As the strength of Clemson’s brand has grown in recent years, so has its recruiting footprint. During the early signing period in December, the Tigers inked 27 signees from 14 different states – tied for the most different states in a class on record in school history.
In the 2019 class, Dabo Swinney signed players from the states of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan — and even as far away as California — for the first time in his tenure as Clemson’s head coach. Four-star wide receiver Joseph Ngata became the first signee from California to come to Clemson since 1991, when Bobby Forbes signed with the Tigers.
Clemson is again looking to grab a couple of the Golden State’s best prospects in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Of course, one of the Tigers’ top targets is five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.
He isn’t the only five-star from the state that Clemson has its eye on, though, as the Tigers and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott are also keeping tabs on Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan’s Kendall Milton, the country’s No. 2 running back.
“Me and Coach Elliott, we have a good relationship,” Milton told The Clemson Insider. “I’ve been able to get on the phone with him a lot and be able to form a relationship. I’ve been in good contact with Clemson.”
“From what I know about him, he’s a great coach,” Milton added of Elliott. “He develops running backs and gets them to the next level, which is a big part for me, and he’s a great family guy. He’s focused on his players more as people than as players. So, that’s something big to me.”
Milton (6-1, 215) is ranked as a top-15 overall national prospect in the 2020 class by all of the major recruiting services. He has amassed 40 offers, with prestigious programs like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Southern Cal and many others comprising his long list of college options.
Clemson has not offered a running back in the 2020 class to date, in part because the Tigers haven’t yet finished their running back recruiting for the 2019 cycle. Plus, Elliott has been known to take things slowly at the position, though he has made it clear to Milton that he is firmly on the Tigers’ board.
“He let me know that the Tigers are for sure 100-percent interested in me,” Milton said. “He said before they extend the offer, he wants me to be able to go down there and see the school for myself so I can get a better understanding and feel more comfortable.”
Milton intends to do just that and told TCI he could possibly visit Clemson as early as “around the springtime.”
“I’m for sure planning on taking a visit to Clemson,” he said. “I haven’t set a complete date yet, but it is for sure in the making.”
Though he has never been to Clemson before, Milton has kept an eye on the Tigers from afar and thinks highly of the school and program.
“I’ve already seen Clemson’s a great school,” he said. “They have strong academics and they produce a lot to the NFL, so I have nothing but love for the program, and I can’t wait to see where this recruiting process and the relationships take it.”
Milton, who recently visited Oregon, named Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio State as other schools he is looking to check out moving forward. He cited Ohio State, LSU, Georgia and Oklahoma as those recruiting him the hardest right now, and said he wants to commit by the early signing period this December.
What will be the most important factors in his future college decision?
“I would say playing time’s a big part, also the academic strength as well as the networking after football,” he said.
As a junior in 2018, Milton rushed for 1,337 yards while averaging 7.7 yards per carry and scoring 27 touchdowns.
Asked to describe his strengths as a running back, Milton replied, “I feel like I’m a game-changer. I can shift the game, shift momentum. I feel like I can be an every-down back — be that pound-it, physical back, but also that break-a-long-run back. So, I feel like the program would be getting an all-around playmaker.”