****Freshman Position Battles/Junior Day
As March approaches and spring football is in the air, the fans at Clemson are looking towards the practice fields at Jervey Meadows to see what the 2017 version of the Tigers will eventually transform into. With spring practice beginning March 1st and a lot of questions still to be answered, competition is heating up at many positions, and a few position groups could get help from Incoming freshmen from the 2017 class. At the forefront are the questions surrounding the quarterback position at Clemson, and freshman early enrollee Hunter Johnson may play his way into the race for the job. He has been on campus now and is amid acclimation and taking part in winter mat conditioning drills.
Clemson will go into spring practice behind the likes of Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Tucker Israel. All up and down the Tigers' roster, red shirt and true freshmen are anticipating the chance to come in and compete at their respective positions. Players to watch in the 2017 class for immediate playing time include WR Tee Higgins, the aforementioned Hunter Johnson and S A.J. Terrell, who are all rumored to be advanced enough in their development to come in and garner playing time in the upcoming season.
In our opinion, the staff will try to red shirt as many of the incoming 2017’s as they can to help make space for larger classes in upcoming years. And outside of the three mentioned, WR Amari Rodgers potentially makes a case for playing time with an outside shot from DE Jordan Williams, CB LeAnthony Williams and OL Blake Vinson. The rest of this class needs the time in the weight room and acclamation to the college life in our opinion.
Meanwhile, the grind of recruiting just keeps on turning, and the wheels that seemingly never stop rolling continue to roll on. Clemson is all set for its second Junior Day event to take place next weekend on March 4th. all to coincide with the spring practice schedule and enable the recruits to see how the national champs are gearing up for 2017 with their annual early-year practice sessions.
The staff is offered yet another chance to bring in another group of 2018 and some 2019 stars from all over the state, region and country, and it will also be an opportunity to showcase the newly opened Football Operations Center, a massive recruiting weapon. We can confirm that as of today, star NC standout LB Payton Wilson and big-time TE prospect Will Mallory out of Florida will be on hand. Mallory is one of only three tight end offers the staff has relayed in 2018. As we get closer to next weekend, we will gather and provide a confirmed list of prospective visitors expected to attend.
****Zamir White Names Top 4
Clemson has been on the radar Zamir White, the #1 RB in the nation for 2018, since the outset of his recruitment. He's a player that is very familiar with the Clemson staff, surroundings and game atmospheres, as White has made more than a few stops in Pickens County over the past two years. Now, as he turns the page on his junior year of high school and eyes the horizon that is 2018 National Signing Day, White has announced via twitter that he will commit on his mother’s birthday in mid-June. He is making the rounds this spring, taking in Junior Days and getting to and from campuses with his mother in tow.
Recently, UGA has been at the forefront of his recruitment with a recent visit for the Dawgs' big Junior Day on the same weekend Clemson held its. He and his mother made a return trip to UGA this past weekend and are expected to be in Chapel Hill on March 4th visiting his home state Heels instead of Clemson.
Clemson has lost some traction here, and the Dawgs are looking like they have now moved ahead of the Tigers. This would be the perception based on his recent trips to Athens so close to one another. Many eye brows were raised when word got out that he made the second trip in three weeks to the UGA campus.
However, the Clemson staff still have their eyes set on the top RB in the nation and will get him back on campus in the interim as the summer approaches and White approaches his decision in mid-June. It’s also common knowledge that White, Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas are all friends via social media and have discussed the possibility of committing and paying together on the next level.
****Xavier Thomas MVP at The Opening in Florida
The #1 defensive end in the 2018 Scout 300, and top-tier Clemson prospect Xavier Thomas took part in Nike's The Opening trials in Orlando over the weekend and won the event's MVP award and a trip to The Opening Finals later on this years in Oregon at the Nike headquarters. The big man from Florence, SC is still standing on a Clemson vs South Carolina battle for his services. Thomas is weighing his loyalty to his childhood favorite Gamecocks against the National Champion Clemson and a 2018 class that is being built for another championship run.
Thomas, who is very open about his recruitment via social media, is conflicted. He is being told he can be the face of the program at South Carolina, and at Clemson he’s being told he can join a program that enjoys winning and gathering trophies every year.
Here is our latest interview with Xavier from Orlando over the weekend:
Thomas has stated that if Steve Spurrier had not retired unexpectedly in 2015, he would have committed to South Carolina by now, and he's also let it be known that he does not want to join a team without a future or with low expectations. He is trying to gauge whether Will Muschamp can turn it around in year two and get the Gamecocks on the north side of a .500 record, a feat that has not been accomplished in Columbia since 2014.
Clemson on the other hand, comes off a dream season that saw the Tigers claim a National Championship with countless accolades and individual player awards to reflect the success of the program that now has 6 straight seasons of 10 or more wins and has moved inside that elite “blue blood” crowd at the top of the college football dance card.
Thomas was just in Tiger Town for the last Junior Day with his IMG teammates and is expected back on campus soon, as the IMG staff is going to be taking many of their prospects on a whirlwind tour through the southeast in upcoming weeks.
Stay tuned, as Thomas and his recruitment will be followed every step of the way here on the Radar right here on CUTigers.com!
****2018 Tight Ends
TE Will Mallory
This week, we look at the tight end position and the offers that the staff has out there for the lone spot on the roster, as the Tigers look to take just one tight end in 2018 after not signing any in the 2017 class.
The staff has offers out to three players from across the map--Virginia, Florida and Texas hold the three prospects coveted most by the staff for the 2018 TE spot on the big board.
The staff has been on a high 4-star tight end out of Texas the longest, offering Mustapha Muhammad all the way back in the spring of 2017, and has been hot on the trail of the jumbo athlete from the outset of the offer. Muhammad, who just attended Clemson's first Junior Day in early February along with his parents, has expressed to us his intention to return to campus soon and already has the Tigers set for an official visit. We shall see when that takes place, as Muhammad has indicated his recruitment could end in the summer.
With Mallory, a kid that a lot of folks have offered as a wide receiver, you get a cerebral player who is growing into a tight end with the frame to put on the needed weight and carry it without losing any of his skill set. He was last on campus back in late November and has since seen his offer list expand exponentially over the past few months. The staff has ear-marked the March 4th Junior Day event to host Mallory and family in person to show them the Tigers in spring practice and show off their new Football Ops Center in the process.
And then there is James Mitchell out of Virginia, who also made the trip to Tiger Town for the first Junior Day earlier in the month. He's a 3-star player who brings a lot of athleticism to the position with a great set of strong hand and a frame that is ideal to build on for a player looking to grow into a position--like you often have to at TE, OL and LB. A standout in Virginia, Mitchell has the ACC and Big Ten all lined up with offers, as he is no secret to recruiting circles in the Mid-Atlantic region of the recruiting map.
The Tigers only have these three TE offers out there at present, with one lone spot to give on the current roster. So stay tuned, as we watch this all play out with summer camp stops and early commits the norm and not the exception these days. This is a position in which the staff could find its answer for 2018 sooner rather than later, so stay tuned!
****2018 LB Prospect Names Top Schools
Clemson is looking to expand its 2018 class for the linebacker position, already having Jake Venables and Mike Jones Jr. in the fold. And with the recent offer sent out to Tar Heel State product Payton Wilson, the staff is still recruiting Maryland prep standout Teradja Mitchell.
The staff is trying to get Mitchell back on campus for the upcoming March 4th Junior Day event and Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables is out front here in this talented linebacker's recruitment.
If the staff can get Mitchell back on campus, things could get very interesting for the last linebacker spot in an already taxed class number-wise. Payton Wilson has already confirmed attendance at the upcoming Junior Day on the 4th of March.
With the 2018 class only expected to hold 12-16 potential scholarships available to add to the roster and linebacker numbers being what they are, it's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out. The staff has not relayed any other offers at the position, so as of today, it's between Wilson and Mitchell for the final spot.
Stay tuned here to CUTigers.com and the Radar for all your recruiting news and intel!