DL Phillip Merling
6-5, 270, 4.7
Fork Union Military Academy
Fork Union, Virginia
NR: 20 Rating: ****
The Stats: Phillip Merling brought in 25 passes, including six touchdowns playing as a tight end this past season for Fork Union Military Academy. Defensively, playing as an end, he had eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss. As a high school senior at Cordova High School in Tennessee, Merling caught 22 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown during his senior season. Merling chose the Tigers over South Carolina and Arkansas after his senior season, and after enrolling at Fork Union in 2004, he never wavered in his commitment to Clemson.
Strength: Merling is another prospect signed by Clemson that fits the "jumbo athlete" designation. He offers the Clemson coaching staff multiple options once he arrives on campus. He could stay as a tight end, or move over to the defensive line.
Why Clemson? "I like the new coaches a lot, they are real nice," said Merling. "I think they have big plans for the future. I got to meet with both of the coordinators when I went there on my official visit and they both talked about me playing both ways. I like that. I will probably have some options once I get there as far as what position I play."
Prep School Coach Says: "He was interested in going anywhere other than Clemson," said Fork Union Head Coach John Shuman. "Merling was the best player on my team this season and he was one of our best players. He is a good tight end and also played good at defensive end. He is a good team leader and a great tackler. To be honest with you, he is way ahead of everybody. He will be an inside guy. I think he could be like an Eric Coleman. He has great speed. He's a fast pace guy."
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