****Tigers in the Draft = Player Development
Clemson exploded on the NFL Draft scene over the weekend with 9 picks to lead the ACC and second in the nation only to the Buckeyes of Ohio State. From Round 1 to Round 7, the Tigers were represented with well-known potential early rounders like Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd and Mackenzie Alexander, but the big surprise was the rise of players who were not as highly recruited coming out of high school and the development they received while on campus under the tutelage of the Clemson coaching staff.
If you would have asked anyone in the stands at Clemson upon T.J. Green's signing with Clemson as a 2-star WR/ATH prospect out of Alabama, no one would have projected him into the two-deep at that time, as many analysts and fans questioned the original offer. Well, they were right in the sense that he didn't crack the two-deep as a wide receiver. However, T.J. was a perfect example of a diamond in the rough. He changed positions at Clemson, entered the defensive backfield and really shined as he took on the role of safety and flourished in that spot his final two seasons in Death Valley .
This illustrates how Clemson’s staff is doing yeoman’s work identifying that talent on high school rosters around the country. Clemson got Green to sign over UAB, folks. Both of his In-state schools paid no attention to him. And at the time, it was one of the most head-scratching offers in the Dabo Swinney era .
Look at Kevin Dodd, a high school unknown that Clemson took a huge chance on and sent to Hargrave Military Academy. He returned still raw, and as Coach Brent Venables pointed out, a player that was not going to contribute. Yet he turns out to be a player that finished second in the nation in tackles-for-l;oss, behind only teammate Shaq Lawson. The Riverside High School grad also had the best five games to end his college career, including a dominating performance in the National Championship game versus Alabama. The fact that Coach Venables and, specifically, DE Coach Marion Hobby molded this unknown into an All-ACC performer and top-tier Draft candidate from the time he arrived on campus is nothing short of a miracle in the eyes of this analyst. And again, it points to the Tigers' player development and the ability to identify players that are not 4-and-5-stars and what they can bring to the table.
Then there is B.J. Goodson, a player who was a 2-or-3-star afterthought out of tiny Lamar, SC that is now becoming an NFL talent hot bed, with fellow Lamar natives Levon Kirkland (Class of 1986), John Abraham (1996), Mike Hamlin (2004) and Marshall McFadden (2005). B.J. came into his senior season after sitting behind heralded 5-star linebacker Stephone Anthony for two years. In 2015, Goodson finally got his shot and led the team in tackles with numerous key turnover recoveries over the course of the season. Goodson made a big impact and solidified a Clemson defense that was once again one of the tops in the nation.
The Tigers staff has shown the ability to find players through their analysis and relationships in recruiting to get these under-the-radar prospects and turn them into potential NFL Draftees. It's almost as impressive as the Tigers' 4-and-5-star hauls they are piling up in the past few recruiting cycles. The ability to spot, locate, evaluate and develop talent is what sets the elite programs from the wannabes of the college football world. And Clemson is showing that it's in that rare air with the results of the 2016 Draft.
1st RD - Shaq Lawson, DE, Buffalo
2nd RD - Kevin Dodd, DE, Tennessee
2nd RD - MaKensie Alexander, CB, Minnesota
2nd RD - T.J. Green, S, Indianapolis
4th RD - B.J. Goodson, ILB, New York Giants
5th RD - D.J. Reader, DT, Houston
7th RD - Charone Peake, WR, New York Jets
7th RD - Jayron Kearse, S, Minnesota
7th RD - Zac Brooks, RB, Seattle
****OrTre Smith Gets a Visit from Clemson Staff
Clemson sent in ace recruiters and Co-Offensive Coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliot to see the state’s top prep prospect this past week. See the story we put up shortly after and where we think things stand with Smith. In addition, over the past week Clemson WR target James Robinson named Florida as his leader. He had previously named Clemson as his leader several months ago. Does the Gators stepping in affect the Tigers' chances with J.J.? We will watch this closely, as Robinson is expected on campus sometime in May to visit. Meantime, OrTre Smith has made it known he will release a top 5 later on this month.
As we stated in an earlier story, we think the remaining targets in the ’17 Class at wide receiver are about to get real interesting with the upcoming Dabo Swinney camp in early June where a lot of recruiting movement tends to happen. Stay tuned here on CUTigers.com and the Recruiting Radar Screen forum for updates on OrTre’s recruitment.
****New 2018 WR Offer Goes out to IMG Star
The Tigers reach back into Bradenton, FL and IMG Academy to extend an offer to 2018 WR prospect Brian Hightower. The Tigers have staying power here, and this is one to keep your eyes on moving forward into camp season. The Tigers will vie to get the IMG star on campus for a shot at some one-on-one time with Coach Scott and the staff. Stay tuned to the Radar Screen for updates on Brian and his recruitment!
****WRU Tweet from Coach Scott This Week
Coach Scott sent out a tweet this week that really says a lot about the class that came in 2010. With Charone Peake’s recent 7th-round draft choice by the New York Jets, he joins fellow classmates Martvis Bryant, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries, Deandre Hopkins and Jaron Brown in the NFL.
With the Tigers' presence in the media since way back into the football season and week one if the college football poll, it's been a Clemson love fest in all types of media formats. You look at this week’s NFL Draft, and the Tigers were 2nd only to Ohio State in total draftees--more than even Alabama--with Clemson players taking nine spots. The entire Coastal Division of the ACC only had 8! At one point, the ESPN commentator said that Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson had accounted for 28% of the 61 picks, and it's no wonder that those were 3 of the 4 participants in the last two National Championship Games. That is free recruiting right there!
Clemson's status as WRU has become solidified, regardless of what some in the state of Tennessee may want to say about it. You can’t argue the results and accomplishments put up by Coach Scott's wide outs. And it is continuing to have an effect on recruiting at the wide receiver position. Continuing to place wide outs into the NFL is just another piece of ammo the staff can take into the recruiting wars.
****NC DB has Tigers in his Top 5
****Amari Rodgers 2017 Player Spotlight of the Week
Amari Rodgers is known for his prowess on twitter and may be the most accomplished recruiter I have ever seen at the high school level. He is a player that shows incredible body control and has really solid game as a slot WR. No matter the venue, be it in a game, at 7-on-7 events or the slew of recent skills and drills camp and combines, Amari shines and always seems to overachieve, as he has been underrated due to his size. In every event, he’s been either the top wide out or in the top 5. He recently garnered an offer for Nike's "The Opening” after he was MVP of the Atlanta Opening combine in March.
Clemson will get another shifty and very dangerous WR in the open field and a player with incredible ball skills to slide into the slot WR position behind Ray-Ray McCloud. He's a player that after a year of acclimation should see the field on special teams and as a WR. Stay tuned, as we continue to track Clemson’s most gregarious player in the 2017 Class. Who knows, he may be up for recruiter of the year when its all said and done!
One thing for sure: if you want to know about Clemson on twitter just take a peek in on Amari’s feed.