Ray-Ray McCloud III has known where he'd be attending college for a while now. On Monday, the Clemson Tigers found out with the rest of the world.
Bright House Sports had the news:
As expected, McCloud announced his decision to attend Clemson at a live televised special on BHSN. The 30-minute program had been in the works for some time, as the 4-star running back—like many of his contemporaries—used his moment to soak up a little limelight.
McCloud chose Clemson over Florida, UCLA and Maryland. While there was some debate in recruiting circles where he would wind up—247Sports' Crystal Ball rating had Clemson as the 44 percent favorites, with Florida right behind—McCloud has maintained his decision had already been made long before Monday.
"I've been here a lot, so just hanging out with the coaches," McCloud told Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports. "I know where I'm going, I'm not changing my mind. I won't do anything to affect the school I'm committed to. I'll talk to my coach about [official visits], but if he's not down with that, I won't do it."
Big day for the #Gators. 4-star RB Ray-Ray McCloud making a commitment tonight. UF could really use the momentum right now.— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) July 28, 2014
As McCloud notes, he is still allowed to take official visits. His verbal commitment to the Tigers will not become official until February's national signing day. Until then, he is free to be swayed one way or another—though he's maintained his commitment is firm.
A star out of Sickles High School in Tampa, McCloud burst onto the scene as a junior. He rushed for 2,316 yards and 26 touchdowns while leading his team to the Florida 7A state semifinals. Though he's somewhat slight at 5'9" and 175 pounds, McCloud is still listed as the No. 93 recruit in the nation and sixth-best athlete by 247Sports' composite rankings.
Although he's listed as an athlete, most services project he will continue playing running back at the next level. He's an explosive ball-carrier, able to recognize holes and burst through them for long gains. Over his sophomore and junior seasons, he has averaged nearly eight yards per carry—the result of an endless supply of said big gains.
Dabo Swinney might want to see him receive more reps as a pass-catcher, as that skill has rarely been seen in his prep career. McCloud has a total of 27 catches for his career, though his 12-catch freshman season gave some hope that he could be a versatile threat. Sickles' reliance on McCloud has also prevented him from doing much as a return man; he has just 112 return yards, all in his sophomore season.
It will be interesting to see how he develops as an all-around player. Someone of his size profile and speed should be more active catching screen passes and working as an all-purpose threat. Had he not carried the ball 300 times last season, perhaps those touches could have been more evenly distributed.
That said, the Tigers are getting a unique prospect. As the running back position becomes more niche-oriented, guys like McCloud are going to get more chances. In the workhorse days of yore, scouts would have questioned whether someone his size could withstand a collegiate workload. In today's system, he won't have to withstand a weekly 30-carry load—mainly because so few backs in the country do so at all.
McCloud can be special in the right system. We're more than a year off until he'll arrive at Clemson, so he'll have plenty of time to work on his all-around game. We'll just have to see whether McCloud chose the right program to emphasize his unique skill set.
Stats via MaxPreps.
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