Clemson played host to most of its commitments in the class of 2018 and a couple of talented targets for the sixth annual All In Cookout on Friday evening.
The Tigers’ signature summer recruiting event, among other activities, typically features a food-eating contest of some sort.
Last year, offensive tackle Blake Vinson was crowned champion of the donut-eating contest.
This year, Clemson commit Darnell Jefferies walked away victorious from the cookout’s watermelon-eating competition.
“I enjoyed everything, I really did,” Jefferies said of his experience at the cookout. “I took home the first-place prize for the watermelon-eating contest, and that was cool.”
Watermelon certainly wasn’t all the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive tackle from Covington, Ga., and his fellow guests ate.
“We had so much to eat,” Jefferies said. “Snowcones, pretzels with cheese, pulled-chicken nacho bar, barbeque, hamburgers, like 10 drink choices including homemade lemonade — the list just goes on. Everything was delicious.”
As good as the food was, what Jefferies enjoyed most was simply spending time with the other prospects, Clemson’s current players and coaching staff.
“The highlight of the experience for me was the time I spent with my future teammates and future coaches,” he said. “It is so great the way the players really hang out with us and really appreciate us being there and look forward to what we will be able to contribute.
“I am also always grateful for the relationships with all the coaches. Of course coach (Todd) Bates and coach V (Brent Venables) are my guys, but no matter the position or side of the ball, every coach has made it a priority to get to know me and my family on a personal level.”
Jefferies said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was very involved and engaged with those on hand throughout the evening.
“He is really a special kind of guy,” he said. “He hung out with us all day. Whatever we were doing he was right there.”
A few of the expected visitors were not able to make the cookout in five-star cornerback Anthony Cook, five-star offensive guard Jamaree Salyer and four-star offensive guard Trey Hill, but those who were there all enjoyed themselves.
That includes a pair of prospects the Tigers are targeting, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage cornerback Tyson Campbell and Butler (Ga.) Taylor County running back Lyn-J Dixon, a Tennessee commitment.
“They seemed to be having a great time and fit in really well with the rest of us,” Jefferies said.
Jefferies doesn’t know how their recruitments will ultimately end up but believes Clemson’s “secret weapon” was in effect at the cookout.
“Yesterday was so layed back and chill, it seemed like no recruiting was going on. But that’s really Clemson’s secret weapon,” he said. “That’s how they get you. They really just lay everything on the table, not the perfect recruiting pitch you see at a lot of places. So I’m sure they saw and felt it, and they will know if it’s right for them.”
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