Photo by Trevor Groves

Weekly Clemson Recruiting Update and National Signing Day Preview

In our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front on the eve of National Signing Day!

****Junior Days Recap

Clemson held its first premier recruiting weekend of 2017 and did it in grand style, as the staff used the occasion to unofficially open and show off their new 55-million-dollar Football Operations Center to the visiting recruits, parents and coaches for the Saturday showcase event.  

The staff welcomed over 15 recruits of 4-star status or better and no less than 4 players considered the best at their respective positions. They were led, of course, by the 2018 Bell Cow, Clemson QB commit Trevor Lawrence, the #1 player in the Scout 300 for next year's class. His fellow 2018 Clemson classmates, Mike Jones Jr. and Jake Venables--son of Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables--were also there.  

We had intel and shared as much on The Valley forum on Saturday afternoon that an impending commitment was coming that day from Derion Kendrick a 4-star wide receiver who was recruited to play the slot in Clemson’s high-scoring offense.  Kendrick committed as he was departing Clemson on Saturday night after sitting in a meeting with Coach Swinney and his family. This was an expected commit around this time frame, as we have known for months that Derion was Clemson’s to lose.  

Clemson WR Commit Derion Kendrick

Although the Kendrick commitment was somewhat expected, the one that came 12 hours later on the following morning from 4-star DT Josh Belk out of Lewisville, SC was a huge surprise. Over a year ago, it was a forgone conclusion that Belk was bound for childhood favorite South Carolina.  But numerous visits to Clemson, starting with last year's Dabo Swinney Camp, then a few visits last fall to attend high-profile games like Louisville and South Carolina gave Belk and his family the time they needed to build solid relationships here with the staff and hence the comfort level to come in unannounced and commit.  

Also, Clemson left a huge impression on several key targets that attended over the weekend. Most notably, DB Patrick Surtain out of Florida and fellow Sunshine State native Taron Vincent, who plays for IMG Academy and is arguably the best DT in the nation for the 2018 class. We've also heard good returns coming from prospects like OG Jamaree Salyer, OG Trey Hill and OT Nana Asiedu. All high-valued targets on the Tigers' big board for the 2018 class.  Last year, the staff had 18 such visitors on Junior Days, and currently 11 of those players are on campus or singing National Letters of Intent tomorrow.  As of today, 5 of the 18 attendees are now on the commit list. Notice a pattern here?  “The best is yet to come."

2017 Junior Days Attendees:

****Tight Ends Talk Tigers and Clemson Junior Days

Clemson hosted two of the nation's top TE prospects over the weekend as part of their annual Junior Days premier player weekend. 4-star Texas native Mustapha Muhammad and Virginia star James Mitchell were both on campus and given the Orange Carpet treatment. We had a chance to speak with each and get their thoughts on Clemson and their visits.

"I really enjoyed seeing the new facility and learning more about what goes on at Clemson outside of football. One of my favorite things was getting to learn about the Paw journey and just getting to interact with all the coaches.  You could tell that Clemson is really about the people and having a relationship with their players. And the coaches really emphasized that, how they wanted us to succeed in school and life, not just football."

"It was a great visit. My family and I had a great time. The new facility was impressive, and the whole day was just unique. My favorite part was trying on the uniforms and the gear. Dope! It really felt like home.”

****Pics of Recruits During Junior Days 

 Clemson OL Prospects Jamaree Salyer and Trey Hill

Clemson CB Prospect Patrick Surtain 

Clemson OL Prospect Trey Hill 

The IMG Gang: Stephon Wynn Jr., Taron Vincent (front), Xavier Thomas (back) and Mike Jones Jr. 

Clemson OL Prospects Jamaree Salyer and Trey Hill with Coach Dabo Swinney 

IMG Gang in Orange 

****Kendrick Commits


As CUTigers has projected for some time now, Derion Kendrick, the #95 overall player in the 2018 Scout 300, has committed to play at Clemson. He just committed to coach Dabo Swinney moments ago in an exit meeting with his mother and Coach Dabo Swinney, choosing the Tigers over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Dekerion joins #1 overall 2018 prospect Trevor LawrenceJake Venables and Mike Jones Jr. as the fourth member of the class of 2018. Clemson recruited Kendrick specifically to play slot WR at Clemson, the role now held by Ray Ray McCloud and soon to be held by 2017 signee Amari Rodgers.  

Kendrick is the #1 overall player in the state of SC for the 2018 year, as the previous top two prospects (Xavier Thomas and Stephon Wynn, Jr.) have relocated to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Ironically, they were both in Clemson with Derion on the visit this weekend, also taking part in Junior Days.

Derion comes to Clemson from Rock Hill, SC, where he has played QB this season for the South Pointe Stallions. He's coached by Jibrille Fewell both at South Pointe and on his travel team, Carolina Xposure.

****Belk Commits

Photo by Gary McDaniel

The Tigers picked up another huge commitment this weekend, as the #1 DT in South Carolina is now on the Clemson 2018 commit list. He now makes five for the 2018 class, joining Derion Kendrick, who committed less than 24 hours ago, and Trevor LawrenceJake Venables and Mike Jones Jr. in the 2018 Clemson class. 

Josh Belk is a low center of gravity, interior bowling ball of a player. If I had to compare him to a past Clemson player, Grady Jarrett springs to mind. Belk is very quick and able to penetrate the line of scrimmage with ease and excels on finding the football.  
The Tigers picked up another huge commitment this weekend, as the #1 DT in South Carolina is now on the Clemson 2018 commit list. He now makes five for the 2018 class, joining Derion Kendrick, who committed less than 24 hours ago, and Trevor LawrenceJake Venables and Mike Jones Jr. in the 2018 Clemson class. 

Belk, who was long considered a Gamecock lean going into the 2016 season, warmed to the Tigers increasingly over the 2016 season. He took in games versus Louisville and South Carolina with his parents in tow, and Josh built a solid relationship with the Tigers' staff, becoming more and more comfortable in all things Orange. Belk had the family with him again this weekend on this trip to Tiger Town, or Title Town. We  have reached out to Josh to find out how the decision and commitment unfolded, and we'll get that out in the Radar on Tuesday. Belk chose Clemson over offers from Florida State, Florida, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Miami, Louisville and South Carolina, among others.

Here are some clips of Belk in action at The Opening in Charlotte:

****Etienne Commits

As we told this past week was likely to occur, Clemson just added the final piece to its 2017 recruiting class after gaining the commitment of 4-star running back and Jennings, LA native Travis Etienne on Thursday, his birthday.

Etienne, a one-time Texas A&M commit, had offers from Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Miami, Tennessee and several other Power Five schools. The big-time RB announced his birthday decision via twitter, selecting the ACC Tigers over his home-state school, LSU.

Clemson started the push for Travis after losing the commitment of long-time commit Cordarrian Richardson earlier in December due to allegations of academic impropriety within his high school program. Clemson then reached out to the 4-star running back from the bayou and quickly made it apparent he was a priority prospect.  

Shortly after receiving the Clemson overtures and ensuing offer, Etienne and family got an in-home visit from Coach Dabo Swinney and Tony Elliot and then set up an official visit to take place the following weekend in Clemson. That visit went extremely well for Travis and his family, as he was the only prospect on campus for an official visit. It gave the Clemson coaches an opportunity to lay the Orange Carpet out and impress the Etienne family with the Clemson brand of family. We are also positive they were given the “hard hat tour" of the palatial new Clemson Football Operations Center to see what Travis would be enjoying for the next 3 to 4 years. 

Watch what Etienne's high school coach had to say about him:

****National Signing Day Preview

With all the hay in the proverbial barn as they like to say, don’t expect any fireworks tomorrow, as the Tigers complete their 2017 class with the signees sending in their National Letters of Intent starting at 7 am and going on all day.  ESPN and CBS will both be on site to cover National Signing Day live from the new Clemson Football Operations Center.  We will be on live all day, updating the LOI’s as they arrive and fielding any questions you may have. We will also stream Wednesday's press conference with Recruiting Coordinator Brandon Streeter and Dabo Swinney live, beginning at 3:30, and we will have coverage of Wednesday night's Recruiting Wrap-Up banquet for you as well. The Tigers go into NSD with 14 players committed.  Here is your 2017 Clemson commit list:


As Trevor pointed out the other day, this class for the Tigers is all about quality over quantity, and the Tigers' 2017 class is pound-for-pound one of the most talented classes in the nation. According to Scout, there are only 5 schools with a higher average star rating than that of Clemson. 



****HMMM....Very Interesting

Photo by Trevor Groves

Now with all that said about the Clemson class being all wrapped up, take a look at the big board we noticed on the way out of the Football Ops Center today. 15 slots? Hmmm... So stay tuned, as this could be a preferred walk-on or a late addition, as was Cade Stewart last year.  Or, it just may be a surprise signee for all of us.  As we keep saying, “The best is yet to come.” Keep it right here at throughout the day on Wednesday!

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