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’ quarterback recruiting.
Clemson ideally likes to have four or five quarterbacks on scholarship, and it has four right now: senior Kelly Bryant, freshman Trevor Lawrence, redshirt freshman Chase Brice and freshman Ben Batson.
Bryant will of course play his final season of eligibility in 2018. Clemson holds one commitment from a quarterback in the 2019 class in Avon (Conn.) Old Farms four-star Taisun Phommachanh, one of the country’s top-ranked dual-threats.
The plan for the Tigers was to sign two quarterbacks in the 2019 class, and they had pursued a couple of other signal-callers since Phommachanh committed in April, before those prospects committed elsewhere. Their latest target was Midlothian (Va.) Manchester three-star Brendon Clark, who pledged to Notre Dame in early July.
Per a source, Clemson is still deciding whether to take a second quarterback in the current cycle. Depending on various circumstances, they might stand pat with one or they might take one more.
Although the Tigers could potentially go after another quarterback later in this cycle, their quarterback recruiting efforts are perhaps more focused right now on a premier prospect in the 2020 class: Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco five-star D.J. Uiagalelei, the No. 1 overall player in his class according to Rivals.
Clemson extended an offer to Uiagalelei when he was on campus for the Dabo Swinney Camp in June. The Tigers made a major impression during the visit; Uiagalelei told TCI that it was “the best visit I’ve had by far.” “Just the culture and the people and the coaches there was amazing,” he said. “I had a great feeling there with all the coaches, and just to get to see it, to experience it and experience everything they had there was really cool.”
Uiagalelei told us after the visit that he was planning to return to Clemson for a game in September. He has made trips to LSU, Arizona State, Alabama and Georgia this year as well.
It’s still early in his recruitment and he hasn’t yet named any favorites, but Clemson has positioned itself well with Uiagalelei early on. His offer sheet also includes Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Southern Cal, Florida State, Ohio State and many others.
Uiagalelei wasn’t the only 2020 quarterback offered by Clemson during the Swinney Camp. Dallas (Texas) Highland Park’s Chandler Morris, the son of Arkansas head coach and former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, picked up an offer following a strong performance at the camp on June 5 and 6.
Clemson got the ball rolling for Morris, who has since received other offers from Arkansas and Auburn. It will be tough for a school to beat out Chad Morris for his son’s services, but Dabo Swinney and Clemson may have the best shot of any.
Other quarterbacks in the 2020 class we’re tracking include but aren’t limited to Myrtle Beach (S.C.)’s Luke Doty; Hoover (Ala.)’s Robby Ashford; Cartersville (Ga.)’s Tee Webb; Marietta (Ga.)’s Harrison Bailey; Simpsonville (S.C.) Southside Christian’s J.W. Hertzberg; Atlanta (Ga.) Woodward Academy’s Mike Wright; Spanish Fort (Ala.)’s Jackson Burkhalter; and Flowood (Miss.) Northwest Rankin’s Philip Short.
Doty carries offers from Auburn, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, NC State, North Carolina, Florida State and Miami, among others. He grew up a Clemson fan, has visited campus numerous times and returned again last month to compete at the Swinney Camp.
Webb — Trevor Lawrence’s successor at quarterback for Cartersville — also participated in the Swinney Camp, as did Hertzberg. Ashford made another visit to Clemson in June, and Bailey attended the Tigers’ junior day in March. Both Wright and Burkhalter attended a game at Death Valley in the fall.
A few class of 2021 quarterbacks to keep an eye on as it relates to Clemson are Bogart (Ga.) Prince Avenue Christian’s Brock Vandagriff, Charlotte (N.C.) Myers Park’s Drake Maye, Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern’s Carlos Del Rio and Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph’s Kyle McCord.
Vandagriff, Maye and Del Rio all competed at the Swinney Camp, and McCord visited in June as well.
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