In our “Looking Ahead” feature, The Clemson Insider takes a position-by-position look at where Clemson stands with targets in the 2019 class and beyond.
In this article, we look ahead at the Tigers’ defensive tackle recruiting.
Clemson will lose senior defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Albert Huggins after the upcoming season, while Dexter Lawrence is widely expected to enter the NFL draft following his junior season as a projected first-round pick.
Assuming Lawrence declares for the draft, the Tigers will return just three scholarship defensive tackles for the 2019 season: Nyles Pinckney, Jordan Williams and Darnell Jefferies. So, defensive tackle is clearly a position of need for Clemson in the 2019 recruiting class.
The Tigers hold a commitment from defensive tackle Tayquon Johnson, while defensive end pledges Ruke Orhorhoro and Logan Cash could both potentially slide inside at the next level. Clemson also has an early commitment from a defensive tackle in the 2020 class, Demonte Capehart.
Clemson appears likely to take at least three true defensive tackles in this cycle.
One of Clemson’s priority targets at defensive tackle is Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva four-star Tyler Davis, who is ranked as high as the No. 57 overall prospect in the 2019 class by ESPN.
Davis, who received an offer from Clemson in February, visited campus with a tour group of prospects from Florida during the first session of the Dabo Swinney Camp in early June. He then returned to Clemson a week later, accompanied by his father, for a one-day workout during the Swinney Camp’s second session.
Clemson is contending with Ohio State and schools such as Miami and Florida State for Davis’ commitment. If he doesn’t make his decision before his senior season, Davis plans to commit during it.
The Tigers are also among the favorites for Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis five-star defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele and Mansfield (Texas) Legacy three-star defensive tackle Enoch Jackson.
Tuitele, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle, visited Clemson for the first time last summer. In May, he named Clemson one of his top five schools along with Washington, Texas, Alabama and Ohio State. Look for Clemson to try to get him back on campus for an official visit in the fall.
Jackson, meanwhile, announced a top three of Arkansas, Clemson and Texas Tech last week. Clemson offered him in late May.
Riverside (Mo.) Park Hill South three-star Etinosa Reuben also picked up an offer from Clemson in May and continues to be pursued by the Tigers, who hope to get both him and Jackson on campus for the All In Cookout later this month.
Another target the Tigers are hoping to attract to the All In Cookout is Thomaston (Ga.) Upson-Lee five-star Travon Walker. Clemson views him as a versatile defensive lineman capable of playing both inside and outside.
Walker is working with a top five comprised of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina, and intends to render his decision sooner than later. The consensus top-50 national prospect most recently visited Clemson for the Auburn game in September after competing at the Swinney Camp last summer.
Clemson’s latest defensive tackle offer went out to Wake Forest (N.C.)’s Jaden McKenzie in early July, a day after Ohio State offered. McKenzie hails from the same school as Dexter Lawrence and played with him there for a year. The Tigers and Buckeyes joined North Carolina,Wake Forest, Duke, South Carolina, Tennessee and others on his offer sheet.
A couple of defensive tackle prospects committed elsewhere that we’re keeping an eye on are Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar four-star Derick Hunter and Converse (Texas) Judson’s DeMarvin Leal. Hunter visited Clemson in mid-June before committing to Florida State a few days later. Leal pledged to Texas A&M in April, but there are questions surrounding the strength of both his and Hunter’s commitments.
Looking ahead to the 2020 class, just some of the defensive tackles we’re tracking are Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College High four-star Tre Williams; Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern’s Jamil Burroughs; Dallas (Texas) Carter four-star Branard Wright; Sebastian (Fla.) River four-star Timothy Smith; Conway (S.C.) four-star Tonka Hemingway; and Columbia (S.C.) Hammond School four-star Alex Huntley.
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