practically shut out by the Gamecocks over the last eight years. Jonathan Meeks, a current NFL safety, is the last big name the Tigers were able to pull from the area.
New Clemson Assistant Kyle Richardson
How these new hires work out for the Tigers on the recruiting trail still has a way to go to see if these two can make a true impact. However, it cannot hurt to know the Tigers have someone with ties to kids like 2019 Grayson LB Owen Pappoe and DB DeAngelo Gibbs, along with 2018 South Pointe DB/ATH Derion Kendrick. Both of these coaches could help play a big role in their former zip codes. Stay tuned to the CUTigers Recruiting Radar Screen forum, as we keep our eyes on how these hires pan out on the recruiting trail!
****VA DB Loved Clemson Visit
Our colleague Michael Clark dropped off a great little piece of intel last week about VA DB Dashaun Jerkins, a target that is on the radar and we tracking. The Tigers are trending very high with this athletic baller from Woodbridge High in Woodbridge, VA. He has yet to get the offer from the Tigers but is looking to make the trip back this summer for a possible camp visit and participation so the coaches can get to see him up close and in person. Stay tuned, as we will follow Dashaun's recruitment, and enjoy his Q&A with Michael Clark below.
****This Week’s Tweets