The Ones that Got Away

The 2002 signing class at Clemson promises to be a great one, but like every year, there are those one or two prospects that get away. Here's a look at some of the players that could have promising careers at other schools. Some of the names might surprise you.

Maybe this is an usual article on signing day, but I think its worth mentioning some of the kids that slipped through the cracks this year. I'm not talking about the all-world athletes like Lorenzo Booker, Marcus Vick, or Pat Watkins; those guys are on everybody's list.

I'm talking about those kids closer to home, the kids that the Tigers will face over the course of the next 4 years, and the first player on the list might surprise you, it is WR Mario Raley.

Raley set the North Carolina record books on fire this past season for Charlotte's Independence High School, but the Clemson coaching staff frowned upon a slow 40 time recorded over the summer in Chapel Hill. He was never seriously on the Tigers' board after that.

Raley went on to commit to the Georgia Bulldogs in January, so you know that he'll be fired up whenever the Tigers and Dawgs battle it out over the upcoming seasons. Especially since he was favoring Clemson for such a long time.

And although he may not be the world's fastest receiver, but he'll be a factor before its all said and done with in the SEC. Call it a hunch on Raley.

Next on our list is OL Chris White, out of Chester High School in Chester, South Carolina.

White is considered by many to be the top offensive line prospect in the state. At 6'5, he's quick on his feet and weighs in close to 300 lbs right now. Chris saw his stock steadily rise over the last half of the season as he routinely handled defenders with ease and impressed scouts with his strength and quickness at the Shrine Bowl.

In terms of a decision, it came down to the very end with White, but ultimately, he went to the Gamecocks. Without question, he'll be a good one down in Columbia before his career is over, and my hat goes off to Coach Lou Holtz and his staff.

Finally, DB Fred Bennett, one of the top defensive backs in the southeast also decided to go to Carolina. Bennett is a great defensive back that will grow into his athletic frame while he's in college. He also has great hands, outstanding speed, and good instincts on the football field.

Bennett, out of Manning High School, was a hard Clemson lean throughout the fall until he suddenly developed a serious change of heart in early January. And in a year where the Tigers focused on bringing in top-notch athletes in the secondary, Bennett would have been a great addition.

But don't get me wrong, the Tigers have done extremely well this year, and if don't know that by now, you haven't been doing your homework.

Head Coach Tommy Bowden was able to land several bigtime recruits to replace these athletes, and you know the names I'm talking about. Jeff Francouer, Buddy Williams, Roman Fry, and Dustin Fry are all capable athletes that will have stellar careers wearing Clemson orange.

Still, doesn't part of you want to add one more of the guys we missed out on to complete the "total package" recruiting class?

The true Clemson fan can never be satisfied I guess.

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