Clemson Football Recruiting: 5 Most Underrated Recruits in Tigers' 2014 Class
CLEMSON, S.C. — With just two days left before national signing day, Clemson’s 2014 recruiting class is in excellent shape. Dabo Swinney’s staff has secured 19 commitments and is in the mix for several highly touted recruits who will sign on Wednesday, including defensive end Andrew Williams, defensive lineman Cory Thomas and defensive end/linebacker Richard Yeargin III.
The Tigers’ class is ranked No. 15 nationally, with the potential finish even higher by the time the final signees’ national letters of intent roll in Wednesday.
Big names like 4-star quarterback signee Deshaun Watson, rated as the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, have grabbed plenty of headlines.
However, signing day is about more than headliners. Often, less-heralded recruits emerge and turn into special players.
Take Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch, who was considered a 2-star recruit by Rivals.com when he signed with the Tigers in 2007. He turned into a second-round NFL draft pick and is carving out a solid career for himself.
Clemson’s class has plenty of depth. Who are the next less-heralded recruits who could make a difference for Swinney’s staff? Let’s take a look.
Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
RB Jae'lon Oglesby
Oglesby stands at 6’0”, 175 pounds and is rated as a 3-star all-purpose back. He is the latest in a long line of Clemson products from D.W. Daniel High School, Clemson’s hometown high school.
Other Daniel/Clemson products include Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Washington Redskins defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, as well as rising senior Clemson defensive tackle DeShawn Williams and Clemson rising sophomore defensive end Shaq Lawson.
Oglesby has flown a bit under the radar, but he has excellent speed and could contribute as a wide receiver or tailback in college. He split time between positions this fall for Daniel, South Carolina’s Class 3A runner-up.
He has the ability to break a big play at any moment and can fill a variety of roles in Clemson’s fast-paced offense, with excellent change of direction, vision and ability.
TE Milan Richard
Richard stands at 6’2”, 232 pounds and is rated as a 3-star recruit as well as the nation’s No. 12 tight end prospect. Richard has excellent bloodlines. His uncle is Georgia tailback legend and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
Walker didn’t press Richard to commit to his alma mater, but getting his name on the dotted line will still be a coup for the Tigers, who love pass-catching, athletic tight ends like Dwayne Allen, Michael Palmer and Brandon Ford.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris uses tight ends in a variety of ways in his offense, from carrying the ball out of the backfield to catching passes to blocking down the field and working in motion.
Richard, who also served as a defensive end in high school, fits that mold perfectly.
The Tigers have a loaded depth chart at tight end with rising junior Stanton Seckinger, rising senior Sam Cooper and rising sophomores Jordan Leggett and Jay Jay McCullough, but Richard has the tools to contribute early.
LB Kendall Joseph
Joseph stands at 6’1”, 225 pounds and is a local prospect, hailing from Belton-Honea Path High School in Belton, S.C., 30 miles south of Clemson’s campus.
Joseph is a 3-star prospect and rated as the nation’s No. 26 inside linebacker prospect. He is an aggressive, sideline-to-sideline tackler who always seems to be around the ball. He’s also capable of making the big play and played on both sides of the ball in high school, serving as a tailback.
He picked Clemson over offers from Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville and UCLA and should make an impact on the Tigers’ linebacker corps sooner rather than later.
S Jeff Gibson
Gibson stands at 6’4” and weighs 190 pounds. He was a multitalented athlete at Grays Creek High School in Hopes Mill, N.C., serving as a quarterback and defensive back. He is rated as a 3-star prospect and the nation’s No. 50 safety.
He was previously committed to N.C. State before pledging to Clemson in late August, joining a deep group of safeties that includes returning starters Travis Blanks and Robert Smith and standout rising sophomore Jayron Kearse.
Like Kearse, Gibson has a tall, athletic frame which will make him a dangerous safety and someone opposing quarterbacks will have to keep an eye on.
Clemson likes to convert high school quarterbacks to safeties—Smith followed the same path and has emerged as a starter. The Tigers hope to have the same success with Gibson.
LB Chris Register
Register stands at 6’4”, 235 pounds and is rated as the nation’s No. 11 inside linebacker prospect. The 4-star prospect committed early to Clemson, picking the Tigers over offers from Miami, Florida State, Tennessee, N.C. State and North Carolina.
Register has the size to succeed and contribute early in Clemson’s defense and is an excellent run-stuffer.
The Tigers’ linebacker corps is deep, but with starters Quandon Christian and Spencer Shuey graduating, there could be an early opportunity for playing time.