Dabo Swinney knows his team's work with the 2014 class isn't done yet.
CLEMSON, S.C. — Three weeks from now, young men across America will put pen to paper, slip national letters of intent into fax machines and make college football coaches and fans very happy—or, in some cases, very disappointed.
We’re in the homestretch for college football’s 2014 recruiting class, with many programs already working hard on the 2015 class (and beyond).
Work remains for everyone in the 2014 class, and Clemson is no different. The Tigers have a small class, with only 18 verbal commitments. That’s by design: Clemson graduated only 11 scholarship players this season, which left a young roster.
Even with the early departures of wide receivers Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins and cornerback Bashaud Breeland for the NFL (and with defensive end Vic Beasley expected to decide on Wednesday, which is the deadline for juniors to do so), Dabo Swinney and his staff have very few spots left in the 2014 class.
However, the Tigers are still locked in on targets on make a class that 247Sports rates as the nation’s No. 16 class even better. Over the next three weeks, Clemson will focus on a handful of recruits at “need” positions to put a finishing touch on the 2014 recruiting class.
Here are the Tigers’ priority recruits as this recruiting cycle winds down.
Trevion Thompson would be an excellent addition to Clemson's wide receiver class.
Wide receiver was a huge priority for Clemson in this class. With Watkins and Bryant departing and junior Charone Peake recovering from a torn ACL that forced him to redshirt the 2013 season, the Tigers’ wideout corps was a bit thin.
This spring, rising senior Adam Humphries and rising sophomores Mike Williams, Germone Hopper and T.J. Green will be the only healthy returning receivers. In addition, a trio of 4-star early enrollees in Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott will be on hand to mesh with their new teammates.
But Swinney and wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott would love to add another fresh face to that mix this fall. Thompson, a 6’3”, 188-pound 4-star prospect from Durham, N.C., is the best target. He is rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 22 wide receiver prospect.
He combines excellent speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) with good size.
He will visit Clemson this weekend and West Virginia next weekend, and he is also considering Ohio State, N.C. State and North Carolina.
If the Tigers can get Thompson in the fold, he would be a tremendous late-class addition.
Defensive end Andrew Williams is a priority recruit for Clemson as the 2014 class winds down.
With Beasley mulling his NFL fate and fellow starting end Corey Crawford entering his senior season, Clemson has a need for pass-rushing ends. Rising sophomore Shaq Lawson was a freshman All-American, and redshirting freshman Ebenezer Ogundeko was highly regarded, but defensive end remains a priority.
Enter Williams, who is a 6’4”, 247-pound prospect from McDonough, Ga. He is a 4-star prospect, according to 247Sports, which rates him was the nation’s No. 12 weak-side defensive end prospect.
He is solidly built and does well at the line of scrimmage, using his hands to free himself from blockers and harass quarterbacks with excellent speed.
Williams is also considering Auburn and Ole Miss. If he signs with Clemson, he’d be a great addition to the class while also giving Clemson a measure of revenge.
A year ago, the Tigers had commitments from a pair of talented ends in Robert Nkemdiche (the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2013 class) and Elijah Daniel. Nkemdiche wound up at Ole Miss, and Daniel went to Auburn. In addition, Clemson lost out on 5-star end Carl Lawson, who picked Auburn instead.
Swaying Williams from an SEC program could carry extra meaning. He is scheduled to visit Auburn this weekend, Ole Miss next weekend and Clemson on Jan. 31.
Defensive lineman Cory Thomas would be an excellent late addition to Clemson's class.
Like Williams, Thomas would be an excellent addition to the 2014 class to bolster defensive end depth. He can play end or defensive tackle and has good size, quickness and athleticism.
He stands 6’6”, 270 pounds and hails from McCalla, Ala. He is a 3-star prospect who is rated as the nation’s No. 24 strong-side defensive end prospect by 247Sports.
He is committed to Tennessee but will visit Clemson this weekend, Mississippi State next weekend and UT on Jan. 31. Snagging Thomas’ commitment would be a solid finish to Clemson’s class.
J.C. Jackson is a very talented two-way athlete in the 2014 class.
Jackson is a two-way athlete from Immokalee, Fla., the same high school that produced 2013 Clemson cornerback signee Mackensie Alexander. Jackson stands 5’10”, 180 pounds and has excellent speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.
He is a 4-star prospect who is rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 19 wide receiver prospect. As a senior, he had 31 receptions for 862 yards and 14 touchdowns, adding 53 tackles and two interceptions as a cornerback.
He is committed to Florida but is reportedly reconsidering that commitment and also considering Florida State and Miami. He will visit Florida this weekend and Florida State on Jan. 31. He has already visited Miami and has another official visit left, but he has no destination on Jan. 24. There are no current indications that he is considering a Clemson visit, but if the Tigers could get him on campus, there’s always a chance with Swinney and Co.