Who's Left? What's Next?

CLEMSON - With National Signing Day less than 24 hours away, CUTigers takes a look at the remaining targets on the board and what comes next in the crazy world of recruiting.

With less than 24 hours remaining until National Signing Day, the Clemson coaching staff has already completed the bulk of its work for the 2009 recruiting class.

By now most prospects know where they are likely headed, even if they have yet to announce their decision.

And while some fans will be disappointed with the low numbers of this year's group, this class will actually rank higher than any other class Clemson has signed since Scout.com started publishing rankings in 2002, in terms of average star ranking,

Oddly enough, it's not even close.

This year's average star ranking of 3.64 is higher than last year's 3.35 rating, when the Tigers signed the No. 11 recruiting class in the country.

With six of Clemson's 11 verbal commitments ranked four stars or higher, including the No. 4 quarterback in the country Tajh Boyd, this year's class will is not big, but it does offer plenty of bang for the buck.

It also blows away any other class signed in recent memory, again in terms of star average, as Clemson's 2007 average star ranking was 3.13, 3.20 in 2006, 2.96 in 2005, 2.26 in 2004, 2.83 in 2003 and 2.85 in 2002.

And yes, the staff would have preferred to sign a larger class. Another five or six quality prospects would provide additional insurance in the coming years, especially if those prospects have elite-level potential.

At the same time, with the mid-year coaching change, and the four prospects who decommitted shortly after Tommy Bowden resigned on Oct. 13, the fact this staff was able to secure verbal commitments from many elite level players should not be ignored.

In addition, it is important to point out two four-star prospects who should be signing with Clemson tomorrow, will be unable to even after verbally committing to to the coaching staff. Leon Mackey and Eric Fields, both considered four star prospects by Scout.com, are out of the mix for the Tigers as things stand Tuesday afternoon.

Mackey, who publicly committed earlier this month, was unable to sign with an ACC school without losing a year of eligibility after originally signing his letter of intent with Virginia Tech a year ago before enrolling at Hargrave Military Academy.

The four-star defensive lineman has essentially been forced to go elsewhere and will likely end up playing his college football at South Carolina.

Sources tell CUTigers behind the scenes work is being done to allow him to make it in to Clemson without sitting out a season, but at best that appears to be an uphill battle and at the present moment he's headed to the University of South Carolina.

Meanwhile Fields turned out be unsignable due to his academic situation and will sign with no school on Wednesday.

While both situations are essentially out of the hands of the Clemson staff, the likely losses of both prospects will undoubtely be felt in Clemson's final Scout.com team rankings.

But even then, all is not lost. With everything mentioned above, the 2009 recruiting class still has the opportunity to close with a bang on National Signing Day.

Here's a look at some of the major prospects still on the board entering what should be the conclusion of the 2009 recruiting class, barring any last-second surprises:

Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee

Kelly visited all four schools officially, including a late trip to Tennessee this past weekend, but on the surface this appears to be a Clemson/Alabama battle more than anything else. His relationship with Tigers' head coach Dabo Swinney is one of the key factors working in Clemson's favor as he gets set for his announcement Wednesday afternoon at Gadsden City High School in Alabama.

RECRUITERS TO CLEMSON: Dabo Swinney, Jeff Scott
Ole Miss, Clemson

Simon is more of a mystery than anything else simply because he's been unreachable for interviews for weeks. What we do know is that high school coach has maintained Simon is still committed to Mississippi, but still thinking hard about Clemson. Could this be Clemson's 2009 signing day surprise?

RECRUITERS TO CLEMSON: Dabo Swinney, Andre Powell
Clemson, Troy

After receiving a Clemson offer this weekend during his official visit, Clemson is likely the team to beat for services of the three-star standout, who is also teammates with four-star wide receiver Kendall Kelly. Keep in mind he'll play on the defensive side of the ball in Tigertown as an end.

Miami, Oregon, Clemson, Auburn

The nation's No. 1 prospect according to Scout.com, remains a soft verbal to Miami, even though rumors have circulated in recent weeks that Oregon has moved into the driver's seat. While his recruitment has remained somewhat a mystery, Clemson is indeed squarely in contention, as confirmed by a source close to Brown to CUTigers Sunday evening. What happens from here remains to be seen, but as things stand now, Brown will not sign with any school on Wednesday as his recruitment continues on for at least another four weeks.

RECRUITERS TO CLEMSON: Chris Rumph, Billy Napier

* Kendall Kelly and Darrell Smith are set to announce their decision at 2:30 Eastern Time at their school on ESPN-U.

Scout.com's Andrew Bone will be on had to provide live coverage of the event for CUTigers subscribers as well.

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