Football is back! Friday nights are again alive and busy with teams, players, coaches, parents, students and folks of all sorts showing up at high school stadiums everywhere. The Friday Night Lights are on, and so are the football games we have all been waiting on since January.
This past week saw a handful of Clemson commits and targets hitting the gridiron and showing their talents. Just this last week alone, Amari Rodgers had a break out performance along with fellow commit Tee Higgins also going off in his game on Thursday night.
We took the time to ride down to the “Pee Dee” region of the Palmetto State and take in a game with the #1 DE in the 2018 class and arguably the top player in the entire nation, Xavier Thomas. We will have a feature story out later this week on Xavier and where he stands in his recruitment as well as some great footage from his game, so stay tuned for that!
Also, Clemson picked up another big-time commit on Friday when 4-star defensive back A.J. Terrell out of Westlake High School in Atlanta pushed in his All In chips for the Tigers We have more on that on the Radar Screen forum, or you can view the story by clicking the link below.
Stay tuned here to the Radar Screen and CUTigers.com, as we are tracking several more targets that look to commit to a school of their choice over the next few weeks and months. Next weekend we plan to cover the highly anticipated top-20 showdown in Atlanta between IMG Academy and Grayson, which features several Clemson commits and prospects including Mike Jones, Jr. and Chase Brice! Football season is here in the high school ranks, and each week we will continue to roll out coverage from the prep ranks like no other site on the web. Look for a new feature coming soon when we will broadcast live streams from certain high school games this fall!
****AJ Terrell Commits
ATLANTA, GA - Clemson picked up its 13th commit this week when high 4-star Atlanta native A.J. Terrell of Westlake High decided to join his childhood friend LeAnthony Williams and commit to Clemson over offers from all over the Power Five conferences.
As we projected a week ago, it was Clemson that has led in this recruitment now since early June, when Terrell and family started to make the trips into Clemson. From those stops, this commitment gradually evolved. A relationship was forged here along with the help of Clemson commit LeAnthony Williams leading the way. Williams and Terrell have been life-long friends, and it obviously has played into his recruitment to Clemson.
Clemson Commit A.J. Terrell at The Opening Finals in July
Coach Mike Reed and Coach Brent Venables have put a lot of time and effort into letting AJ know he was a priority and the Tigers needed to fill the void left in the defensive backfield with no less than 3 Clemson underclassmen (Jayron Kearse, TJ Green, Mackensie Alexander) now in the NFL from last season’s roster that needed to be replaced. You can add nickel Travis Blanks to that list of early departures as well! So far with Williams and Terrell, the staff is well on its way to filling the void left by the aforementioned players and then some. They look to add one more DB for 2017, and with Xavier McKinney, Devon Hunter and Markquese Bell (all alums of The Opening Finals and 4 stars or better) in the mix, this could very well be the Tigers' best DB class ever!
With AJ, the Tigers get another tall, long and lanky bodied player with great ball skills and a penchant for contact. And another well-grounded young man with a super family upbringing at home. He fits the mold of the type of recruits Clemson is bringing in with regularity and is a great addition to this 2017 class, which has now claimed a spot inside the Scout top 10 team recruiting rankings with just 13 commits and an average star rating of 3.85!
****Xavier Thomas Feature Preview
We drove down to the Pee Dee area of the Palmetto State on Friday night and took in the game between Timmonsville and Wilson (Florence, SC) to get a look at the state’s top player in 2018 and one of the nation's top players for that class, Xavier Thomas. He was one of the few underclassmen to receive an invitation to The Opening Finals in July, and he has been in Clemson's sights for quite some time, having made several trips to Tiger Town. Back in July, Thomas named Clemson as one of his four finalists, along with Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina.
The big-time defensive end has offers from every school coast to coast and was as advertised. From the outset of the game, he saw double teams from the Timmonsville offensive line. The Palmetto State prep star showed over and over again his non-stop motor and very quick first step, demonstrating why he has received such accolades.
From everything we saw on Friday, Thomas looked the part of the nation's #1 DE and was in on every other play. The Timmosnville team wisely ran the other way and still sent double teams after Xavier to keep him from pursuing ball carriers from the other side of the formations. Xavier was able to man-handle the opposition and basically do as he wished for most of the nigh,t as the Timmonsville offensive line had no answer for the Florence product at any point.
Time and again, it was Thomas forcing the quarterback out of the pocket and chasing down running backs from the backside pursuit. Timmonsville was avoiding Thomas so much that the Wilson staff responded by alternating him from the weak side to the strong side in an attempt to trick the offense into running a play his way. He would wait to show his alignment until breaking the defensive huddle at last possible second.
We had the chance to speak with Xavier prior to his game and interviewed him on video. We'll release that later this week along with a feature on the state's top prospect and one of the nation's overall top player for 2018. So stay tuned here to CUTigers and the Radar Screen later on this week for this feature to drop and get the scoop from Xavier himself on his recruitment and what his plans are for the upcoming fall!
****WHO’S LEFT ON THE BOARD
2017 OL Prospect Trey Smith
The Tigers have had two commitments in as many weeks, as 4-star DB AJ Terrell and 4-star DE Jordan Williams were both added to the 2017 Clemson commit list. As it stands, the class for 2017 sits now at 13 commits and is expected at this time to end up around 17-20, possibly as many as 21 players if you factor in current graduation numbers and potential off-season attrition before we reach National Signing Day in February.
Currently, the Tigers' board has the following vacancies with an over-sign or two notwithstanding:
With the possibility for more than one prospects that is “over-sign” worthy to fall into the fold later on this cycle, the staff has an open-ended approach to the numbers on the big board at present. As we have continued to preach here on the Radar, you will see some attrition on the roster post-season. As the talent level has elevated to a new level at Clemson and so too has the corresponding success on the field, the Tigers are starting to see early NFL departures with more regularity, and we also saw a couple of players transfer after last season. Players that have been on campus for some time now and have not seen the progress they want to see in their own development may look to transfer to better situations for their needs moving forward on the gridiron, thereby opening up scholarships for this 2017 class. Therefore, the 2017 class will still be in flux from a numbers standpoint. Again, our best estimate at this point is the 17 (available) to as many as 20-21 (attrition) that could be available.
With a player like OL Trey Smith out there, in a position where the Tigers have caught their limit, this staff would gladly over-sign to find a spot for a talent like Smith. Just an example, but you can expect the staff to lock into a surprise recruit over the course of the season and leading up to NSD. Bear in mind, too, that things can transpire during the season on the prep level and change the staff’s perception on a particular recruit.
Players to keep an eye on in the next few weeks and months:
****Amari and Tee Have Big Week One
2017 Clemson Commits Hunter Johnson(QB), Tee Higgins (WR) and Amari Rodgers (WR)
Clemson commits and Tennessee residents Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins had a very eventful opening to their individual seasons this past week, as Higgins opened his season on Thursday and Rodgers followed suit on Friday. Stay tuned here at CUTigers, as we will track the progress on each of Clemson's commits and prospects over the course of the season, posting results here on a weekly basis.
Here are some stats from these three Clemson commits and their games in week one of the 2016 football season:
Hunter Johnson: QB, Brownsburg (IN) 14 of 32 for 242 yards, 1 TD in a 28-26 victory
Tee Higgins: WR, Oak Ridge (TN) 2 Receptions for 68 yards and 2 TD’s and two INT’s
Amari Rodgers: WR, Knoxville Catholic (TN) 4 Receptions for 100 yards and 2 TD's, including 63-yard punt return TD
****This Week’s Tweets
5-star RB Zamir White (Zeus34) highlight:
5-star RB Zamir White: