By Hale McGranahan.
SANTEE – James Valdez appreciates what Clemson did for his profile as a prospect in the class of 2016.
The Lake Marion High School junior credits his arrival on the recruiting landscape to the 2013 Dabo Swinney Football Camp and the interest that came with that.
“Clemson was the first school to recruit me, so I expected them to be the first to offer, but they didn’t offer,” Valdez said, during an interview with TheClemsonInsider.
Over a year later, he’s still waiting on the word from Tigertown.
“USC jumped on me and offered me, so Clemson kind of put me on the map,” Valdez said. “I’m still interested if they offer — to see what it is like. Other than that, I’m just still playing ball.”
A four-star cornerback (Scout), Valdez does some options. In addition to South Carolina, Tennessee, UNC and N.C. State have offered.
The Vols pulled the trigger about a month ago.
“I wasn’t expecting that offer. It’s a great offer. It was a great feeling getting that offer. I’m going to visit sometime to see how it is,” Valdez said.
Valdez visited several college campuses over the summer: Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
“The two campuses that stood out the most were Florida State and South Carolina,” he said. “Those are some big, nice campuses. I enjoyed being there. It was a great experience being at those camps.”
Clemson expected to see him workout at wide receiver and cornerback during Dabo Camp 2014, but circumstances dictated otherwise.
“I went at receiver first, (and) then when I was at receiver, I kind of hurt my knee, so I was done for the camp,” Valdez said. “I sat out and told them I would be back the next time they want to see me.”
While in town, he caught up with Lake Marion grad Mike Williams and Jadar Johnson, who went to nearby Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
“They were saying to be patient. They want me up there with them. They were (telling me) to come to a couple of games, because they were going to have a good season this year,” Valdez said, “So I’m going to see what it’s like up there.”
As a sophomore, Valdez had 51 tackles and seven pass breakups. He also caught 32 passes for 625 yards with eight touchdowns; and rushed 24 times for 310 yards and four scores.