Among Clemson’s guests for its game against Wake Forest on Saturday was Mountain Brook (Ala.) 2019 running back A.J. Gates.
It marked the second visit to Clemson for Gates, who also attended the Tigers’ game against Syracuse last November.
“I loved it,” Gates said of Saturday’s visit. “I love the fans and the coaches. It feels like home already honestly.”
Gates (5-9, 175) is garnering interest from LSU and Mississippi State, and figures to get more attention on the recruiting trail moving forward.
He spoke in length with Clemson co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott on the sideline before the Tigers’ 28-14 win over the Demon Deacons.
“He was just saying stay humble and stay on top of my stuff,” Gates said, “and God has a plan for me, and either it’s at Clemson or somewhere else.”
Gates feels Elliott is someone he could build a strong relationship with.
“He’s a good coach. He loves what he’s doing, and he’s all about business,” Gates said. “He seems like a coach that I could have a great connection and a good bond with.”
As a sophomore last season, Gates averaged more than 7 yards per carry. Earlier this season, Gates ran nine times for 120 yards and two touchdowns against Hoover. Last Friday against Tuscaloosa County, he recorded a 12-yard touchdown run.
Gates is a compact runner and one of the fastest players in his area, traits that make him tough to tackle.
“I’m quick,” he said. “I can get north off of one cut, and I’m not scared to lower my shoulders and take a hit.”
Having been to Clemson a couple of times now, Gates has a good feel for the program.
He is high on the Tigers and hopes to continue hearing from them as his recruiting process progresses.
“I love the campus,” Gates said. “I love the way they treat the players and respect each other. I love coach Dabo (Swinney) and how he coaches. It’s a lot.”
Gates is teammates at Mountain Brook with 2018 four-star running back Harold Joiner, who visited Clemson for the Auburn game in September.