On Monday, Bradenton (Fla.) Braden River defensive end Taylor Upshaw received a self-declared “dream offer” from Clemson.
Upshaw got word of the offer from defensive coordinator Brent Venables over the phone before Venables and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott came by his school.
Upshaw’s brother, Regan Upshaw, is a rising sophomore walk-on linebacker at Clemson. His dad, Regan Upshaw Sr., is a former NFL defensive end and first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1996 NFL draft.
“It means a lot,” Upshaw said of the offer during an interview with The Clemson Insider. “One of my favorite schools, if not my favorite school, decided to offer me. It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling, and I was very excited, me and my family.”
Last year, Upshaw and Clemson’s staff discussed the possibility of a grayshirt offer.
Clemson offered a full scholarship yesterday and guaranteed he would have a spot in the class of 2019. The Tigers, though, told Upshaw they are hoping to have space to take him in the 2018 class.
“I have a guaranteed scholarship in the class of 2019, and I told them how I felt about that,” Upshaw said. “I told them that I have 25 other offers, and is it the smartest thing for me to take a grayshirt? And what they’re trying to do right now is they’re going to try to find me a spot in the class of 2018. So, that’s what they’re working on right now.
“I guess that really just depends if somebody decides to leave early for the NFL draft,” he added. “So, that’s where my spot would come.”
Despite having played just one season of football as a junior in 2016, Upshaw has offers from Georgia Tech, Kentucky, N.C. State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Wisconsin among others.
Upshaw said the Tigers are intrigued by his raw ability and potential.
“They like my upside, the fact that I only played one year and did what I did, was able to produce on the field,” he said. “There was a lot I needed to work on, and during this offseason, I have worked on that and I’ve become 10 times better than I was last year. Last year I was just getting my feet wet, and this year, it’s time for my monster season.”
Upshaw has visited Clemson multiple times and plans to return this summer. Other schools he hopes to visit this summer include Ole Miss, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Right now, Upshaw is looking to make a decision before his senior season.
“It’s not guaranteed, but that’s something I really want to do,” he said. “As far as narrowing it down, I’ll probably narrow it down this summer because I’m taking a whole bunch of visits. So, this should be the time to narrow it down.”
Upshaw plans to major in construction management. Academics, player development and program culture will be important factors in his college choice.
“A family environment is a must, and Clemson definitely does have that over all the schools,” Upshaw said. “They have, in my opinion, the number one family environment. I’m not just saying that, but I’ve been there, my brother goes there, I know they have that. But that’s very important to me.”