Weekly Clemson Recruiting Update

In his weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!

****Here Comes the Cookout

A number of years ago, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney instituted this now well-known and emulated event for recruits, coined the "All In Cookout."  This event has attracted the best of the best of the southeastern and national recruits over the year to the campus of Clemson University.

Many times over the years, a recruit that was thought to be off the Tigers' radar would attend the cookout and suddenly have Clemson firmly implanted on his list of top schools. Or, as has happened in the past, we have seen more than one commitment come at the cookout. 

So keep your eyes peeled this upcoming week, as we will confirm a complete list of recruits from the 2017, '18 and ’19 classes that will be in attendance. And stay tuned right here, as we report on the All In Cookout and all the late July fireworks that could erupt out of Pickens County.


****Jordan Williams Talks Opening and All In Cookout


Big-time DE and arguably Clemson’s top target at the position for the 2017 class, Jordan Williams, was able to take the time to talk to us about his recent experience at The Opening Finals and his upcoming visit to Clemson for the All In Cookout. Williams was one of the top performers at the prestigious gathering of the most elite players in the nation, making the Final Five Defensive Line for the weekend.

Photo by Danny Parker

With Virginia Tech and UVA really vying hard to keep him in the state, Jordan also has Tennessee squarely in the mix as well with the Volunteers making Williams a priority for this class. As you can see, it's going to be a race to the finish on his August 6th announcement date for all of these schools. Each will try to get Jordan on campus after he attends the All In Cookout with his mother and father.

Here is what Jordan had to tell us:


CUTigers:  Tell us about your overall experience at The Opening and the type of recruits you met and competed against.

JW:  “The Opening was an amazing experience, just being able to compete with the top players in the country and be coached by some really amazing coaches and current college and professional players."


CUTigers:  Word is you're bringing your family to Clemson with you this time for the All In Cookout next week.  How long is your visit going to last?

JW:  “I am bringing both parents to the cookout, and I will be there the whole day after.”


CUTigers:  What have Coach Venables and the staff been telling you?

JW:  “They just really express their need for my position and how they can develop me to become a great football player and young man and everything else is really just to see like how things are going with me and my family and everything.”


CUTigers:  What is your favorite thing about Clemson when you are on campus there?

JW:  “My favorite would have to be the facilities and being able to run down The Hill after touching Howard's Rock. It's just amazing to me because I always see it on TV, and it's something I have wanted to do for a while.



Highlights from The Opening:


Evaluation from The Opening:


Interview from The Opening:


Williams on his Orange and White Game visit to Clemson

****New Uniforms Are In

The Tigers put the Paws back on top of the shoulder pads and the numbers on the sleeves, just like back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Here we see new freshmen WR Cornell Powell modeling his uniform for the upcoming season. Many of you Tigers above the 40 year mark will appreciate the old-school look.

 2016 Clemson WR signee Cornell Powell showing off the retro Tiger Uniforms that Nike has brought back to replicate the 1981 National Champs.


****Hunter Johnson Recaps The Opening

Student Sports

Hunter Johnson has had a busy summer so far. He participated in Dabo Swinney's camp last month and has since been to L.A. and Oregon for competition in the Elite 11 and The Opening Finals. Last weekend at the Nike headquarters in Oregon, Hunter played with and competed against the best in the nation, and, as usual, he was sharp and impressive. As an added bonus, he was assigned to the same 7-on-7 squad as fellow 4-star WR commits Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins so he was able to throw to two of his future Clemson WRU targets all weekend long. 

CUTigers got an exclusive with the 4/5-star Clemson QB commit after his weekend at The Opening at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Johnson, who has been tearing up the skills and combine camps all spring and summer, continues to impress on a high level. Some analysts have him as the top QB in the nation, and I am leaning that way the more I see of the gunslinger from Indiana. 

With a prototypical QB physique, the 6'3, 210-pound Johnson already looks like a senior in college, and his arm strength does as well. It's well known that the senior Clemson commit has a rocket of an arm, and you can see for yourself in the highlights below.

Here is what the blue chip QB had to say about his experience and what it was like hanging with fellow Clemson commits Tee HigginsAmari Rodgers and Matt Bockhorst.

CUTigers:  Congratulations on a stellar camp season. How was your trip to Oregon for The Opening Finals?

HJ:  "Thanks! The week started out great when Tee committed on the 4th! Then getting to spend the rest of the week with Tee, Amari and Matt Bockhorst was awesome. It's always fun to get together with those guys and play. I also got a chance to talk to some of the guys we're really trying to get."

CUTigers:  How rewarding is it to you personally to be invited to such a prestigious event?

HJ:  "Having the chance to go to The Opening and Elite 11 and learn from some of the best guys who have played the QB position at the collegiate level and the NFL level couldn't have been more rewarding. The things I learned in the past week are things I will take into my high school football games, to college at Clemson and hopefully beyond."

CUTigers:  Did you form some new relationships over the weekend?

HJ:  "The guys I met through this experience will be guys I will stay in contact with for the rest of my career and will look forward to seeing again in the future."



The Opening Finals


Elite 11 Finals



Scout evaluation from The Opening last weekend:


****4-Star LB Justin Foster Confirms Attendance at All In Cookout

Gary McDaniel

Gary McDaniel




Interview from The Opening last weekend:


4-star Shelby, NC linebacker Justin Foster is confirmed for the All In Cookout next week here in Clemson. Lead recruiters Dan Brooks and Brent Venables have spent a lot of time and concerted efforts into making the Shelby Crest High School standout feel at home in Tiger Town. 

Foster should feel pretty familiar every time he steps onto campus with his sister having just graduated from Clemson this summer. Justin is no secret to Clemson fans either, as they have seen him attend many a game here inside the confines of Death Valley.

Foster has a laundry list of offers that includes all the in-state schools of North Carolina to go along with Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee from the SEC.  Notre Dame, Stanford and a host of others have offered Justin as well. The prize recruit was among the elite players in all the land at The Opening Finals last weekend.

For quite a while, Clemson was the perceived leader here, but since the end of the season, Tennessee has muddied the waters and was able to get Foster on campus a couple of times. Since then, its been tooth and nail between the Tigers and Vols for the NC standout’s commitment. Stay tuned here at CUTigers.com, as we will keep you apprised of any developments during the big-time linebacker's visit next weekend!

****Xavier McKinney De-Commits from Alabama


Photo by Jason Caldwell


4-star stud defensive back and Roswell High (Roswell, GA) standout Xavier McKinney has withdrawn his long-time commitment to Nick Saban and Alabama. It's no secret that McKinney has not been a stranger to the Clemson campus and has ties to the school, as fellow DB and teammate LeAnthony Williams is already committed to the Tigers. These two have made the trip to Pickens county more than once together, and we reported after the Orange and White Game that this de-commitment was potentially out there.

Now that this has come to fruition, look for the Tigers and lead recruiter Coach Mike Reed to seize on the timing of this all right before the All In Cookout next weekend. Things are really starting to cook here in late July on the recruiting front, and more than one surprise may come out of the “All In Cookout,” so stay tuned.

The Tigers have their eyes on several of the nation’s top DB’s, and it’s a first-commit type deal with only 2 scholarships left to give at the position. McKinney was long thought to be a player Clemson really wanted to sign in this class. At present, McKinney cites no leaders and has a host of SEC, ACC, Big Ten and other Power Five schools lined back up at the table to resubmit their resumes for the big-time DB out of the Metro Atlanta hot spot. Remember, too, that Roswell High is where the Tigers got their last All In Cookout commit in 4-star 2016 LB Tre Lamar, and that can't hurt Clemson's chances with McKinney, either, as he and Lamar remain close!

Junior Highlights:


McKinney at The Opening Atlanta:


McKinney interview from The Opening Finals last weekend:




Chad Simmons

Tre Lamar after committing to Clemson following the 2015 All In Cookout

****4-Star 2018 WR Pays Midweek Visit


4-star 2018 WR Brian Hightower was on campus at Clemson on Wednesday, and the visit apparently made a big impression. Scout's Corey Bender was able to catch up with HIghtower to discuss the visit, as he writes below:

Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers have had a strong liking for all of the top-notch talent that's been manufactured and delivered out of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and also hold a commitment from one of their 2018 prospects in Mike Jones Jr., the nation's 19th-ranked safety prospect.

Prospects out of the 2018 class are still nearly two years away from receiving their high school diplomas, but the Tigers have wasted no time placing their foot on the accelerator and are hoping for some similar success when it comes to the recruitment of Jones's teammate, Brian Hightower.

The California native, who's currently tagged as the nation's seventh-ranked wide receiver, spent a good chunk of his Wednesday mingling with those involved with the Tigers' football program, and was certainly reassured of his importance to their recruiting class before calling it a day and exiting campus.

"What really impressed me was the way the coaches welcomed me, and also the facilities and seeing them being built," Hightower said. "Also, the photo shoot and time they put into me.

"It stacked up against previous visits because they were very focused on me and showed a lot of attention. They did more things for me than the other universities did, and I had a great time down there; it was exciting."

There were two Clemson coaches that really had the opportunity to echo their recruiting pitches and lay the groundwork for the nation's 57th-ranked player overall in 2018.

"I met with (co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach) Jeff Scott and (co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach) Tony Elliott," Hightower said. "They were just telling me how they are going to recruit me, and that I'm a top guy in the 2018 class and big target for them.

"They also told me how things are ran with the offense."

With that being said, is the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Hightower inching closer to dishing out a clear front-runner in his recruitment?

"They made a big impression, but I'm still taking things slow; I don't have top schools yet," Hightower said. "What's most important to me is the coaches and tradition of receivers that have came out of that school."

Stay tuned to CUTigers.com as we continue to track Hightower's recruitment!

Clips from The Opening Orlando:



****Interview with 4-star DE Malik Herring

Chad Simmons


Malik Herring was one of the top performers at The Opening Finals last weekend, and he was so impressive that he made the Final Five Defensive Line, along with fellow Clemson target Jordan Williams. Many feel that the Georgia product will stay in state with UGA, but the Tigers are neck-and-neck with the Bulldogs, and he wouldn't be the first elite player Clemson has stolen from its Peach State rival's back yard. As mentioned above, Clemson has an excellent shot at landing a commitment soon from Jordan Williams. If that occurs, you'd have to wonder if that will influence Herring's decision. Scout's Chad Simmons caught up with the star defensive end at The Opening Finals, and the interview is below along with clips of Herring in action last weekend.



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