On Wednesday, Dabo Swinney and Clemson inked the school’s best signing class in at least 15 years in terms of player quality statistically. The 2017 class’s 3.86 average star rating by Rivals, 3.79 average star rating by Scout and .9209 player rating by 247 (247 assigns each player a rating in addition to a star value) are all the best marks in Clemson history dating to the beginning of those recruiting services’ databases in 2002.
In fact, Clemson’s classes have improved by those measures over the last several years according to all of the aforementioned services, and that trend could continue with the next one.
Clemson’s available scholarships are again limited for the next cycle, so the 2018 class will be similarly small. But the low numbers will again allow Clemson’s staff to be selective and focus their efforts on an elite group of prospects.
The 2018 class already consists of significant star power and features the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Cartersville (Ga.) five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers also drew pledges last weekend from the top two players in South Carolina, Rock Hill-South Pointe four-star wide receiver Derion Kendrick and Richburg-Lewisville four-star defensive tackle Josh Belk. Four-star linebackers and top-250 overall prospects Mike Jones and Jake Venables are on board, as well.
In the very early stages of the cycle, Clemson’s 2018 class ranks seventh nationally by 247 with an average player rating of .9405 that bests this year’s record rating, and the Tigers are contenders for many of the country’s best players in the class.
IMG Academy five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas, the No. 2 player in the class, has narrowed his recruitment down to Clemson and South Carolina. The nation’s No. 1 running back and consensus top-10 prospect Zamir White (Laurinburg, N.C.) has listed Clemson among his leaders.
Thomas and a majority of Clemson’s other priority targets were on campus last Saturday for Junior Day. Clemson hosted the nation’s No. 1 prospect at five different positions according to Rivals and/or 247, including Lawrence, Thomas, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain and IMG Academy five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent.
So, one can see the potential that is there for Clemson’s 2018 class. Clemson naturally faces plenty of competition for their pledges, and only time will tell how many the Tigers are able to land.
But Clemson is in as good of a position as it can be right now as the reigning national champions and having just opened its state-of-the-art football operations facility. Clemson is a place that recruits want to visit, as evidenced by the turnout for Junior Day, and Swinney feels good about his chances with prospects after getting them on campus.
Clemson isn’t changing how it recruits following the national title. After all, Clemson has recruited at a high level for years now. Still, Clemson is feeling and will continue to reap the benefits of its unprecedented success. The power of the Paw that Swinney talks about carries more weight than ever right now.
For Swinney and Clemson, “Best is the Standard,” and Clemson is living up to that standard on the field, with its facilities and in its recruiting classes.
With the next class, the potential to set a new standard is certainly there.