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Recruiting

Clemson recruiting with elite of the elite

It’s no secret, at least to Clemson fans or those who cover the program, that the Tigers have recruited at a very high level over the past several years.

Since 2011, Clemson has signed six top-15 classes according to Rivals, including three top-10 classes. The lone exception is last year’s 22nd-ranked class, and that is due largely to the small class size of 14 commitments (the class’s average player rating is currently the best dating to at least 2002).

In that time, the Tigers have inked 14 recruits rated as a five-star by Rivals. The list includes Stephone Anthony, Sammy Watkins, Deshaun Watson, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence.

So, Clemson’s status in recruiting since 2011 warrants the elite label.

In more recent history, though, Clemson has recruited with the elite of the elite. Only Clemson and Alabama have signed at least three five-star prospects in each of the last three years according to Rivals.

This year, the Tigers are not only poised to repeat their end of that feat, but in the process of assembling what could be a historical 2018 class.

After landing a commitment from five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas last Saturday, Clemson carries commitments from the No. 1 and No. 2 overall players in the 2018 class according to 247Sports. Five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the recruiting service’s top-ranked prospect.

Those rankings are subject to change before signing day, though if it doesn’t, Clemson would become the first school since 247 began ranking players in 2000 to sign the top two players in the same class.

Lawrence and Thomas are the headlining members of Clemson’s 2018 class, but they aren’t the only highly touted ones. Defensive end Justin Mascoll is a top-100 prospect per both Rivals and 247, while wide receiver Derion Kendrick is a top-100 prospect per 247. Defensive tackle Josh Belk slots in just outside of 247’s top 100 at No. 104 overall.

With eight pledges so far, Clemson’s class ranks sixth nationally by 247 right now, and the Tigers are in position to add more top-notch talent this cycle.

Clemson is in the mix for a number of other players ranked as top-10 prospects by Rivals and/or 247, such as offensive tackle Jackson Carman, cornerback Anthony Cook, offensive guard Jamaree Salyer, cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. and running back Zamir White.

Clemson has gotten all of the aforementioned on campus this year. Salyer and Surtain visited Clemson in January (Salyer returned in March), Cook and Carman visited last month, and White visited for the spring game a week ago.

Thomas told us after he committed that he chose Clemson for the chance to make history. He and Lawrence have already started working in tandem to recruit some of the nation’s best players.

Dabo Swinney has said that the national championship doesn’t change how the Tigers go about their business on the recruiting trail. But it’s certainly aiding their efforts.

It’s clear Clemson has reached another level in recruiting, entering the stratosphere of blue-blood programs such as Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. And as Swinney says, it looks like “the best is yet to come.”

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