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Priority DL says Tigers deserve special 2018 class

Defensive tackle Darnell Jefferies has seen a lot of Clemson over the past month or so.

The four-star from Covington (Ga.) Newton returned to Tigertown on Saturday for his fourth visit since the beginning of March, and this time around, he was accompanied by a group of those close to him.

“It was a real family affair,” Jefferies told The Clemson Insider, “which included my parents, my girlfriend of five years, her parents and younger brother, as well as one of my first cousins. We really had a blast.

“I enjoyed it. The energy was amazing, from both the team and the fans.”

The Tigers offered Jefferies during their junior day on March 4, which marked his first trip to Clemson. He brought a training group of Peach State prospects to Clemson a week later, and came back again four days after with his mother.

This visit was unique for Jefferies because it was his first chance to take in Death Valley’s atmosphere during the Orange & White spring game.

“It was more of a game day experience and the fans were so nice to me, and they wanted my autograph,” Jefferies said. “I was really glad to talk to many of them and spend some time with the Clemson fans. It was truly an honor.”

On the sidelines before kickoff, Jefferies hung around mostly with Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett four-star defensive end commit Justin Mascoll.

“Justin is a beast of a player and I truly have a lot of respect for him and his game,” Jefferies said. “Overall, just the kind of guy he is. We have a really good friendship, we played AAU basketball together when we were younger and we’ve been friends since then.”

Jefferies also chatted a little bit with Clemson’s newest commit, Bradenton (Fla.) five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas.

“I spoke with him briefly, to congratulate him of his commitment,” Jefferies said. “I think it’s great, he’s a baller and I’m happy that he has found the right place for him to call home.”

Jefferies talked further with Clemson’s coaching staff, as well, including head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

He said Clemson’s message has remained consistent.

“Take your time, keep looking at everything every school has to offer,” Jefferies said of what he’s been hearing from the Tigers. “We hope it’s Clemson for you, but if not we want you to be happy.”

Along with Clemson, Jefferies carries offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among his more than 20 total.

Jefferies has made other visits to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and South Carolina so far this year.

He said he plans to release a top 10 by the summer and commit before the start of his senior season.

Jefferies is taking his time with the recruiting process and not rushing a decision. There are schools he wants to check out before dwindling things down.

Because of that, Jefferies says he hasn’t given much thought yet to joining what could be a historical 2018 class at Clemson, with Thomas having already joined forces with the nation’s No. 1 player, Cartersville (Ga.) five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

But he thinks Clemson is deserving of a special class.

“I’m still navigating this process and taking it all in, but one thing I can say for sure at this point is if any school deserves a special class it’s Clemson,” he said. “They take a lot of pride in what they have to offer and I wish them much success.”

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