CLEMSON - The Clemson coaching staff will welcome four four-star prospects, three that are uncommitted, to campus this weekend for official visits. Could the Tigers get back on track to a nationally ranked recruiting class with a verbal commitment or two?
With a new head coach in place and a new coaching staff coming together, the Clemson Tigers are now in position to become aggressive once again on the recruiting scene and it all gets started this weekend.
Clemson will host four four-star prospects, including three early enrollees in DB Jonathan Meeks, RB Onterio McCalebb, DT Leon Mackey as well as Minnesota native WR Bryce McNeal.
Here's a quick look on what to expect from this talented foursome:
S Jonathan Meeks [6-2/185] ()
With the departure of Mike Hamlin and Chris Clemons after this season, safety is of prime importance in the 2009 recruiting class.
The good news is the Tigers signed two top safeties a year ago in Spencer Adams and Rashard Hall but the bad news is Adams blew out his knee in early October and neither has played a down of college football yet.
Meeks, who was considered a Division II prospect during his senior season at Rock Hill High School (S.C.) has seen his stock soar after getting his academics in order and demonstrating elite level skills during his brief time at Hargrave.
Simply put, he'd be a huge pick up for the staff not only because of his talent, but also because he'd enroll in January and be available for spring practice at a position of need for the 2009 season.
Meeks currently boasts offers from Florida, Tennessee, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, and Kansas among others and has also already taken official visits to North Carolina.
With Meeks wanting early playing time in his college career, the Tigers are squarely in contention. North Carolina and Florida are also two other schools to watch here.
Helping UNC's cause are two Tar Heel pledges, who are currently his teammates – A.J. Blue and Kevin Reddick.
Helping the Tigers' cause is the fact he visited Clemson unofficially for the South Carolina game and came away very impressed.
"I was told I would have a chance to play early. They need safeties. That helps a lot in my book," Meeks told CUTigers.com in a recent interview.
Clemson quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Billy Napier is recruiting and has been a quiet force here for the last couple of weeks- both with Meeks and a number of other of his Hargrave teammates, including DL Leon Mackey and RB Onterio McCalebb, who are also visiting this weekend.
DL Leon Mackey [6-5/260] ()
With the losses of two starters in the interior of Clemson's defensive line next year in Rashaad Jackson and Dorrel Scott, the Clemson coaching staff would love to land a player like Leon Mackey, another Hargrave prospect who will be in town this weekend for an official visit.
Mackey was an originally a commitment to Virginia Tech last year before enrolling in the prestigious military academy and the Hokies figure to be a factor in his recruitment this year as well.
Mackey has already taken official visits to Arkansas and N.C. State and has been contemplating a trip to Athens, Ga. to check out the Bulldogs.
Georgia, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Arkansas figure to be the biggest factors here, with North Carolina also in the mix as well.
Mackey's recruitment is intriguing to say the least as his trip to Clemson this weekend may be the last official visit he takes in the recruiting process.
He expects to make an announcement by Christmas Day.
WR Bryce McNeal [6-2/185] ()
Looking to sign at least two wide receivers in the 2009 class, the Clemson coaching staff will focus its attention on Minnesota native Bryce McNeal this weekend when he steps on campus for the first time for his official visit.
Also a four-star prospect, McNeal is currently ranked as the No. 27 wide receiver in the country according to Scout.com.
Speaking to CUTigers.com this week, McNeal said, "I want to see the school and the atmosphere and see how things work at Clemson."
McNeal has already taken four official visits, meaning his trip to Clemson will indeed be his last of the recruiting process. He also visited Colorado in October, in addition to Oklahoma, Oregon and Minnesota in November.
Clemson wide receivers coach Jeff Scott is recruiting McNeal for the Tigers and the two hit it off in a trip Scott made to Minnesota just last week.
"I like him a lot," McNeal said. "He is a real cool guy. I wouldn't mind playing for him. He cares about his players and he wants to make sure you graduate and that's my goal."
The four-star wide out would be a critical pick up for Clemson considering both Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham will play in their last game next month when the Tigers face Nebraska in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.
RB Onterio McCalebb [6-0/175] ()
Clemson has long been involved with four-star running back Onterio McCalebb, a current soft verbal commitment to Auburn, but this weekend the Tigers from the Palmetto State will have a chance to make a lasting impression when he visits Tigertown in an official capacity.
McCalebb told Scout.com earlier today, "I'm hearing from USF, Ole Miss, Clemson, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Alabama. All of them have offered I'm going to take a visit this weekend to Clemson and possibly to Alabama on January 9th."
The Clemson coaching staff already has one verbal commitment at running back this year in Rod McDowell. McDowell is a three-star prospect and the No. 1 running back in South Carolina.
Ideally the staff would like to sign two.
Clemson assistant coach Chris Rumph is McCalebb's main recruiter to Tigertown.
While McCalebb has been committed to Auburn since high school, with Tommy Tuberville resigning under pressure earlier this month those plans have been tentatively put on hold.
"I'm just waiting to see who they hire and what kind of offense they'll be running," McCalebb said. "There are different coaches that are coming in and I'll see who they choose before making a decision."
South Florida and Alabama will also be factors.
While verbal commitments are usually hard to forecast, it would not be out of the question for the Tigers to land one this weekend. The Clemson coaching staff has been heavily involved with the Hargrave prospects for quite some time and with Meeks being a South Carolina native and with all three looking to enroll early, there is more of a sense of urgency with these three than with McNeal, who plans to announce at the U.S. Army All-American game next month.