Clemson Football Recruiting: Meet the Tigers' 2014 Class
CLEMSON, S.C.—Dabo Swinney and Clemson didn't have the most action-filled national signing day, but it was productive nonetheless.
The Tigers signed 20 recruits, inking a 2014 signing class that ranks 17th nationally, according to 247Sports.
"A group of young men stood up and chose to be a part of our program," Swinney said. "It's exciting they've all chosen to be a Clemson Tiger. We definitely got better today. They're excellent players and excellent people."
Clemson filled many needs and got a cherry on top with the signing-day commitment of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defensive end Richard Yeargin III.
Much of Clemson's work was done in advance, with only a handful of commitments coming in the homestretch. In fact, the top signee, quarterback DeShaun Watson, committed to the Tigers two years ago and is already enrolled.
"We had no drama. I love no drama," Swinney said. The kind of day I want to have. I love when we have a group of guys who know what they want to do."
However, a lack of late drama doesn't make the class any less impressive. Here is a look at Clemson's 2014 recruiting haul.
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes in this article were obtained by the author.
RB Adam Choice
Height/Weight: 5’9”, 206 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star RB, No. 20 all-purpose back, No. 272 overall
High School : Thomas County Central HS, Thomasville, Ga.
Senior Year Stats: 1,517 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns. 27-of-52 passing, 471 yards, four touchdowns
Other Finalists: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech
Commit Date: May 22, 2013
The cousin of former Georgia Tech star tailback Tashard Choice, Adam is a talented tailback who can contribute in a variety of ways. He has excellent athleticism, change of direction and speed and played quarterback in high school.
At 5’9”, he’s a bit on the small side but can make big plays. With D.J. Howard and Zac Brooks the only upperclassman backs returning, Choice will battle with fellow Georgia products Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman for carries.
OT Justin Falcinelli
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 290 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star OT, No. 48 offensive tackle, No. 533 overall
High School: Middletown H.S., Middletown, Md.
Other Finalists: Maryland, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers
Commit Date: July 8, 2013
Only the second Maryland native to pick Clemson since 1991 (redshirt freshman LB Dorian O’Daniel was the first), Falcinelli is a very solid all-around prospect. He has toughness and is a slightly better run-blocker than pass-blocker, but he also measures out well with quickness, feet and athleticism. With left tackle Brandon Thomas graduating and junior Gifford Timothy giving up football due to knee injuries, Clemson needs tackles.
He is a redshirt who is likely behind rising sophomore Isaiah Battle and rising junior Shaq Anthony, among others, but Falcinelli fills a need.
CB C.J. Fuller
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 200 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star CB, No. 43 cornerback, No. 623 overall
High School: Easley H.S., Easley, S.C.
Other Finalists: N.C. State, North Carolina
Commit Date: May 20, 2013
A speedy, versatile threat who is a local just down Highway 123 from Clemson, Fuller played more tailback than corner in high school but is projected more as a corner in college. He still has some work to do academically to qualify at Clemson.
He had more than 2,000 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. At corner, with the graduation of Darius Robinson and the NFL departure of Bashaud Breeland, Fuller would join a crowd of underclassmen led by redshirt freshman Mackensie Alexander to play alongside rising seniors Martin Jenkins and Garry Peters.
S Jeff Gibson
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star S, No. 48 safety, No. 586 overall
High School: Grays Creek H.S., Hope Mills, N.C.
Senior-Year Stats: 38 tackles, three interceptions
Other Finalists: N.C. State, North Carolina, East Carolina
Commit Date: August 31, 2013
A versatile athlete who played some quarterback in high school, Gibson was originally committed to N.C. State before flipping to Clemson in late August. His frame makes him exceptionally tall for a safety, much like rising sophomore Jayron Kearse, who had a major impact as a true freshman.
With Travis Blanks recovering from a torn ACL suffered late in the season and fellow starter Robert Smith a rising senior, Clemson’s safety depth chart is a tad thin, with Kearse and rising sophomores Jadar Johnson and Ronald Geohaghan being the primary backups. If Gibson impresses, he could see time.
OT Taylor Hearn
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 305 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star OT, No. 68 offensive tackle, No. 773 overall
High School: Williston-Elko H.S., Williston, S.C.
Other Finalists: North Carolina
Commit Date: February 4, 2013
Hearn has a college-ready frame and also addresses Clemson’s depth issues at offensive tackle alongside fellow signee Justin Falcinelli. He has excellent size and decent run-blocking and pass-blocking ability. With upperclassmen like Isaiah Battle and Shaq Anthony already in place, expect him to redshirt, gain strength and build his body this fall.
LB Kendall Joseph
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 225 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star LB, No. 26 inside linebacker, No. 586 overall
High School: Belton-Honea Path H.S., Belton, S.C.
Senior-Year Stats: 118 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions
Other Finalists: Duke, Louisville, UCLA, Georgia Tech
Commit Date: June 17, 2013
A solidly-built, sideline-to sideline tackler who always seems to be around the ball, Joseph fits in on both sides of the ball as one of the best linebackers in South Carolina. He also played tailback and seems to have a knack for the big play on offense and defense. He has the frame to play early and has good quickness, movement, instincts and tackling.
With starters Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian graduating, Joseph will battle with the likes of rising sophomores Ben Boulware and T.J. Burrell, as well as junior Kellen Jones, senior Tony Steward and redshirting freshman Dorian O’Daniel for playing time.
WR Demarre Kitt
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 182 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star WR, No. 24 wide receiver, No. 162 overall
High School: Sandy Creek H.S., Tyrone, Ga.
Senior-Year Stats: 48 catches, 861 yards, seven touchdowns
Other Finalists: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cal
Commit Date: May 30, 2013. Enrolled at Clemson.
An athletic pass-catcher with good size and speed, Kitt hails from the same high school that produced NFL All-Pro Calvin Johnson. Kitt had 1,235 yards and 11 scores as a high school junior. With the departures of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant to the NFL and Charone Peake recovering from a torn ACL, Kitt and the Tigers’ other wide receiver signees could play early if they pick up the system in the spring.
RB Jae'lon Oglesby
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 175 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star RB, No. 8 all-purpose back, No. 347 overall
High School: D.W. Daniel HS, Central, S.C.
Senior-Year Stats: 2,176 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns
Other Finalists: South Carolina
Commit Date: June 16, 2013
A multipurpose back who is equally impressive catching passes and running with the ball, Oglesby helped D.W. Daniel High to a South Carolina Class 3A runner-up finish as a senior. He is fully capable of breaking a big play at any moment and has excellent agility, change of direction and vision.
With Rod McDowell’s departure, the Tigers backfield is fairly open with rising senior D.J. Howard, rising junior Zac Brooks and redshirt freshmen Wayne Gallman and Tyshon Dye leading the way. Oglesby could earn time as a change-of-pace back if he picks up the offense quickly.
WR Kyrin Priester
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star WR, No. 1 prep school WR, No. 3 prep school prospect overall
High School: Fork Union Military Academy, Fork Union, Va.
Other Finalists: Ohio State
Commit Date: Jan. 20, 2013. Enrolled.
Priester originally signed with Clemson out of high school in Snellville, Ga., but he didn’t qualify academically and spent the fall at Fork Union. He has excellent size, athleticism, hands and leaping ability and could contribute early as a prep school veteran who has already enrolled at Clemson. Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant’s departures to the NFL leave opportunity, and Priester could take advantage.
LB Chris Register
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 235 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star LB, No. 26 inside linebacker, No. 295 overall
High School: Dudley H.S., Greensboro, N.C.
Other Finalists: Miami, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky
Commit Date: May 30, 2013. Enrolled.
Register has the size to compete early on and is an excellent run-stuffer with solid physical abilities. With incumbent weak-side linebacker Spencer Shuey graduating, Register could fit in there, although there will be competition with senior Tony Steward and rising sophomore Ben Boulware, as well as redshirt freshman Dorian O’Daniel. However, he has the frame to play early.
TE Milan Richard
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 232 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star TE, No. 12 tight end, No. 318 overall
High School: Calvary Day School, Savannah, Ga.
Senior-Year Stats: 29 receptions, 502 yards, five touchdowns
Other Finalists: Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana
Commit Date: May 8, 2013
Chad Morris loves athletic, pass-catching tight ends, and Richard fits the bill. The nephew of former Georgia legend and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, Richard is a quality Peach State pull for the Tigers. He has the hands and athleticism to fit well in Morris’ offense.
With rising junior Stanton Seckinger and rising sophomores Jay Jay McCullough and Jordan Leggett as well as rising senior Sam Cooper, Clemson has plenty of depth at TE, but Richard is a quality option.
DT Jabril Robinson
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 265 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star DT, No. 101 defensive tackle
High School: North Brunswick H.S., Leland, N.C.
Other Finalists: East Carolina, N.C. State
Commit Date: July 19, 2013
Clemson has a need for defensive tackles, with front-line DTs Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson and DeShawn Williams all entering their senior seasons. Robinson provides solid depth and has a great motor, but he could stand to put on some size. A redshirt season wouldn’t be surprising as he learns behind the vets, as well as rising junior D.J. Reader and sophomore Carlos Watkins.
LB Korie Rogers
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 210 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star LB, No. 9 outside linebacker, No. 145 overall
High School: Buford H.S., Buford, Ga.
Senior-Year Stats: 70 tackles
Other Finalists: Auburn, Georgia, Florida, East Carolina
Commit Date: May 29, 2013
A quick linebacker with excellent instincts and lateral movement, Rogers is a solid tackler who comes from one of the best high school programs in Georgia. He has good toughness and is a seasoned prospect. With senior starters Quandon Christian and Spencer Shuey graduating, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Rogers get some playing time as a freshman.
He’ll battle rising sophmores like T.J. Burrell and Ben Boulware, as well as junior Kellen Jones and senior Tony Steward, among others, for playing time.
WR Artavis Scott
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 175 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star WR, No. 8 wide receiver, No. 68 overall
High School: East Lake H.S., Tarpon Springs, Fla.
Senior-Year Stats: 67 rushes for 723 yards and 13 touchdowns; 37 receptions for 542 yards and five touchdowns
Other Finalists: Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Auburn
Commit Date: July 2, 2013. Enrolled.
A speedy wide receiver with the ability to make a big play at any time, including off screens and short passes, Scott is a perfect fit for Chad Morris’ offense. He has excellent change of direction and vision. With Florida native Sammy Watkins gone, Scott could replace the explosive nature that Watkins had in the receiving and kick-return games. He should have the opportunity to impress Morris during spring practice.
TE Cannon Smith
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 235 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star OT, No. 22 offensive tackle, No. 283 overall
High School: Hammond School, Columbia, S.C.
Other Finalists: Alabama
Commit Date: July 20, 2012
The son of 1981 national championship team member Billy Smith (now a Clemson trustee), Cannon is as much of a Clemson legacy as you can get. He was recruited by Clemson as a tight end but could also play offensive tackle. Eric MacLain made a similar transition two years ago. Smith has the frame to grow into a line spot but is intriguing either way.
WR Trevion Thompson
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 188 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star WR, No. 17 wide receiver, No. 118 overall
High School: Hillside High School, Durham, N.C.
Other Finalists: N.C. State, North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio State
Commit Date: January 19, 2014
Another impressive member of the Tigers’ freshman wide receiver class, Thompson has excellent speed, size and ball skills and is capable of making the big play. He’ll be the only one out of four who is not enrolled early at Clemson, so he’ll be playing a bit of catch-up.
But with Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant going to the NFL, opportunity exists for all the newcomers to get some playing time if they pick up the offense quickly.
QB Deshaun Watson
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star QB, No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, No. 41 overall
High School: Gainesville HS, Gainesville, Ga.
Senior-Year Stats: 4,431 yards passing, 57 touchdowns and five interceptions; 1,057 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns
Other Finalists: Georgia, Auburn
Commit Date: Feb. 2, 2012. Enrolled.
Perhaps the highest-ranked quarterback that Clemson has ever signed, Watson is highly capable of passing and running, much like Tajh Boyd. He is a bit skinny for his 6’3” frame, but that can be rectified. He is a natural leader who calls his own plays at the line of scrimmage and is very mature. He’ll compete with rising senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly in spring practice to replace Boyd and should hold his own.
LB Jalen Williams
Height/Weight: 5’11", 220 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star LB, No. 124 inside linebacker
High School: Blythewood H.S., Blythewood, S.C.
Senior-Year Stats: 84 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one sack, four forced fumbles
Other Finalists: Air Force, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Furman, Wofford
Commit Date: October 4, 2013
A solid, smart linebacker with good pursuit and tackling skills, Williams picked Clemson over Air Force and a host of FCS offers and is likely to grayshirt, which means he’ll delay his enrollment until January 2015. When he gets to campus, he’ll provide depth in a large group of linebackers.
K Alex Spence
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190 pounds
Position Ranking: 3-star K, No. 10 kicker, No. 1263 overall
High School: West Florence High School, Florence, S.C.
Senior-Year Stats: 14-of-17 made field goals, 36-of-37 point-after tries.
Commit Date: June 14, 2013
Spence, who will actually pay his own way for the first semester to open up a scholarship, is one of the nation’s top prep kickers with excellent accuracy. With the departure of senior Chandler Catanzaro, the program’s all-time scoring leader, Spence will have the opportunity to compete for a job immediately with junior Ammon Lakip.
DE Richard Yeargin III
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225 pounds
Position Ranking: 4-star DE/LB, No. 21 outside linebacker, No. 266 overall
High School: University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Senior-Year Stats: 59 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, seven sacks
Other Finalists: Notre Dame, Florida, Texas
Commit Date: February 5, 2014
One of the nation’s top defensive end/linebacker prospects, Yeargin is a solid late addition to Clemson’s class. Although he was previously committed to Notre Dame, the Tigers kept up the pressure and were rewarded on signing day. He has excellent speed and agility and could play linebacker, although Clemson sees him as an end. With Corey Crawford, Vic Beasley and Tavaris Barnes entering their senior seasons, there is an opportunity to play early on the defensive line.
College Football Recruiting Heat Map
This searchable, customizable college football recruiting "heat map" shows where 247Sports' top 200 college football recruits signed in the 2014 recruiting cycle. It's a fascinating look at where college football talent is concentrated.