A five-star Clemson target on the West Coast was watching last week when the Tigers beat down Alabama in Santa Clara, Calif., to win the national championship.
Seattle (Wash.) Garfield defender Sav’ell Smalls – a top-five national prospect in the 2020 class per multiple services — was very impressed by Clemson’s 44-16 victory over the Crimson Tide that earned the Tigers their second national title in three seasons.
“It was extremely impressive,” Smalls told The Clemson Insider. “They definitely showed they’re going to be here to stay for many years to come.”
Smalls certainly took notice of Clemson’s stellar defensive performance. The Tigers limited a Tide offense that came in scoring 48 points per game to just 16 points, shutting them out over the final 44 minutes while intercepting Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa twice and returning one of those picks for a touchdown.
“It just looked fun,” Smalls said of Clemson defensively. “They were all flying around, playing physical, making plays and everybody was hype when their teammate was eating. It just looked like a defense everybody would love to play for.”
Smalls is a versatile edge-rusher that can line up at outside linebacker or get after the quarterback as a defensive end. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder believes he could make a seamless transition into Brent Venables’ defense if he were to play for the Tigers.
“I feel I can fit into any defensive scheme but Clemson’s would be very easy to get plugged into,” he said.
According to Smalls, he has been hearing from Clemson coaches “a lot” as the staff continues to recruit him hard. He picked up an offer from Clemson while on campus during the Dabo Swinney Camp in June, and plans to return to Tigertown for another visit sooner than later, though his schedule will keep him from attending Clemson’s elite junior day later this month.
“Definitely fixing to get back sometime soon,” he said. “I was going to go for the junior day but I have finals.”
In addition to Clemson, Smalls has stockpiled offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, Southern Cal, Stanford, Washington, Texas and numerous others.
Smalls said he is planning to make his decision this coming December and cited a few factors that will be important to him when he commits.
“How I fit in a place, culture and schematic wise,” he said, “and how much love they showed and if I thought it was real or not.”
Smalls is looking to release a list of his favorites soon, and Clemson appears a safe bet to make the cut.
“They’re gonna be in my top schools,” he said.
Smalls is ranked among the country’s top five prospects in the 2020 class by multiple major recruiting services. He is the No. 2 overall player according to 247Sports, while ESPN ranks him No. 4 nationally.