One of the marquee recruits that Clemson welcomed to Death Valley last weekend was elite 2020 defensive back R.J. Mickens.
The four-star standout from Southlake (Texas) Carroll attended the Tigers’ 77-16 win against Louisville on Saturday. It marked the first game-day visit to Clemson for Mickens, who spoke with The Clemson Insider about his experience afterward.
“It was a pretty impressive crowd for it being not so big of a game, not like a huge-name game,” he said. “It was a pretty impressive crowd.”
Mickens (6-1, 190) is ranked as one of the top 60 junior recruits in the country, regardless of position, by all of the major recruiting services. He arrived to Clemson on Saturday morning and departed early Sunday.
“The highlight of the visit was watching and breaking down the defense and talking to the coaches after the game, and getting to hear coach (Dabo Swinney) talk in the locker room before the game was pretty cool,” Mickens said. “That was probably the highlight.”
Mickens spent extensive time after the game with cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and safeties coach Mickey Conn. What did he hear from the coaches?
“Just how things are done down there and how I would fit in and just what they think of me and what they teach pretty much,” he said. “Coach Reed was teaching me some of the things that he teaches the corners up there, and me and coach Conn got to talk for a long time, kind of bond.”
Mickens also had a chance to chop it up with some of Clemson’s players, including freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas and freshman cornerback Mario Goodrich.
“Xavier, he’s a big, fast dude, runs like a 4.4,” Mickens said. “He rotates, plays a lot as a freshman, and Mario’s obviously young too.”
Mickens was accompanied on the visit by his father, Ray, a former All-American defensive back at Texas A&M in the 1990s who went on to play in the NFL.
According to the younger Mickens, his dad is fond of what he has learned about Clemson’s program as well.
“He likes it up there a lot,” he said. “He likes what they teach and their core values and how everything’s run down there.”
Clemson extended a scholarship offer to Mickens back in January. He has over two dozen offers in total featuring the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M.
Mickens cited Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon, Georgia and LSU as some of the schools recruiting him the hardest. The junior is still in the process of mapping out when he would like to make his decision.
“I haven’t really set a time, but I would like to have narrowed it down probably by maybe after the spring,” he said.
Prior to Saturday, Mickens visited Clemson this past summer and in the summer of 2017 as well.
Where do the Tigers stand with the Lone Star State blue-chipper following last weekend’s visit?
“They’re really high on my list,” he said. “The people there and the school itself… The people there are really good. The coaches are good people. Just everyone on the staff is really positive, so it’s just a good vibe.”
According to Mickens, Clemson isn’t recruiting him specifically as a cornerback or safety but simply as a defensive back. He said distance won’t be “too much of a factor” in his ultimate decision.
Through nines games as a junior this season, Mickens has recorded 43 total tackles, a sack, one interception, two pass deflections and a caused fumble. He has also caught 21 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a score on offense as well.