Fresh off the football team’s first national championship in more than three decades, Clemson University welcomed students for the first day of the spring 2017 semester on Wednesday.
Clemson football’s four early enrollees — Brownsburg (Ind.) quarterback Hunter Johnson, Citra (Fla.) offensive lineman Blake Vinson, Rock Hill (S.C.) defensive end/linebacker Logan Rudolph and Calhoun (Ga.) linebacker Baylon Spector — arrived on campus over the weekend before beginning classes with their fellow students today.
Johnson, a five-star prospect and the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 class, had two dozen offers from schools such as Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Penn State. Johnson moved into Clemson on Sunday after earning Most Valuable Player honors at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, when he threw a 61-yard touchdown pass for his team’s first score of the game.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who will compete with Kelly Bryant and Zerrick Cooper for Clemson’s starting quarterback job during spring practice threw for 2,233 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior and rushed for 525 yards and three touchdowns as he led his team to an 8-2 record and conference championship. Johnson, who was named the state of Indiana’s Mr. Football winner by The Indianapolis Star in December, passed for 6,657 yards and 69 touchdowns in his high school career. He committed to Clemson in December 2015.
Vinson, a product of North Marion High School, is Johnson’s roommate. Vinson committed to Clemson in January 2016 over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among others. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle is one of three offensive linemen in Clemson’s ’17 class and the class’s only recruit from Florida. Vinson was unable to play his senior season due to a torn labrum in his shoulder suffered over the summer, which required surgery. While the shoulder isn’t fully recovered yet, Vinson has 100-percent range of motion in it and is just working on building its strength back up. The four-star standout was an all-conference performer in Marion County as a junior in 2015.
Rudolph, who many know in part as the man who committed to Clemson in May with a unique Twitter video showing him in jeans shorts chopping wood, is the only member of Clemson’s ’17 class from South Carolina. Growing up a little more than two hours away from Clemson, Rudolph was a four-star at Northwestern High School with around 40 offers, highlighted by Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Southern Cal. Rudolph was recruited by schools as a defensive end, linebacker and tight end, but expects to play linebacker at Clemson. Rudolph missed most of his senior season due to a torn labrum suffered in the team’s second game, though he is expected to be ready for spring practice. The No. 5 prospect in South Carolina for 2017 is the brother of Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. The younger Rudolph’s former head coach, Kyle Richardson, is an assistant on Clemson’s staff.
Last but not least is Spector, who will settle in at Clemson as a linebacker after playing all over the field for Calhoun High School. Spector played quarterback, running back, linebacker and safety during his high school career. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder was first offered by Clemson and became Clemson’s first commitment in the ’17 class when he pledged in August 2015. He is the son of former Clemson wide receiver Robbie Spector, who played under legendary coach Danny Ford in the late 1980s.
Now on campus, Clemson’s four mid-year enrollees can reap the benefits of arriving early as they get accustomed to college life, learn the playbook and adjust to college football when they get on the field for spring practice in March.
Starting classes two days after Clemson won the national title, the quartet of Tigers couldn’t have come in at a better time.