During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney played down the importance and implications of Clemson’s rivalry game against South Carolina from a recruiting standpoint.
Swinney and his program haven’t competed with South Carolina for as many in-state prospects in recent history as one might think, and the outcome of a single contest like tomorrow’s generally doesn’t hold as much weight in the minds of recruits as it might seem and isn’t generally as pertinent as other factors.
With that said, the visitor list for the 2017 Palmetto Bowl in Death Valley is loaded, highlighted by a number of high-profile in-state prospects, and Clemson could make a statement about its superiority in the state with a convincing win.
Here is a rundown of the recruits The Clemson Insider has confirmed plan to be in attendance tomorrow:
A pair of prospects who many regard to be the top two players from South Carolina in the 2018 class will be on hand in Florence-Wilson High five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas and Rock Hill-South Pointe High four-star wide receiver Derion Kendrick.
Thomas, who is rated by 247Sports as the No. 2 prospect nationally for 2018, will be on campus for the second time this season after visiting for the Louisville game on Oct. 1. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, who holds over two dozen offers, visited South Carolina for its game against Western Carolina last weekend, marking his third trip to Columbia this season. Thomas has also attended games at Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia this fall.
Contrarily, this will be Kendrick’s first visit to any school this season. Kendrick, who is rated as a top-100 player nationally, has offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia among others.
A trio of other top 2018 South Carolina recruits will be on hand, as well, in Blythewood four-star athlete Jordyn Adams, Richburg-Lewisville High four-star defensive tackle Josh Belk and North Charleston-Fort Dorchester four-star athlete Dakereon Joyner.
Clemson offered Adams as a wide receiver in late October, and he visited Clemson for the Syracuse game in early November. The standout two-sport athlete’s offer sheet includes Clemson, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and others.
This will be the third Clemson game visit for Belk, who visited for the game against Pitt earlier this month as well as the Louisville game in October. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder owns offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State among others. Belk visited South Carolina three times this season, too.
Meanwhile, Joyner will be making his first visit to Clemson this season after visiting South Carolina, N.C. State and Georgia earlier in the fall. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback lists offers from both Clemson and South Carolina in addition to Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and several others.
Several prominent prospects from outside the state will also make their way to Clemson.
Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett five-star 2018 defensive end Justin Mascoll will be on campus for the first time since April. Mascoll received one of his 20-plus offers from Clemson in November 2015.
Carrollton (Texas) Hebron four-star 2018 cornerback Verone McKinley will witness his first Clemson game in person after visiting Clemson for the first time in June. Clemson extended an offer to McKinley, who has over 20 of them, in June.
Charlotte (N.C.) Ardrey Kell 2019 safety, the son of former BYU and NFL safety Derwin Gray, will see his second Clemson game in as many months after visiting for the first time in October when the Tigers played N.C. State.
A couple of other noteworthy visitors slated for the game are Roebuck (S.C.) Dorman 2018 offensive tackle Jordan McFadden and Central (S.C.) Daniel 2018 three-star linebacker Jake Venables.
Moncks Corner (S.C.) three-star 2018 safety Israel Mukuamu is planning to visit for the third time this season, but wasn’t entirely sure whether he would make it at the time of this publication.
Among Clemson’s committed visitors will be Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier four-star offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst, Virginia Beach (Va.) Cox four-star defensive end Jordan Williams and Citra (Fla.) North Marion three-star offensive lineman Blake Vinson.