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 end recruiting.
Clemson will lose senior defensive ends Austin Bryant, Chris Register and Richard Yeargin after the 2018 season. The Tigers will likely also lose defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who is expected to enter the NFL draft after his redshirt junior campaign.
However, the Tigers will return a lot of talent at D-end in 2019: Xavier Kelly, Justin Foster, Logan Rudolph, Xavier Thomas, K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll.
Clemson currently holds a pair of verbal commitments from prospects listed as defensive ends by the major recruiting services: River Rouge (Mich.) three-star Ruke Orhorhoro and Winder (Ga.) Barrow three-star Logan Cash. Both Orhorhoro and Cash could potentially slide inside to defensive tackle at the next level, though.
We think the Tigers will take a couple of defensive ends in the 2019 class, or possibly three if they opt to over-sign.
Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer three-star defensive end Colby Wooden will be a Tiger. The question is whether he will be a Tiger in the ACC or the SEC.
Wooden has said that he is down to Clemson and Auburn, with a decision announcement date set for mid-August.
Clemson offered Wooden in February. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder has visited campus a handful of times, most recently for the spring game in April after he attended the Tigers’ junior day in March. He has been to Auburn on several occasions, as well, and is slated to return there next weekend.
This one could go either way, as Wooden is still strongly considering both schools. Like Auburn, Clemson continues to recruit him hard. He is teammates at Archer with five-star cornerback Andrew Booth, who is expected to choose between Clemson and Auburn in the near future as well. So, there’s a chance the two could play together in college.
Clemson is also in contention for Thomaston (Ga.) Upson-Lee five-star Travon Walker. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables views him as a versatile defensive lineman capable of playing tackle and/or end at the next level. “He said with my athletic ability I could be kind of like Christian (Wilkins),” Walker told TCI recently. “He said I can range from inside to some outside stuff.”
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. He made his first official visit to South Carolina last month and plans to take other officials, though he hasn’t yet set any dates.
The consensus top-50 national prospect most recently visited Clemson for the Auburn game in September after competing at the Swinney Camp last summer.
Other defensive end prospects we’re keeping an eye on are Orlando (Fla.) Jones four-star Raymond Cutts, Columbia (S.C.) Gray Academy’s Dallaz Corbitt, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star Nolan Smith, a Georgia commitment, and Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage four-star Mike Morris, a Florida State commit.
Looking ahead, Clemson has already extended offers to a number of defensive ends in the class of 2020.
Some of those are Sanford (N.C.) Lee County five-star Desmond Evans; Damascus (Md.) five-star Bryan Bresee; Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove five-star Myles Murphy; Seattle (Wash.) Garfield five-star Sav’ell Smalls; Orange Park (Fla.) Oakleaf four-star Chantz Williams; Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day four-star Jacolbe Cowan; Columbia (S.C.) Hammond School four-star Jordan Burch; and Cincinnati (Ohio) Princeton four-star Darrion Henry.
All of the aforementioned recruits have made at least one visit to Clemson.
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!