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Recruiting

Looking Ahead: Defensive End

Clemson football recruiting for the class of 2018 continues to heat up, but it’s never too early to take a peek ahead at the crop of prospects for 2019.

In this part of our “Looking Ahead” feature, The Clemson Insider looks at where the Tigers stand right now with their current defensive end targets:

Curtis Fann, Twin City, Ga. (Emanuel County Institute):

After getting checked out by defensive line coach Todd Bates during the spring evaluation period, Fann competed at the Dabo Swinney Camp in June and earned an offer from Clemson. He told us afterward he was excited to get the offer and enjoyed touring the campus and interacting with the coaches.

The fast-rising prospect has hauled in all 11 of his offers since May, including ones from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU.

Fann (6-3, 245) called Georgia his “dream offer” and visited the school first in June before going to Clemson and South Carolina. He most recently tripped to Auburn this week.

Zacch Pickens, Anderson, S.C. (T.L. Hanna High):

A local product, Pickens (pictured) has long been on Clemson’s radar and received an offer from the Tigers in March 2016. The five-star prospect has visited Clemson on numerous occasions, most recently to watch a spring practice in March after attending the game against South Carolina in November.

Pickens (6-3, 245) holds other offers from schools such as Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. He maintains a quiet recruitment and hasn’t named any leaders, though Clemson and Florida State are considered the frontrunners at this juncture. He visited Florida State for its junior day in March.

Nolan Smith, Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy):

Smith, a five-star and the nation’s No. 1 defensive prospect in 2019, has been committed to Georgia since January. However, he has kept his recruitment open to other schools, accepting offers and taking visits elsewhere.

Clemson offered Smith (6-3, 223) in May and attracted him for a visit last month. He spent a day on campus with Bates and defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and left impressed by Clemson.

Smith is teammates with 2018 Clemson commitments Mike Jones and Xavier Thomas. He is originally from Savannah, Ga., and has a strong relationship with fellow Savannah native and Clemson tight end Milan Richard. Clemson is believed to be one of his top three schools right now.

Travon Walker, Thomaston, Ga. (Upson-Lee High):

Walker (6-4, 240) picked up an offer from Clemson in January and visited for the first time last month, when he spent a day on campus during the Swinney Camp. He chatted with Swinney upon his arrival and watched the first portion of a workout with Bates before touring the campus and facilities with recruiting operations coordinator Ty Clements.

Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee are among Walker’s other offers. Georgia was first to offer and is viewed as the team to beat in his recruitment, though Clemson could present stiff competition to the Bulldogs moving forward. The Tigers have told Walker he is a top target, and he told us recently that they are making him feel like a priority.

Some of the other 2019 defensive ends we’re tracking are Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Siegel’s Joseph Anderson, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard’s Khris Bogle, Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian’s Chris Hinton, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard’s Braylen Ingraham, Nashville (Tenn.) Davidson Academy’s Ani Izuchukwu, Clayton (N.C.)’s Savion Jackson, Dillon (S.C.)’s Shamar McCollum and Mineral (Va.) Louisa County’s Brandon Smith.

Anderson, Bogle, Hinton, Ingraham and Izuchukwu have all reported offers from Clemson. Hinton visited Clemson for its junior day in March, while Ingraham visited Clemson during the Swinney Camp in June.

Jackson visited Clemson to watch a spring practice in March before returning to compete at the Swinney Camp. McCollum also competed at the camp, and Smith visited for the March junior day.

 

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