The Tigers begin spring practice today on the fields of Jervey Meadows with a ton of talent to replace among the skilled positions on the offense and a couple integral leaders on the defensive side of the ball. The prevailing national champions will have all eyes, both public and media focused on this team and how it progresses over the spring practice period.
Of course, the quarterback battle is paramount to everyone with any interest in Clemson’s 2017 season, and that battle is shaping up to be an very intriguing situation. Incumbent QB’s Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Tucker Isreal are all in the mix along with newcomer Hunter Johnson, who is already enrolled and on campus.
There is also much to look for and forward to with the other three 2017 early enrollees already on campus. How will Blake Vinson acclimate to the offensive line and strength and conditioning program? Can Logan Rudolph get his shoulder back in shape and be involved in contact this spring? Where does he fit--DE or LB?
The same can be said of Baylon Spector, a safety prospect that could just grow into another LB before its all done. I will tell you this: with Tanner Muse and this kid roaming around back there, I would be sure to check my head gear if I am an opposing WR and see either of those two in the defensive backfield.
A lot of story lines will be started and played out in July when the rest of the 2017 signees report and start training with the Tigers. Until then, stay tuned here to CUTigers.com, as we will be all over spring practice and reaching into our sources to glean the best intel we can on the Tigers' progress this spring.
****Junior Day This Weekend
Tyus Fieds of Hough HS in Charlotte, NC
A huge list of 2018’s, some 2019’s and maybe a 2020 or two is expected in Tiger Town this weekend for Clemson's second Junior Day. I got a message tonight from Tyus Fields of Charlotte, NC, brother of current Clemson DB Mark Fields, that he was coming down with a teammate.
This will mark the second Junior Day event in less than a month, and the staff is taking full advantage of any chance to showcase the new facility to potential Tigers of the future. The staff has never had more to sell and offer. Added to that, spring practice will be in full effect here on campus, and there will be a lot of eye candy between practice. Prospects will be able to see how this team and staff practices and trains, how they unwind in the new football facility and, of course, take in all that is the Clemson football program and its university.
All sorts of new offers have been dispensed in the past few weeks, like the one to Payton Wilson, the linebacker out of North Carolina, who is now attending this weekend following up on that offer. He's a player to keep a eye on and see how things develop out of this weekend.
The staff has a huge weekend planned, and we expect a treasure trove of players from IMG Academy and Grayson. We will release a stellar list of confirmed visitors later this week, so STAY TUNED! “The best is yet to come..."
****New 2018 RB in the Mix
Clemson has invited a 2018 running back to Junior Day this weekend. Master Teague is a player that is blowing up with offers dropping all over the place. His latest was tendered by Auburn, a school that covets RB’s and has always recruited at a high level at the position. Now the Tigers of Clemson are starting to show interest and have invited the young ball carrier out of Virginia down this weekend as part of their big Junior Days event.
This is a huge development because the Clemson staff is looking at other RB options for the 2018 class after recently losing some ground on priority target Zamir White. I can tell you this could lead to a potential offer if all pans out like it has for Teague in recent trips he has taken. Stay tuned here, as we monitor this fast-moving development in the 2018 RB class!
****2018 WR Class
IMG WR Brian Hightower is one of a very select few with a Clemson WR offer in 2018
With only 2 slots available in the 2018 WR class, the offers to join the Tigers as the next member of WRU are few and far between here in early 2017. The staff has already taken on Derion Kendrick, who was pegged for one of these slots, leaving the lone spot left on the staff's board.
So that leaves the staff with offers out to the following WR’s in the 2018 class to vie for that lone spot:
Clemson still has an offer on the table for Brian Hightower, who is expected to be in town this weekend along with Clemson 2018 commit Mike Jones Jr. and his other IMG teammates, but he has the Tigers dropping on his list and Miami rising as of our last check. But nothing can change a kid's mind quicker than a trip to the new Football Disney World that is the Clemson Footballs Ops Center and a word from Dabo Swinney and his staff of ace recruiters.
We actually had the chance to scout and Interview Brian at the IMG vs. Grayson game early in the 2016 season:
Hightower is a physical freak and match up nightmare. In that game against Grayson, he was repeatedly able to use his size to win battle after battle against South Carolina 4-star DB signee Jameyest Williams, and IMG defeated Grayson and Clemson QB commit Chase Brice on that evening.
Stay tuned here, as we think things will crank back up fast after Hightower visits this weekend.
EDIT: Hightower unexpectedly committed to Miami on Wednesday. This likely means he will not be visiting this weekend. However, there's still a long way to go until NSD, so don't count WRU out of this one yet--especially with Mike Jones, Jr. in his ear every day at IMG!
Jacob Copeland is a player we have yet to get a good read on with regard to Clemson, and we're waiting to see when this big-tme WR makes his way up to Tiger Town for a visit. He did attend Dabo's camp last summer, as seen in the photo above. The offer alone says a lot about the type of talent here. And if you look at his current offer list, you can see why the Tigers did not shy in throwing their name into the hat. We just have to see if they can get him on campus again to get a better read. Currently, he has in-state FSU and Florida in his top 3 along with Alabama.
Jahan Dotson is my personal favorite of these WR offers. He's a playmaker with wiggle and speed. Get the ball to him in space, and look out. Just what Clemson and WR coach Jeff Scott covet, a player he can just plug in after the acclimation period and watch grow inside this offense that is custom-made for talent that mirrors Dotson’s skill set. Dotson was in Pennsylvania before transferring to the Peddie School in New Jersey, where he spent last season as a teammate of 2017 Clemson OL signee Noah DeHond. That's a feather in the Tigers' cap, as Noah is in Dotson’s ear all day when it come to the Tigers!
Jordyn Adams is a South Carolina prep product who just recently moved to NC to join his father Deke Adams, who just became a part of the UNC staff. Adams was pegged as the front-runner for that 2nd WR spot. However, with his father on the staff at UNC and his proximity there, things are still in play with the Tigers but not as hot as they were back at the end of the 2016 season. At one point, we thought a commitment may have been imminent, but that was when his father was still on the East Carolina staff.
Lastly, there is the Tigers' lone WR commit, 4-star athlete Derion Kendrick out of Rock Hill, SC, the state’s top player in 2018 and a freak of an athlete that will plug right into the Clemson offense. It says a lot that this staff, which covets only the best WR’s in the nation, had this offer held for Kendrick in particular, as he was #1 on the staff’s WR board for 2018.
****5-Star Xavier Thomas Announces Decision Date and Will Enroll Early
IMG Academy priority target and #1 DE in the nation Xavier Thomas, the #7 overall player in the Scout 300 for 2018, announced via twitter this week that he intends to commit on his birthday, December 20th, and that he will be enrolling two weeks later at the school of his choice.
It remains a Clemson vs South Carolina battle at this time, with the arrow currently pointing towards the Tigers with a long way to go. Thomas will be in Clemson again this Saturday along with his IMG teammates on a whirlwind weekend tour through the southeast visiting schools. They will also visit South Carolina on this trip and let Xavier see what the gang in Columbia has been up to since his last visit. And with XT, it's always the freshest memory he seems to favor. Expect nothing but good things to come out of his visit to Columbia, and then things will be status quo after his strip into Tiger Town on Saturday. as the tug of war between the Tigers and Gamecocks continues for one of the most sought-after players in the nation.
****Elite OT to Visit Clemson
We have gathered intel that Jack Carman, arguably the nation's top tackle out of Ohio, plans to visit Clemson in late March to take in a spring practice. The word is he will make the trip down to Pickens County on March 24th to see the Tigers in action as they continue to work at Jervey Meadows. We'll continue to monitor Carman's recruitment and will reach out to get his thoughts on Clemson for you, so stay tuned!
****This Week's Tweets