What We are Hearing...Recruiting

Updates on the Tigers' recruiting board on the offensive line, wide receiver, the defensive line, and also some various tidbits about some "sign and place" candidates, as well as what to expect out some of the most highly contested prospects coming down the stretch, including James Thompson.

* As we've maintained for the last several weeks, the Clemson coaching staff is focused primarily on two more targets on the offensive line. Sumter's James Thompson and Wando's Barry Richardson are the only prospects on the offensive line still in serious consideration by assistant coach Ron West and recruiting coordinator David Blackwell. Thompson, a 4-star prospect, is player whose family is split between South Carolina and Clemson, and even though he's listing Clemson as his current leader, look for a fierce battle to develop down the stretch between the Gamecocks, Tigers, and also the Florida State Seminoles. Thompson's situation is too close to call, but you can expect a full-court press from both South Carolina and Clemson coming down the stretch.

Richardson is highly coveted by the Clemson coaching staff and could very well be wearing orange next season. We were told that most of the staff feels as though he's the literally the biggest prospect to come out of the Palmetto State in more than 5 years.

The bottomline here: the Tigers will land at least one of these two prospects.

* Two of the more talented prospects at the Shrine Bowl on the defensive side of the ball, Lamar's Mike Hamlin and Northwestern's C.J. Barber. From what we've been told, and from what we've confirmed in our interviews, Hamlin to Clemson appears to be getting close to a reality. Barber on the other hand is not. South Carolina and Clemson are facing off in a dead heat coming down the stretch. One key with Barber that is often forgotten in the recruitment of Barber is that his good friend, Jonathan Joseph, a JUCO transfer that has already signed his letter of intent to go to USC. Sources close to Barber say it's 50-50 between the two in-state schools.

* Jacksonville's Mike McIntosh remains a top target of the Clemson coaching staff, and it appears that the Tigers have made up a tremendous amount of ground. From what we've been told, McIntosh will likely decide between Clemson and Florida when all the dust settles.

* As far as the other wide receiver positions are concerned, Aaron Kelly and Jamar Bryant are right behind McIntosh in the eyes of the coaching staff. Boiling Springs wide out Brooks Foster would be behind both of those talented athletes.

* Willingboro's Ell Ash is a primary target for the Tigers on the defensive line, but don't be surprised to see him move over to offensive tackle, should he sign with the Tigers. The coaching staff at Clemson apparently likes his athleticism and quickness, and feels that he could be better suited on offense.

* With the loss of Donnell Washington to the NFL, the Tigers could over sign on the defensive line, should the situation present itself. Originally, it was thought that as many as 5 prospects could be signed on the D-Line (including Cory Groover), but now that number could increase to 6, or even 7 we've been told in an extreme scenario.

* From what we've learned recently, several prospects look like they could be a "sign and place" for the Tigers this year. Apparently, the coaching staff at Clemson and the coaching staff at Southwest Mississippi Junior College have developed a strong relationship the last few years. That relationship was only strengthened with the signing of Cory Groover from SWJC this past month. Phillip Morris still appears to be on that track, and the Tigers will also look to possibly place Lake View running back Vernell Jones.

* Finally, not only will the strong finish to the 2003 season play an important role in the recruitment of prospects to Clemson for the 2004 class, but you can bet it will also help bring in some of the top kids in the country to Clemson this summer for the Tigers' annual football camps. On many occasions, the Clemson coaches use their football camps to evaluate and offer potential prospects.

A four game winning streak to end the season, with three of those coming on national television, is already paying dividends for the 2005 recruiting class.

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