Clemson’s geographical recruiting reach during the 2019 cycle has extended as far and wide as ever. There are 14 different states represented in Dabo Swinney’s 27-member 2019 signing class, the most since Danny Ford’s last class in 1989 that also had 14.
The Tigers continue to recruit on a national level and even went all the way to California to sign a star prospect as part of the 2019 class in Joseph Ngata. When he enrolls at Clemson in January, the five-star wide receiver will be the first Clemson signee from California to matriculate to Clemson since Bobby Forbes in 1991.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jeff Scott served as Ngata’s primary recruiter and played a critical role in helping the Tigers land the prized recruit.
“This was the first time in 10 years that I’ve ever gone to California to recruit a prospect,” Scott told The Clemson Insider recently during an exclusive interview. “Coach Swinney really challenges us that if we’re going to go far away from South Carolina, then number one, it better be a special young man, and number two, it better be a special kind of franchise-type player.”
After being tipped off about Ngata’s talents by a coach of former Clemson and Oregon defensive tackle Scott Pagano, Clemson extended an offer to Ngata last January. Ngata first visited Clemson for its junior day last March, and Scott made a couple of long-distance trips to his school during the spring evaluation period.
Ngata returned to Clemson for the All In Cookout in July and committed shortly after over an offer from Washington – where his brother, Ariel, is a freshman linebacker – and schools such as Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Alabama.
“We actually had a coach of Scott Pagano that sent us his video because he knew one of the coaches at Folsom High School, and he sent the video to Coach Swinney,” Scott said. “Coach Swinney forwarded it to me and I checked it out and said well, let me see if I can get him on the phone. And after talking to him for about five minutes, I said hey, this guy’s pretty special.”
That he is. Ranked as high as the fifth-best receiver and No. 21 overall prospect in the 2019 class per Rivals, Ngata recorded 188 receptions for 3,682 yards and 55 touchdowns during his career at Folsom High School and had a touchdown catch in 36 of 42 career games.
As a senior, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder had 66 catches for 1,272 yards and 22 scores, a 19.3-yard average, and six 100-yard receiving games. The U.S. Army All-American led Folsom to the 2018 state championship with nine receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown catch in the title game. His touchdown came with under two minutes left in regulation and sent the game into overtime.
When he looks at Ngata, Scott says he is reminded of a couple of the best receivers in Clemson history.
“He’s very explosive, got great size,” Scott said of Ngata. “He reminds me of several of the guys that we’ve had in the past – DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins – kind of has a little bit of both of their traits. Also just a very unique young man. I’ve kind of said he’s very similar to Christian Wilkins at the wide receiver position, and I think that’s about as big of a compliment as you can have in our program.”