Fairfield (Ohio) five-star Jackson Carman, the nation’s top-ranked offensive tackle, shocked many on the first day of the early signing period Wednesday when he turned down in-state powerhouse Ohio State in favor of Clemson and inked with the Tigers.
Reflecting on Clemson’s major coup a day later, Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said Carman’s recruitment was very reminiscent of Christian Wilkins in his mind.
Close to three years earlier in January 2015, Clemson pulled off a similar feat when it landed a commitment from Wilkins, a five-star defensive lineman ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Connecticut and a top-25 prospect nationally.
Like Carman, Wilkins chose Clemson over numerous other offers and didn’t let geography get in the way of making the decision that he felt was best for him.
“Recruiting Jackson kind of reminded me of Christian Wilkins,” Scott said. “Christian Wilkins had all of these great programs around him, and for him to fly over all of those to come to Clemson, I think it is because he was able to see the things that were special about Clemson. Not only see that, but he put value in that. I really think that was a big difference for Jackson Carman.”
Carman, the top-ranked player in Ohio, faced tremendous external pressure from peers and fans to stay at home and play college ball for the Buckeyes. Plus, Urban Meyer isn’t used to being rejected on the recruiting trail — especially by in-state recruits.
But as was the case with Wilkins — who also considered Ohio State one of his top schools during the recruiting process — Carman didn’t mind being different or leaving home for a different region of the country.
“For him, the easiest thing might have been to stay close to home,” Scott said. “But I really think he was able to see that there was something special down here and he wanted to be a part of that.”
Carman made merely two visits to Clemson: his official visit earlier this month, and an unofficial visit in the spring. Neither was a game-day visit, so the first time Carman experiences the atmosphere in Death Valley will be when he suits up for the Tigers next season.
Carman’s visits were brief, though they made a big impression on him. He felt comfortable on campus, in Clemson’s culture, and that made his decision to leave home much easier.
“In all my years of recruiting, I can’t remember anybody that had been to Clemson only two times,” Scott said. “He had two quick visits to Clemson. Being that highly rated as a player, for him to choose Clemson, I think that meant his visits here were very powerful.”
Scott sees a lot of Wilkins in Carman from a personality standpoint, as well. Both are special individuals and extraordinarily talented people, not just football players.
Carman isn’t your typical 300-plus-pound offensive lineman. He’s articulate, likes to draw, cook and can play several different instruments. He even learned how to play the guitar by ear.
“He reminds me a lot of Christian,” Scott said of Carman. “He’s got a lot of talents, and he’s a very unique individual. Very smart, intelligent and has a lot to him off the field. I think that helped us.”