Most of Dabo Swinney's 2014 recruiting work is done, but a few key pieces remain.
CLEMSON, S.C. — With two weeks left in the 2014 recruiting cycle, Clemson’s work is nearly done.
Following Sunday’s commitment from 4-star Durham, N.C. receiver Trevion Thompson (who chose the Tigers over N.C. State, West Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio State), Clemson has 19 verbal commitments: 247Sports ranks the class No. 14 nationally.
A small senior class (Clemson graduated just 11 scholarship seniors this season) left a young roster and little room for new recruits, meaning that Dabo Swinney’s staff had to be very judicious about its offers and accepted commitments this season.
As the final stretch before national signing day unfolds, Clemson is likely to accept only one or two more commitments for the Class of 2014, if that. That’s a reality of this class for Swinney and Co.
The Tigers’ staff is laser-focused on a handful of recruits who can give the 2014 class some final, extra oomph. Here’s a look at the recruits that will make or break Clemson’s national signing day.
Defensive end Andrew Williams is a priority recruit for Clemson.
Rising senior Vic Beasley’s decision to return for his senior season of college football was a huge boon for Clemson’s defensive end group. The consensus All-American will be a major force on the Tigers’ line. But that only masks the fact that Clemson needs to replenish its end pipeline. Beasley, fellow starter Corey Crawford and Tavaris Barnes will all be seniors in 2014, leaving only rising star Shaq Lawson, rising junior Kevin Dodd and redshirt freshman Ebenezer Ogundeko on the roster.
The Tigers need ends, and they need players like Williams. Williams stands 6’4”, 247 pounds; the McDonough, Ga. native is rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect and the nation’s No. 12 defensive end prospect.
He has a solid frame and does some of his best work at the point of attack, breaking free from linemen and breaking into backfields to attack quarterbacks with excellent speed.
Williams visited Auburn this past weekend and is set to visit Clemson Jan. 31. He recently eliminated Ole Miss from contention, making this a Tiger-on-Tiger battle for his services.
Clemson will get the last chance to impress him, which could loom as crucial. The Tigers want to beat an SEC program for a defensive end. Clemson commitment Elijah Daniel and Clemson target Carl Lawson were both factors for Auburn in 2013, and highly touted end Robert Nkemdiche spurned the Tigers for Ole Miss last February.
Tennessee commitment Cory Thomas is strongly considering Clemson.
Thomas could fit in as a defensive end or defensive tackle. He measures at 6’6”, 270 pounds and is from McCalla, Ala., the heart of SEC country. Thomas is rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 24 strong-side defensive end prospect and a 3-star prospect. He is committed to Tennessee but visited Clemson this past weekend. He is slated to visit Mississippi State this weekend and then UT Jan. 31, with an eye toward announcing his decision on signing day.
Clemson’s depth issues at end make him an obvious target on the line, although he could grow into a defensive tackle spot. The Tigers’ top three tackles (Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Josh Watson) will all be seniors in 2014, and he could add depth there as well.
He has good athleticism, size and quickness and would be a solid cherry on top of the 2014 recruiting haul.
Notre Dame commitment Richard Yeargin III made an official visit to Clemson in November.
Yeargin would be another excellent addition to Clemson’s defensive line. The 6’4”, 225-pound prospect is rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect. He profiles as either an outside linebacker or defensive end in college and is rated by 247 as the nation’s No. 21 outside linebacker.
Yeargin made an official visit to Clemson in late November but decommitted from Notre Dame, his original collegiate choice, Friday. He has excellent quickness, pursuit ability, tackling and athleticism. Clemson has remained on Yeargin’s radar, and even moreso now that he is back on the market.
His father played at South Carolina State, so the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native has ties to the state. Adding him to the Class of 2014 would certainly make Dabo Swinney’s signing day better.
LSU commitment Trey Quinn is one of the nation's top wide receiver prospects.
With Thompson’s commitment, Clemson has four wide receiver commitments for 2014. If someone of Quinn’s caliber wanted to jump along, though, that would be fine. The Lake Charles, La. native stands 6’1”, 200 pounds and is rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 10 wide receiver and a 4-star prospect. He had 108 receptions for 1,967 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior.
Quinn is committed to LSU, but Clemson and Ole Miss have continued to pursue him. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and has excellent speed, size, hands, route running and agility. It would be a surprise if he spurned his home-state team, but if Clemson can get him on campus for an official visit, nothing is out of the question when he puts pen to paper on his national letter of intent.