Re-Evaluating Clemson's 2011 Recruiting Class

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

Re-Evaluating Clemson's 2011 Recruiting Class

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    Former Clemson star Sammy Watkins
    Former Clemson star Sammy WatkinsWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Clemson's 2015 recruiting class is shaping up to be one of the best, if not the best, in school history. Currently, the Tigers have the No. 2-ranked class for 2015, with 20 verbal commitments, per 247Sports.

    However, it was the class of 2011 that is arguably the best in school history. 

    Players such as Sammy Watkins, Stephone Anthony and Martavis Bryant were among the 2011 class. Watkins alone makes the class a success, but the depth of the entire class stands out.

    Several players from the 2011 class, such as Anthony, Tony Steward and Cole Stoudt will play big roles in 2014. Of the 24 starting positions, including kicker and punter, as many as 14 members of the class of 2011 will start, or are in contention to start, this fall. 

    30 players enrolled at Clemson in 2011. Of those players, only six left the program. 

    Here is a closer look at Clemson's class of 2011. 

    All recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.


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    Cole Stoudt
    Cole StoudtTyler Smith/Getty Images

    Who signed?

    Cole Stoudt (3-star)

    Tony McNeal (3-star)

    Morgan Roberts (2-star)



    Stoudt was a solid backup to longtime starter Tajh Boyd for the last three years. Boyd's departure opened the door for Stoudt to be the team's starting quarterback in 2014. Stoudt seems poised to have a successful senior campaign.

    McNeal left the football team after two years due to injuries. He tore his ACL on the last play of the 2012 spring game and never suited up for the Tigers again. 

    Roberts looked to be improving at a rapid rate during his first two years on campus before deciding to transfer to Yale before the 2013 season. He never would have competed for the starting job at Clemson and realized his opportunities would be much better elsewhere. 



    C—Two transfers bring this grade down. However, this grade hinges heavily on how Stoudt performs in 2014. 

Running Back

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    Junior running back C.J. Davidson
    Junior running back C.J. DavidsonTyler Smith/Getty Images

    Who signed?

    Mike Bellamy (4-star)

    C.J. Davidson (unranked)



    Bellamy entered Clemson as the apparent heir to C.J. Spiller. Suffice it to say that did not happen. Bellamy left the program after just one season due to academics. He ended up playing for four different colleges and signed with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts in April.

    Davidson is a former walk-on who came to Clemson as a track and field athlete. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Davidson carried the ball 34 times in 2014. He is among four contenders for the starting running back job this fall. 



    D—Davidson gets high marks for how far he has come. However, the failure of Bellamy really hurt this group. 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

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    Former Tiger Martavis Bryant
    Former Tiger Martavis BryantBrett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Who signed?

    Sammy Watkins (5-star)

    Charone Peake (4-star)

    Martavis Bryant (4-star)

    Eric Mac Lain (4-star)

    Adam Humphries (3-star)

    Stanton Seckinger (3-star)



    Watkins was a top-five pick in May's NFL draft. Bryant was a fourth-round selection. Those two players accounted for a large portion of Clemson's passing offense in 2013. Watkins is one of the best players in school history and should be a big star at the next level.

    The rest of this class wasn't bad either.

    Mac Lain moved to the offensive line and has been a productive player. He is competing to start at one of the guard spots this fall. Peake tore his ACL last year, but is almost fully recovered and should start this fall. 

    Seckinger, recruited as a wide receiver, moved to tight end and caught 21 passes and four touchdowns in 10 starts last season. He will likely compete with Sam Cooper to be the top backup to sophomore Jordan Leggett in 2014. 

    Look for Humphries to have a big year as he returns for his senior season. Third on the team with 41 catches last year, Humphries is expected to be Clemson's top pass-catcher next season. His grasp of the offense and rapport with Stoudt put him in an ideal situation. 



    A—Even without Watkins, this was a very good group. 

Offensive Line

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    Projected starting left tackle, Isaiah Battle
    Projected starting left tackle, Isaiah BattleRICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

    Who signed?

    Spencer Region (3-star)

    Shaq Anthony (3-star)

    Ryan Norton (3-star)

    Isaiah Battle (NA)



    All four players are currently still in the program. Add in Eric Mac Lain and Joe Gore (signed as a defensive end), and most of Clemson's two-deep along the offensive line are from this class.

    Battle will be the starter at left tackle. He possesses the size and athletic ability NFL teams covet in a left tackle. If he plays with the consistency of former starter Brandon Thomas, he could be an All-American.

    Norton was the Tigers' starting center last season and will be so again in 2014. Anthony is the top backup at both tackle spots and is in contention to start opposite Battle on the right side. 

    Gore is competing with Anthony at right tackle. A former defensive lineman, Gore has made a seamless transition to the offensive line. 

    Mac Lain, if he isn't starting, will be the team's top reserve at several positions. Legion is a career backup.



    A—On the current two-deep, six of the 10 linemen are from the class of 2011. 

Defensive Line

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    Senior defensive end Corey Crawford
    Senior defensive end Corey CrawfordRICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

    Who signed?

    Corey Crawford (4-star)

    Joe Gore (3-star)

    DeShawn Williams (3-star)

    Grady Jarrett (3-star)

    Jerome Maybank (3-star)

    Kevin Dodd (3-star)



    This is another solid group signed by head coach Dabo Swinney. Crawford has been an outstanding starter for the past two years, and playing opposite Vic Beasley this fall will allow Crawford to put up bigger sack numbers. Crawford is a versatile lineman, as he is firm against both the run and the pass. 

    Gore, as previously noted, moved to the offensive line his freshman season.

    Williams and Jarrett have both been steady players for the Tigers over the past three seasons. Williams will compete with Josh Watson and D.J. Reader to start opposite Jarrett at defensive tackle. Jarrett, a starter the last two years, is a good bet to be on the All-ACC team this fall. Strong against the run, he is also a fine interior rusher. 

    Maybank has since moved to the offensive line and is a reserve guard. Dodd is a backup defensive tackle who will probably make more of an impact in 2015 than this fall. There is too much depth in front of him on the current roster. 



    B+—Jarrett and Crawford may not get the attention that Beasley does, but both are good players who could garner all-conference honors in 2014. 


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    Stephone Anthony
    Stephone AnthonyStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Who signed?

    Stephone Anthony (5-star)

    Tony Steward (5-star)

    Lateek Townsend (4-star)

    B.J. Goodson (3-star)

    Colton Walls (3-star)



    The Tigers signed three 5-star prospects in 2011. Two of them were linebackers.

    Anthony returns for his third season as a starter. An All-ACC pick at middle linebacker last season, Anthony has the ability to reach even higher levels in 2014. A good pass rusher, Anthony is also fine in coverage and should have an outstanding senior campaign with the entire defensive line returning.

    Steward, also a former 5-star recruit, has been hampered by injuries throughout his career. He is penciled in as the starter at weak-side linebacker, and coaches hope he finally stays on the field long enough to realize his vast potential.

    Townsend left the team after two years, while Walls departed after one year.

    Goodson would likely be a starter for many teams, but is stuck playing behind Anthony. Look for coaches to try and get him on the field more this fall.



    C+—This group is a mixed bag. Two players left the program, while three remain. One has become a very good player, another has yet to reach his potential and the other is a career backup. 

Defensive Back

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    Robert Smith
    Robert SmithTyler Smith/Getty Images

    Who signed?

    Cortez Davis (3-star)

    Robert Smith (3-star)



    The Tigers didn't dip too heavily into the defensive back class in 2011. Davis played two years at Clemson before leaving the program.

    Smith, a reserve his first two years, became a solid starter at safety in 2013. Although he isn't a big-play guy, Smith is a strong tackler and a formidable leader for the young secondary.



    D—It's tough to evaluate this group with only two players signed. However, one left the program and the Tigers received very little from this group until last season.  


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    Former Clemson kicker, Chandler Catanzaro
    Former Clemson kicker, Chandler CatanzaroPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Who signed?

    Ammon Lakip (3-star)



    Lakip redshirted his freshman season and has two years of eligibility remaining. He has his work cut out for him, though. Replacing Chandler Catanzaro, the school's all-time leading scorer, will not be easy. 

    Lakip, according to Swinney, had a good spring, per Heather Dinich of ESPN: "We all know how critical that position is," Swinney said. "If I had to call out a bright spot so far, it would be Ammon."



    Incomplete—Lakip has barely seen the field, so it is tough to fairly judge this group.