Four-star tight end Luke Deal returned to Clemson last Thursday for what was an unofficial “official” visit, if you will.
The Greenwood (S.C.) Emerald standout made the short trip to Clemson with his family. While it wasn’t technically an official visit, it was essentially that.
With Deal preparing to render a decision next month, he and his family enjoyed a comprehensive and personal experience on campus, spending ample time with the coaching staff as they were shown everything the Tigers have to offer.
“We got a tour of the whole place,” Deal told The Clemson Insider. “My mom actually came this time. She had never gotten a tour of anything at Clemson, so it was a first for her. We toured the academic facilities and went around campus. The athletic facility, obviously it’s great. I’ve been there a couple times, but my mom hasn’t. We checked out the apartments for the freshmen football players and a couple things like that. Then we ate lunch and talked to coach (Dabo) Swinney again and coach (Danny) Pearman.
“Like I said it was a first for my mom, so it was good, and it’s always good to be back on campus.”
Swinney and his program didn’t disappoint Deal’s mom as she checked things out for the first time.
“She was super impressed,” Deal said. “I mean you see the facilities and you walk around campus… It’s beautiful, but I think what she was really impresssed with — which is also what I am most impressed with every time I go — is just talking to coach Swinney. You can tell how he’s built that program the right way and the way that a lot of schools are modeling after. He established something a long time ago when he got there, and it’s just building every day. Everybody’s got the same mindset, same goal.
“The big thing for us… I grew up in a Christian home, so to talk to a man who’s open about his faith, it’s pretty cool because he can just sit there and talk to you about that kind of stuff and not be worried about anything. That’s big for my mom, too.”
Deal (6-5, 235) has visited Clemson several times. Prior to last week’s visit, he stopped by to watch a spring practice on March 2 after receiving an offer from Clemson four days earlier.
This time around, he and his family ate lunch with Pearman and Mike Reed before meeting with Swinney for about 45 minutes.
“Their message really was they need tight ends, and they think a big, physical tight end like me can kind of change the offense and add another dimension to the offense,” Deal said. “They just really want me bad at that position.
“Also, they told me to go out and venture out into some other areas that I haven’t been to before, and compare. Coach Pearman stressed to me that at the end of the day, you’re not going to need to please me, you’re not going to need to please your family or anybody else in your life — you need to please yourself. It’s going to be a decision that I need to make personally, and whatever decision I make is going to be the best one because it’s going to be the one that I choose.”
“But they were also saying that they’d love to see me in that orange,” Deal added, laughing.
Deal stayed the night with Clemson tight ends Garrett Williams and Cannon Smith on Thursday before departing Friday.
“It was pretty cool just sitting down with guys who’ve had kind of the same situation as me as far as recruiting and football,” Deal said. “Just sitting down and talking with them and spending quality time with them, it was pretty cool simply because those guys were recruited by kind of the same schools that I’m being recruited by. I had a great time with those guys.”
Deal has set a commitment date of May 25. So, he is planning to take several official visits this month ahead of his decision.
NC State will get the first official visit this weekend, followed by Michigan the weekend of April 14 and Notre Dame from April 16-18. Deal is working to arrange an official visit to Ohio State as well but has not yet scheduled a date.
Along with Clemson, Deal made unofficial visits to North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech last week.
The upcoming officials could be Deal’s final visits, though he didn’t rule out the possibility of going back to Auburn, Maryland and/or Clemson.
“The schools that I’ve already visited and these next ones that I’ve planned officials for, those are going to be the ones that I’m going to focus on,” Deal said. “I don’t know if I have any top five or six or anything right now, but I’m going to start narrowing it down pretty quick. I’m going to have to get this thing rolling.”
Deal is searching for the right fit as he evaluates his options and intends to pick a place where he will win.
“Not only fitting in on paper, just fitting in all around — fitting in with the players, the coaches, the atmosphere, the culture, and something that sets me up for success after football,” Deal said of what he is looking for in a school.
“Also, I love to win. So, wherever I go — if they’ve been successful in the past or if they’re going to be successful — we’re going to win.”