Clemson Football: Examining Which Stud 2013 Recruits Dabo Swinney Must Land
Thanks to the commitment of the undisputed No. 1 player in the nation, Robert Nkemdiche, Clemson is one of the hottest teams on the recruiting trail in 2013.
When Nkemdiche signed, it created a shockwave through the recruiting ranks, as many other top athletes have taken notice and interest in Clemson.
A recruit as talented as Nkemdiche can make a recruiting class a good one, but Dabo Swinney and the Tigers aren't looking for good, so more players are needed to make this class great.
The senior class isn't all that big for Clemson, so there aren't a ton of immediate needs, but there are a few slots Swinney and his staff will need to fill.
Here are the big fish Swinney will need to land to make this a truly elite class.
1. Robert Nkemdiche: Defensive End
Yes, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is already committed to Clemson.
But, this is major college football recruiting, not the priesthood, and the commitment of a high school senior doesn't always stick—especially when one is as highly touted as Nkemdiche is.
Clemson is already doing everything in its power to keep the nation's top player on its side.
The Tigers had already accepted commitments from two of Nkemdiche's Grayson High School teammates, David Kamara and Wayne Gallman.
Now, according to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they may have locked down the Loganville, Georgia native by taking in Mississippi State transfer Nick Schuessler, who was Nkemdiche's teammate and the state title-winning quarterback at Grayson last year.
This also removes MSU as a contender to flip Nkemdiche, as that removes his link to the Bulldogs.
However, don't count out Ole Miss, where Robert's brother, linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche still plays. If their parents have anything to say about it, Robert could end up as a Rebel as well.
Also, recruiting juggernauts LSU and Alabama who were in the running for Nkemdiche cannot be forgotten.
In order for this class to truly be complete, the Tigers must keep their crown jewel, not just because he is the top player in the class, but because he will also fill a need at defensive end after senior Malliciah Goodman departs following this season.
2. Vonn Bell: Safety
Now, on to the players who aren't yet committed, starting with Vonn Bell.
Clemson must dip into the Peach State once again to pull in this All-American safety to fill what will be a big need at the end of this season.
The Tigers are set to lose three safeties, Jonathan Meeks, Xavier Brewer and Rashard Hall, after this year. They did bring in one of the top safeties in the country last year in Travis Blanks, but Bell should provide some much needed depth.
Fortunately, according to Kipp Adams of ESPN.com, Clemson is very much in the running for the Ridgeland High School standout.
"Vonn Bell made contact with the following schools, Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and Clemson, and told them they were on his short list of schools that he will commit to," said Ridgeland High School head coach Mark Mariakas. "By Labor Day he will cut this list down to two schools and go from there with the process. This list is in no order."
It will be interesting to see if Swinney can pull yet another elite recruit away from a formidable list of suitors.
If he can, it will be probably be the second-biggest recruiting coup of this class for Clemson.
3. Derrick Green: Running Back
Once you make it past the headache-inducing blue screen at the beginning of this highlight video, you'll see just why Derrick Green has received offers from every corner of the continental United States.
The Richmond, Virginia native literally has offers spanning the US including Washington, Southern California, Boston College and Miami (FL), not to mention everywhere in between.
It would be huge for Clemson to keep Green on the east coast, as they will need to replace their star running back recruit from 2011 Mike Bellamy, as well as Andre Ellington, who will be moving on after this season.
At 5'11", 235 pounds, Green already has Division I size and has plenty of speed and quickness to go along with it, which should give Clemson fans flashbacks of former star runner James Davis.
The good news is, according Robert MacRae from TheClemsonInsider.com, Green and Clemson have already expressed a shared mutual interest.
“They want me to get back down there. They tell me I am the top back on their board. Right now they are showing me a lot of love,” said Green...“Right now I don’t know when I will be ready (to make a decision). I still want to visit some schools and continue to build relationships with the coaches."
If Clemson can bring in Green, then they may be on track to bringing in a "Thunder and Lightning" duo in the backfield...
4. Alvin Kamara: Running Back
To summon up its "Lightning," Clemson will have to head back to Georgia.
Much like former Tiger running back C.J. Spiller, Alvin Kamara has a great blend of speed, elusiveness, and power packed into a 5'10", 190 pound frame.
It is clear that the Tigers are being seriously considered by the Norcross, Georgia native, as he made a visit to Clemson over the weekend of July 30.
After the visit, he gave a shout out to the Tigers' star receiver Sammy Watkins in his tweet where he expressed that he apparently enjoyed his visit to the state of South Carolina, despite cracking his iPhone.
Of course, as talented as Kamara is, he has a massive list of suitors.
Probably the two biggest threats to sign Kamara outside of Clemson are Georgia and Alabama. Many consider the Tide to be the leaders for him ever since their nice little gesture of sending him 105 recruiting letters in a single day back in February (via Jamie Newberg, ESPN RecruitingNation).
Now, Swinney has two choices: either warm up the printer and start churning out those letters, or start some sort of "save a tree, send an email" campaign and flood Kamara's inbox, because he should be a huge target for Clemson.
5. Jayron Kearse: Safety/Linebacker
Jayron Kearse is the case in point for why Clemson still needs to work to keep Nkemdiche on its side.
Kearse, of Fort Myers, Florida, has already de-committed twice, first from Auburn then from Miami after making a visit to—you guessed it—Clemson.
Kearse, a former teammate of Clemson's Sammy Watkins at South Fort Myers High School, was previously a quarterback but has moved to wide receiver. Despite all that, he projects as a hybrid saftey-outside linebacker at the next level.
He told Robert MacRae of TheClemsonInsider.com that he enjoyed his visit to CU and was told about the potential for early playing time due to the departures of the safeties. He also liked the fact that Nkemdiche was already aboard.
"I loved the coaches and the way they run the program,” said Kearse. "They just told me about all of the opportunities I would have to do things like early playing time due to the safeties leaving...(Nkemdiche committing) really pumped me up because I was always high on Clemson and now that they got him it really shows the direction Clemson is headed."
Now, Swinney is hoping that will translate into a commitment with the Tigers, and they're hoping that will be his third and final commitment.
6. Marquez North: Wide Receiver
Wide receiver isn't a glaring immediate need for Clemson.
The Tigers will lose Jaron Brown at the end of the season, but they have plenty of youth at receiver between Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant and others.
Still in a spread offense like the one Clemson runs, you can never really have too many receivers.
According to Paul Strelow of 247Sports.com, Clemson is pulling away for the services of 4-star receiver Demarcus Robinson out of Fort Valley, Georgia.
Whether or not Robinson ends up in Death Valley, the Tigers need to look north to Charlotte, North Carolina for another, perhaps even more talented receiver, Marquez North.
North measures up at 6'3", 210 pounds and has blazing speed to boot, as I'm sure you'll be able to tell from his tape above.
Robinson would be a nice get, but North needs to be the bigger receiver target, both literally and figuratively, for the Clemson coaching staff.
7. Montravius Adams: Defensive Tackle
Montravius Adams may be the most highly touted recruit left on Clemson's board, but defensive tackle isn't exactly a huge need, as the oldest DT on the CU roster is a redshirt sophomore.
Nonetheless, Adams is a huge target for the Tigers, whom he has already shown interest in.
Over the weekend of July 1, Adams spent four days in Clemson and, according to 247Sports.com, he will be making a return visit—with his mother.
Obviously things are getting serious for Adams with Clemson, and if his mom signs off, we could see him wearing the purple and orange next year.
This would be a huge commitment for Clemson to be able to team Adams up current defensive end commits Nkemdiche and Elijah Daniel to form one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the country.
8. Tyrone Crowder: Offensive Guard
We haven't heard much out of the Tyrone Crowder camp to this point as far as favorite schools.
One thing we do know is that he is the top offensive lineman on the Clemson board and the board of many other schools.
Clemson has a relatively young offensive line, so this isn't a pressing concern, but depth on the offensive front is always needed no matter who you are, especially when a player like Crowder comes along.
He described his game as "agressive and explosive" in this video interview with ESPN's Dave Hooker.
While the All-American out of Rockingham, North Carolina could stand to brush up on his interview skills (which of course will come with time), there is no doubt that he is one of the best offensive linemen in the country.
Injuries happen constantly on the offensive line, so really no class is complete without the addition to the offensive front.
9. Kendall Fuller: Cornerback
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland has churned out yet another All-American prospect.
This time it's cornerback Kendall Fuller and Clemson is right there in the race for his services.
The Good Counsel football Twitter feed released his top three in June:
Much like top recruits Adams and Crowder, Fuller isn't being brought in to fill an immediate need a corner, where the Tigers are relatively young.
But he is one of those can't-miss prospects who has the "football IQ" to go along with plenty of physical skills.
He isn't the only corner being targeted by Swinney and his staff, but in my mind, he is the one they need to go after.
Clemson has a pretty large list of targets as we are still early in the recruiting season.
Keep an eye on "The Opening" at the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon on July 5-8.
Most, if not all, of the nation's top recruits will be there, including many Clemson targets.
Some players will likely be announcing their decisions while at the camp so lists like this one and others could see some big changes after this week.
What other blue chip recruits would you like to see Swinney try to snare?
Let me know in the comments below!
***A special thanks to the Clemson sports information staff. The official Clemson athletic department website is currently down and under a virtual surgical knife, undergoing some cosmetic upgrades. But, the SIDs at CU responded swiftly to my Tweets and Emails and provided me with every bit of information I requested. Much appreciated, CU staff.
Tweet me: @apsims