At 6-foot-2 and weighing 180 pounds as a cornerback, physically, it appears Clemson five-star signee A.J. Terrell is ready to come to Tigertown and contribute right away.
Terrell is one of 10 signees from Clemson’s 2017 recruiting class that will be reporting for summer session next month. Linebacker Baylon Spector, quarterback Hunter Johnson, linebacker Logan Rudolph and offensive lineman Blake Vinson enrolled in school in January and participated in spring drills.
Swinney says Terrell and the other nine freshmen still not on campus will all have an opportunity to come in and compete when fall camp opens in August. Many expect Terrell to jump right in the mix at cornerback where the Tigers are looking to replace Cordrea Tankersley, who is now playing with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.
“I think he’s got a shot, just looking at him physically,” Swinney said. “You never really know until you start coaching a guy.”
Such was the case for five-star linebacker Shaq Smith last year. Though Smith (6-2, 240) was physically gifted he still was not where he needed to be mentally in Brent Venables’ defensive scheme so he was redshirted.
“Going back to Shaq Smith last year, he was a five-star, top linebacker in the country and looks like a freak of nature physically, but mentally he just wasn’t quite ready, and you can’t ever predict that,” Swinney said. “Sometimes guys aren’t physically quite where they need to be, but mentally they’re ready to go. So, you just never know until you start coaching them.”
Terrell will compete with a secondary that is loaded with talented players. Ryan Carter, Marcus Edmond, Mark Field and Amir Trapp are competing for the starting job on the field side, while Carter, Trayvon Mullen, Field and K’Von Wallace all worked out at the boundary corner position this past spring.
Terrell was the highest rated signee among the 2017 signing class for Clemson. He was rated as the No. 13 overall player by Rivals.com. The Atlanta native from Westlake High School was the Class 7-A Player of the Year in Georgia by the Coaches Association and was first-team All-State by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2016.
“Looking at his attributes, his skill level, his length, his tackling ability, things like that, there’s no question he’s got a great chance to get in the mix this year,” Swinney said. “But again, how does he transition mentally and all that? I don’t know until you start coaching him. He’s certainly going to have an opportunity to come in and compete. All those guys will.”