Former 5-star Recruits Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State) and Deshaun Watson (Clemson) embrace after the Tigers' 31-0 Fiesta Bowl Playoff win. Both players were recruited by Clemson, choosing different paths, and both recently heard their names called in the NFL Draft.
****The NFL Draft and Its Impact on Clemson Recruiting
Clemson had yet another big day during this year's 2017 NFL Draft held in the “City of Brotherly Love” of Philadelphia, PA. The Clemson brand was represented well by Watson and the Clemson entourage that included Coach Dabo Swinney and Co-Offensive Coordinator Jeff Scott along with Watson’s family, who were all in attendance to witness the event. The Tigers again placed first round talent in the draft not once but twice, as Mike Williams went 7th overall to the Los Angeles Chargers and the Houston Texans traded up to pick Deshaun Watson 12th overall. Clemson made NFL Draft history, becoming the first school with a QB/WR tandem taken in the first 12 picks since the common draft began in 1967!
The rest of the Tigers' draft class was also well represented, as Clemson saw CB Codrea Tankersley, DT Carlos Watkins, RB Wayne Gallman and TE Jordan Leggett all selected. Only 7 schools had more draft picks than the Tigers' 6. All of the aforementioned players were at one time high 3-star to 5-star talent on their respective high school football fields at one time. And a couple of them--Gallman and Leggett--were projects that needed to grow and develop into their college positions during their Clemson careers.
So much can be said of the Clemson staff and its ability to see the potential of a player they recruit out of his position, selling him on that and developing him into a player that ends up in the NFL. No bigger display of this can be seen than by looking down I-85 into Atlanta to the NFL sack leader, Vic Beasley, who also came to Clemson with the staff selling him on DE instead of the TE and RB offers he had all over the map as a high school recruit. T.J. Green was a WR whose best offer was from UAB, and the Clemson staff converted him into a good enough safety to declare early and be drafted by the Colts. Speaking of DB's, Clemson can be considered in the running for "DBU" in addition to "WRU." Since 2005, only LSU, Ohio State and Alabama have seen more DB's drafted by the NFL. Cordrea Tankersley is the 16th from Clemson in that span. It would seem one of Dabo's favorite mantras--iron sharpens iron--is perfectly demonstrated by the WR and DB talent the Tigers are pouring into the NFL these days.
In addition to the draftees, the Tigers also sent 4 others to NFL camps on free agent deals. Ben Boulware, Jadar Johnson, Artavis Scott and Nick Schuessler all received free agent contracts from NFL teams to come to training camp and compete for spots on their 48-man rosters.
Clemson coaches can point to the past four to five drafts, and you can see how the Tigers have matched up with the big boys of college football, and it can also open your eyes as to why the Clemson program has been so successful in recent years. They have developed the top-tier talent and combined it with the “under-the-radar” or " diamond-in-the-rough” players, molding them into NFL talent. Again, the likes of Grady Jarrett and Adam Humphries come to mind.
The NFL Draft has turned into a marketing coup for the Tigers from Clemson as of late, and it reverberates well on the recruiting trails. Add all that to the Clemson momentum from last year's National Title, and you have heard me say it before: the best is yet to come in this 2018 class. This draft is just another layer to the recruiting cake Clemson has to offer its targets.
****Big DT McNeil Talks Tiger Town Visit
DL Coach Todd Bates with McNiell and Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables
Big-time Tar Heel State product and highly sought-after prospect Alim McNeill made another trip into Clemson this past weekend and brought the family along to let them all see what he has seen and what the National Champs have to offer.
McNeil, who is literally picking up offers as he gets up out of bed in the past week, has offers from Florida, FSU, Louisville, Michigan, Penn St, Tennessee, VT, UNC, Duke and NC State all in the hat for now. But it seems the Tigers of Clemson and the back-to-back Defending ACC Champs have a real allure for the North Carolina trench-man.
McNeill was back in the upstate after a previous visit in April, this time to receive the Orange Carpet treatment and the one-on-one time he missed on his last trip to town. We spoke with the monster out of of Sanderson, and here is what he had to say about his latest trip to Tiger Town.
CU: How was the weekend visit to Clemson?
AM: "Everything about the visit was great!"
CU: Which coaches escorted you around on the visit?
AM: "I was with coach Bates and Coach Venables."
CU: Are you planning a return visit in the next few weeks? Will you camp at Clemson?
AM: "I plan to come back next month for camp, which will be great."
CU: If you had to compare yourself to anyone currently in the NFL or college football or model your game after, who would that be?
AM: "I compare myself to no one. I want to create my own game and identity."
****Big-Time 2018 WR Names Clemson in Top Finalists
Clemson has now ascended to the top group for their two top targets on the WR board for 2018 now that Lone Start State WR Brennan Eagles has included the Tigers in his top 10. This after a recent visit to Tiger Town with his mom while they were in the area for a skills camp stop in Atlanta.
The Tigers benefited greatly from this visit and have positioned themselves for a return visit after Eagles and family really enjoyed their brief stop in Clemson. We are told Eagles is making plans to return soon, so keep your eyes on the July All In Cookout as a potential target date for his next visit.
Eagles is an intriguing prospect when you watch him on film. He's smooth and polished as a route runner with the size to compete for contested balls in space with any DB on the field.
****New DE Offer in Peach State
Clemson reached next door into the Peach State and into the northern Atlanta suburb of Marietta, GA to offer DE/LB hybrid Azeez Ojulari, a player who is tearing up the spring skills cap circuits and grabbing up offers by the day. You may recall we reported to you that he was on campus about a month ago to watch the Tigers practice (see photos above). Ojulari already has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan State, VT, GT, NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest and South Carolina.
Now you can add the National Champs, as the Tigers have extend an offer to join their banner 2018 class, and it's an intriguing offer at that. With the lone DE spot out there for the likes of K.J. Henry, Micah Parsons and a host of others, the Tigers have now added Azeez to this mix. Stay tuned, as things may be about to get very interesting on the DE board for 2018!
****Nike’s Charlotte Regional Opening
Nike will have its annual “The Opening” Regional Finals in Charlotte this Sunday, the 7th of May, and CUTigers.com will be on site to bring you full coverage! We will release an attendee list on Friday when it is released to us, and we will report with photos, videos and interviews from the event. A stellar all-star roster is expected for this event, so stay tuned!
CUTigers will be on site with the rest of the Scout team, collecting intel and all the little nuggets of info we can find for you. Stay tuned next week for a feature on the event and the Clemson targets attending and competing!
Clemson 2017 WR Signee and Nike Opening Alum Amari Rodgers