Clemson Football: Top 10 Recruiting Targets for the Tigers in 2011
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After coming off of a heartening 9-4 season in Dabo Swinney's first full year as a head coach, the Clemson Tigers took a big step backwards after a dismal 6-7 season, which saw the Tigers lose three of their last five games, which included a second straight loss to in-state rival South Carolina 29-7. This was the first losing season for Clemson since the Tommy West era.
After making some critical offensive staff changes, which included the firing of offensive coordinator Billy Napier, Swinney and the Tigers are looking to get back to the top of the Atlantic Division and return to the Championship Game However, the Tigers won't be without plenty of help from their 2011 recruiting class.
Swinney's third class ranks among the top ten by most recruiting services, and not without reason. Clemson looks to bring in some of the top skill position prospects in the country in receivers Charone Peake, Sammy Watkins, and running backs Mike Bellamy and Marlin Lane. Recent commit Lateek Townsend will add explosiveness and flair to Clemson's linebacker corps.
With a class of around 24 to 25 commitments, there are still possible signees out there that have been on the Clemson radar that could make immediate contributions to this class. Who is Clemson looking at to add even more talent and potential to this already loaded recruiting class?
TE Jay Rome
TE Jay Rome (clemson.scout.com)
One player that the Tigers are still looking at to add to their dynamic class is the highly touted tight end Jay Rome.The 6-5, 230 pound tight end is still undecided, and has had offers from Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida.
Rome is a big target at 6-5 with great ball skills and the ability to line up as a wide receiver and create mis match problems for opposing defenses. He is also a capable run blocker as well, making him a very wanted tight end.
As it currently stands, it appears he is a heavy lean towards Georgia, and will visit Alabama this weekend. It appears Clemson is not much of a factor for this tight end at this time, and appears to possibly be out of the running. Rome is set to announce his decision in a few days, making his official January 28th visit to Clemson unlikely to happen.
P/PK Cameron Haynes
Haynes is one of two kickers the Tigers suddenly have their eyes on.(recruiting.scout.com)
Cameron Haynes, a P/PK Clemson suddenly has their eyes on is a possible special team addition the Tigers sorely need. The kicking game struggled dearly during the season, with Clemson's current kickers a very inconsistent group.
While Clemson has yet to offer him a scholarship, Clemson coach Charlie Harbison was scheduled to be in Pelham, Alabama this week.
Even if the Tigers sign him, it's very possible he'd likely become a punter at the net level. Other schools have also locked onto this recruit's future potential; these schools include Samford and Troy, who has invited him to walk-on.
Haynes averaged 46 yards a punt, and was 9-12 on field goals. His season long was 50 yards, with two of his misses coming from beyond 50 yards.
Defensive Linemen Jadeveon Clowney
Townsend's commitment to Clemson may sway Clowney to do the same. (bleacherreport.com)
One of the most highly touted defensive ends in the nation still on the board is Jadeveon Clowney. A close friend of Lateek Townsend, both of these explosive, highly touted defensive players were originally reported to head for South Carolina with the desire to play together.
However, this undecided prospect's destination become even more clouded with Townsend's surprise commitment to the Clemson Tigers. With Clowney likely undecided until training camp, it may appear as though Clemson may steal two top recruits from their in state rivals in South Carolina. Townsend and Clowney both have expressed a desire to play together, and where Clowney goes will be an interesting one, as Clemson has become a factor with Townsend's commitment to come to the program.
Clowney is described as Daquan Bowers coming out of high school: a prime pass rushing threat, and has harassed quarterbacks all throughout his high school career, and looks set to do the same at the next level. He has had offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Louisiana State, and Alabama. Clowney is still undeclared, but South Carolina,and even Clemson, have continued to be in the mix for his pass rushing specialist.
Kicker Ammon Lakip
Despite late looks at a kicker, Clemson is a factor in where this kicker ends up. (prokicker.com)
Last week, Clemson took a look at kicker Ammon Lakip out of Alpharetta, Georgia. Clemson has attempted to fix its kicking woes by offering Lakip a full scholarship. A friend of current Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman, Lakip entered the recruiting process late, but has still taken enough interest in Clemson by scheduling a visit to the campus on January 29th.
Lakip made a game winning 51 yard field goal during the play offs, and is also a soccer player, as he has visited the Clemson campus for a soccer recruiting trip earlier in the spring, but has told those around him that he will stick to one sport, and not be a two sport star, similar to what former kicker Mark Bucholz was a few years prior.
Lakip has also had offers from Maryland, Georgia Tech, Air Force, and Auburn, while UConn is offering him as a walk on and Auburn is offering him a gray shirt.
If he comes to Clemson, he has the opportunity to immediately start and win the kicking job over Spencer Benton and Chandler Cantanzaro.
LB Tony Steward
Steward is one of the best LBs in the nation, and Clemson isn't out of th running (sbNation .com)
One of the best linebackers in the nation out of St. Augustine, Florida, Steward is still undeclared and is on everyone's board. Steward is one of the top overall prospects in the nation, and has been offered by Clemson, Alabama, Florida, UCLA, Florida State, and Miami(FL), though at this point Miami and Florida look to be out of it. He canceled his Alabama visit earlier this year, signifying that he is unlikely to attend and become a part of Kirby Smart's defense.
Steward suffered a setback into his college career by sustaining a knee injury. But, despite this, he's still being heavily recruited despite these setbacks. Clemson landing this star recruit would be an opportunity like no other, as Clemson has recently struggled to recruit and land some of the best linebackers in the nation.
LB Stephone Anthony
Tony Steward is rated as the number one outside linebacker in the nation. The past few years, the Tigers have been short at the linebacker position. Clemson has been able to capitilize on Anthony thus far, and have remained in hot contention on his list along with Florida, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and North Carolina State.
Anthony is an athletic outside linebacker at 6-2, 220 pounds, he recorded 123 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions in his senior year. his quickness and ability gives defenses an advantage on the outside in terms of stopping the run, and is quick on the edge during the pass rush, making him a viable blitz option.
With Townsend already committed, Clemson still has opportunities to land even more power and depth to its depleted linebacker corps.