Clemson Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Bryan ManningFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

Clemson Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

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    5-star offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt
    5-star offensive tackle Mitch HyattCredit: 247Sports

    The ink is barely dry from national signing day 2014, but it's never too early to start talking about next year.

    The Clemson Tigers signed 20 players this winter in a class that was ranked No. 18 nationally by 247Sports. However, 2015 could be an even bigger year for Clemson.

    Currently, the Tigers have the fourth-ranked recruiting class with 17 verbal commitments. Clemson is also in the mix for several more of the nation's top prospects.

    It's important to note that verbal commitments are non-binding and high school kids frequently change their minds. 

    Can Clemson continue its positive momentum on the recruiting front?

    As summer approaches, here are position-by-position grades on Clemson's current crop of verbal commitments. 

Quarterback

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    Tucker Israel
    Tucker IsraelCredit: 247Sports

    Tajh Boyd left Clemson after the 2013 season as arguably the greatest quarterback in school history. The Tigers signed Deshaun Watson in 2014, and he projects as the quarterback of the future. 

    Senior Cole Stoudt will start this fall with Watson projected as the top backup. Head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris would probably like to redshirt Watson, but the dismissal of Chad Kelly changes things.

    For the class of 2015, the Tigers have pledges from two quarterbacks: Tucker Israel and Kelly Bryant. Both Israel and Bryant are dual-threat quarterbacks, but Bryant is the much bigger prospect and possesses the stronger arm. 

    Bryant has the type of size (6'4", 205 lbs) and athletic ability to make a position switch in the future if he desires. However, he is a very talented quarterback prospect, and he will battle with Israel to presumably back up Watson in the fall of 2015.

    Grade: B+

Running Back

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    Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris
    Clemson offensive coordinator Chad MorrisTyler Smith/Getty Images

    The Tigers haven't placed a high priority on running back in this class. Clemson has three talented freshmen in the backfield in 2014 and may go after this position more heavily in 2016.

    Aca'Cedric Ware, Mikell Lands-Davis, Traveon Samuel and Ty'Son Williams are among the running backs Clemson stands a good chance of signing next February.  

    The presence of Wayne Gallman, C.J. Fuller and Tyshon Dye should allow the Tigers to skip this position in 2015. However, expect Clemson to come away with at least one running back in 2015.

    Grade: Incomplete 

Wide Receiver

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    In recent years, it almost seems as if Clemson is "Wide Receiver U." The Tigers have put DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant in the NFL in the past year. 

    With the loss of so many great players, Clemson loaded up at receiver in the class of 2014. Swinney signed four receivers, and three of those freshmen enrolled in January and have a chance of making an impact this fall.

    Shadell Bell is currently the only wide receiver commitment in the class of 2015. Bell, a 6'3", 190-pound speedster from Decatur, Georgia, is the type of receiver Clemson often targets. He's tall, lean and fast. 

    Expect the Tigers to continue to recruit several high-profile receivers, including 5-star George Campbell of Tarpon Springs, Florida.

    Grade: B (this year's class plays a part in this grade)

Tight End

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    4-star tight end Garrett Williams
    4-star tight end Garrett WilliamsCredit: 247Sports

    With rising sophomore Jordan Leggett looking like a future star, the Tigers appear to be in good shape at tight end over the next few years. The tight end group will be even better in 2015 when 4-star Garrett Williams arrives in Death Valley.

    Williams, at 6'4", 220 pounds, has good size with the frame to easily add 20 to 30 pounds of muscle without sacrificing any athleticism. He is an excellent receiver with good speed and strong hands. Playing behind Leggett in 2015 could benefit Williams as he uses a redshirt year to get stronger. 

    Grade: A-

Offensive Line

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    Jake Fruhmorgen
    Jake FruhmorgenCredit: 247Sports

    No team in America is as stacked at one position as the Clemson Tigers are on the offensive line in 2015.

    Currently, the Tigers have verbal commitments from four highly regarded offensive linemen. The standouts are 5-star Mitch Hyatt and 4-star Jake FruhmorgenNoah Green and Zach Giella are strong prospects in their own right.

    However, this class is all about Hyatt and Fruhmorgen. The Tigers believe they have found their bookend tackles for the next three or four years beginning in 2015.

    Hyatt is a rare high school lineman. He is big (6'5", 271 lbs), athletic and fundamentally sound. Hyatt has the necessary footwork to play on the left side right now—with one year of high school remaining.  

    Fruhmorgen could play left tackle at almost any school in the country but chose the Tigers over Alabama, among others. He projects as a right tackle for the Tigers. 

    Grade: A+

Defensive Line

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    Sterling Johnson
    Sterling JohnsonCredit: 247Sports

    Clemson has a veteran defensive line in 2014. The Tigers projected two-deep at both defensive end and defensive tackle is filled with seniors and juniors, with the exception of sophomore Shaq Lawson at defensive end.

    Fortunately for the Tigers, they received a commitment from 4-star defensive end Sterling Johnson of Clayton, North Carolina, just last week. A raw and talented pass-rusher, Johnson is a crucial addition for Clemson's class of 2015. At 6'5", 281 pounds, Johnson could also slide inside at the next level.

    Defensive tackle Gage Cervenka is the team's only other commitment on the defensive line at the moment. Cervenka is an underrated prospect who will need to bulk up to play defensive tackle for the Tigers early in his career. 

    Expect the Tigers to continue to recruit the defensive line aggressively this fall. Remember, Clemson only signed one defensive lineman from the class of 2014.  

    Grade: C

Linebacker

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    Chad Smith
    Chad SmithCredit: 247Sports

    Facing the graduation of several talented players, Swinney made recruiting linebackers a priority in both 2014 and 2015. The Tigers signed five linebackers in 2014 and currently have verbals from three in 2015: Chad Smith of Sterling, Virginia, and twins J.D. and Judah Davis of Central, South Carolina. 

    Smith projects as an outside linebacker for Clemson, while the Davis twins should start out on the inside. The Davis brothers are the sons of former Tiger great Jeff Davis. 

    Smith, at 6'3", 200 pounds, is a player on the rise. He had offers from Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Illinois and was drawing interest from Penn State and Ohio State. He will be fun to keep an eye on this fall. 

    The Davis brothers are smart and talented, but are they just legacy recruits? 

    Grade: B

Defensive Back

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    Clemson's secondary will be young in 2014. A pair of redshirt freshmen, Mackensie Alexander and Adrian Baker, should both play plenty this fall. 

    The Tigers signed just two defensive backs in 2014 but are loading up in 2015. Led by 4-star safety Van Smith, Clemson is adding several talented athletes to the defensive backfield.

    Cornerbacks Kaleb Chalmers (5'11", 171 lbs) and Juwuan Briscoe (6'0", 182 lbs) both possess ideal length and athleticism to play the position at the next level. Hard-hitting safety Tanner Muse brings physicality to the secondary.

    Antonio Parks, a 3-star cornerback, is currently projected as a future Tiger by 247Sports.

    While there are no Alexanders in this group, the overall depth and talent of the current commitments makes this a strong unit.

    Grade: A-

     

    All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.