Breaking Down Clemson Football's 2014 Recruiting Class
With national signing day less than three weeks away, fans are watching college football recruiting closely. Clemson's 2014 class is ranked 28th by Scout.com and 14th by ESPN.com. This class is not made up of a bunch of recruits but is strong in the sense that it fits the Tigers' needs.
According to this article by OrangeAndWhite.com writer Kerry Capps, Dabo Swinney is pleased with this class: “Numbers-wise we’re in good shape. And we’re almost finished with this class. There’s two or three guys out there we’re working hard on. We’ll see what happens."
In this slideshow, I will break down how each position looks for the Tigers in this recruiting class and how it looks for next year.
It is worth noting that Clemson had five early enrollees who are in school now: Deshaun Watson, Demarre Kitt, Artavis Scott, Chris Register and Kyrin Priester. The other prospects will not be official until signing day, which is February 5. The prospects on this list are committed to Clemson and expected to sign with the Tigers on signing day.
Note: All the stars and rankings are courtesy of Scout.com.
Clemson has one guy at quarterback: Deshaun Watson. He is probably the best recruit in this class.
The Georgia native is rated as the third best at his position and is a 4-star prospect.
As shown in this video, Watson is very dangerous when running the ball, which is a good fit in Clemson's hurry-up offense because of the threat of the quarterback run.
He is very effective in the video of utilizing the play action and making throws out of the pocket.
Watson, who was an early enrollee, will be able to participate in spring practice and compete for the starting job. Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly are the other two quarterbacks, but Swinney made it clear in this article from TigerNet.com that it's an open competition.
This highly touted freshman should be a joy to watch over the next few seasons. Stoudt is gone after this season, but Kelly will be a sophomore this coming year. It will be interesting to see how things shape up at the quarterback position for next season.
This season, the Tigers will look to keep hold of two running backs. It may be three; it's undecided which position C.J. Fuller will play. In this slideshow, I will include him as a cornerback.
Ogelsby is a quick, versatile back who can be dangerous in open space. This video shows how swiftly he hits the hole and how fast he gets to full speed. He can make defenders miss, and the video shows that he can be a threat in the receiving game as well.
Moving forward, the Tigers are stocked at running back for a few seasons. Like the situation at quarterback, it should be a good competition to watch during the summer.
When Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant decided to forgo their senior seasons and enter the draft, it may have made Tigers fans worry.
This class of wide receivers will help fill the need for more playmakers. Coach Swinney did a good job of making sure the need was met at this position.
Kyrin Priester was supposed to come into school last year but was not eligible for initial enrollment, per this article on OrangeAndWhite.com. He was ranked as a 3-star prospect last year. He is already on campus, and he will participate in spring practice and compete for playing time.
Demarre Kitt is a 4-star prospect from Georgia. He had a stellar season in 2012, hauling in 74 catches for 1,235 yards.
Trevion Thompson gives Clemson another addition at wide receiver with his commitment on Sunday, per SB Nation. He is one of the top prospects at his position as the 15th-ranked receiver. At 6'3", the 4-star recruit will give the Clemson QB a big target to throw to.
Bringing in these four guys was a big win for Coach Swinney.
I expect to see all of these guys contribute this year. One or two may redshirt, but it's way too early to speculate which players might.
Smith is rated as a 4-star and is the seventh overall tight end in the class. His big frame could provide a big target for the quarterback.
Richard is a 3-star prospect from Georgia, a state that Clemson seems to recruit well in. The Tigers have five commits from the Peach State. He has football greatness in his blood, as he is the nephew of college football legend Herschel Walker. The 22nd-ranked tight end could be another big target in this Chad Morris offense. He catches a long touchdown in this video.
Morris’ offense is known for its reliance on the tight end. In Morris' first year with the program in 2011, Dwayne Allen had a breakout year and won the Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight end. The following year, Brandon Ford had a great year for the Tigers. He had 12 touchdowns in 14 career starts at Clemson.
The Tigers have some good tight ends on the roster, so I’m not sure how big of a factor Richard and Smith will be next season. Sam Cooper will be a senior, and Stanton Seckinger will be a junior. Seckinger had big touchdown catches against Georgia and Ohio State this season.
Jay Jay McCullough is another guy who will compete for solid playing time, and Jordan Leggett also came on strong in his freshman campaign.
This year, Clemson loses three linemen in Brandon Thomas, Tyler Shatley and Gifford Timothy. They still have some solid big men left though: David Beasley, Ryan Norton, Kalon Davis, Isaiah Battle and Shaq Anthony. They also brought in a 4-star prospect last year in Tyrone Crowder.
The class will look to add two prospects: Taylor Hearn and Justin Falcinelli. Hearn is rated as a 3-star from Williston, South Carolina. The big lineman can be seen in this video above. Falcinelli is a 6’5", 300-pound big man from Maryland. He is also a 3-star who is ranked as the 29th-best offensive guard.
With the Tigers losing three on the line, bringing in at least two was a necessity. Clemson should be fine with this position next year. Battle stepped up late in the season and will try to build off that momentum going into the offseason. Crowder, the highly rated prospect from 2013, should compete for playing time this spring also.
The 2014 class is made up of some good linebackers. Kendall Joseph, Chris Register and Korie Rogers are all committed to the Tigers. Register is already on campus and will take part in spring practice.
The Tigers also have three greyshirt linebacker prospects, which means they will come into school next January.
J.D. and Judah Davis, sons of Clemson great Jeff Davis, are a part of that group. Jalen Williams is the other one who will enroll next January.
Now back to the guys who will be playing for the Tigers next season. Rogers and Register are 4-star prospects and Rogers is seen in the video above. Register is 6’4" and 230 pounds and is being recruited as an outside linebacker.
Joseph, a 3-star commit, is listed as a middle linebacker.
This is a strong group of linebackers coming in, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian were both seniors this past season, and at one time it was thought that Stephone Anthony would enter the draft. He has since stated that he is coming back for his senior season. Tony Steward will be in the mix for playing time next season, along with Ben Boulware and Kellen Jones, among others.
There wasn’t much action in recruiting at this position, as the Tigers don’t have much room for newcomers right now. With almost everyone coming back on the defensive line, Clemson will not sign many defensive line prospects.
Defensive tackle Jabril Robinson is one of those lucky prospects. He is a 3-star commit from North Carolina who didn’t have many offers when Clemson took a shot and offered him. The video above shows highlights from his junior season.
He is a probable redshirt for next season because of the depth at the position. Next year’s defensive line could be one of the best in school history.
All-American Vic Beasley decided this past week that he wants to stay in school for his senior season. Corey Crawford, Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams, Josh Watson and D.J. Reader are just some of the playmakers on the defensive line for the Tigers.
Shaq Lawson also had a successful freshman year and will look to continue that success next season. With other young players like Scott Pagano and Martin Aiken also competing for field time, it will be tough for Robinson to crack the two-deep in his freshman campaign.
The Tigers brought in eight secondary commits last season. T.J. Green switched to wide receiver, but Jayron Kearse played safety after being recruited as an outside linebacker.
That being said, there isn’t much room to bring in a lot of defensive backs this season. The Tigers lose Darius Robinson, who was a senior, as well as Bashaud Breeland, who will enter the NFL draft.
Jefferie Gibson is a 3-star safety in the 2014 class. He is rated as the 108th-best player at his position. In the video above, he shows his ball-hawking abilities. At 6'4", he should be a good add for the Tigers.
The other secondary prospect is C.J. Fuller from Easley High School. Like I stated earlier, it is unclear if he will play running back or cornerback. Playing corner may give him the best shot at playing time because of the depth at running back over the next couple of seasons. He is rated as the 69th-best cornerback and is a 3-star prospect.
It would be safe to say that both of these guys will redshirt unless they outright win the playing time over the summer. Clemson has three guys returning at safety who played significant time this season in Travis Blanks, Robert Smith and Jayron Kearse. Others at this position are former 4-star Ronald Geohaghan and Jadar Johnson.
Fuller will be behind some solid cornerbacks too. Last year’s prized recruit Mackensie Alexander redshirted last season because of injury and will be a freshman this season. Martin Jenkins, Korrin Wiggins, Garry Peters and Adrian Baker are among other competitors for playing time next season.
Both prospects have a shot at getting on the field this season, but I would bet on them both taking a redshirt.
In terms of special teams, Clemson lost its record-breaking kicker this season in Chandler Catanzaro. Bradley Pinion will most likely replace him as the kicker, but Ammon Lakip will also compete for time.
This year’s special teams commit is Alex Spence, a 3-star kicker from Florence, South Carolina. He will likely not see much action this season because of Pinion, so a redshirt is probable.
Pinion has been solid for the Tigers when he has been on the field; he served as the kicker on kickoffs last season.
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