Tigers position themselves to win more championships with another top 10 recruiting class
When Clemson ripped Alabama for 44 points in a 28-point victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last month, everyone in college football took notice.
Because the Tigers scored those 44 points with mostly freshmen and sophomores.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 singing class, won MVP honors after throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-32 passing. Fellow freshman Justyn Ross had six catches for 153 yards and caught one touchdown.
Sophomores Travis Etienne and Tee Higgins also got into the act. Etienne scored three touchdowns overall while running for 86 yards, while Higgins caught three passes for 81 yards and scored a touchdown.
Sophomore cornerback A.J. Terrell also got into the act with a pick-six on Alabama’s opening possession. Freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas had three tackles, including a half-sack.
So, it is obvious Clemson’s young players are extremely talented and will be even better next season.
But the Tigers run on talent is not going to end with the 2018 class. Dabo Swinney and his assistant coaches are finishing up a 2019 class that will rival this past year’s freshman class.
Clemson heads into National Signing Day with one or two more players to wrap up the class. In all, counting those who signed in December, the Tigers have 28 players committed or signed.
Once again, it is another impressive class, headlined by 5-star wide receiver Ngata from Folsom, Calif., and 5-star defensive back Andrew Booth.
The Tigers signed 24 of their commitments on Dec. 19, plus added signatures from Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva four-star defensive tackle Tyler Davis and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) three-star offensive lineman Kaleb Boateng.
They received their 27th player on Dec. 20 when 4-star offensive lineman Will Putnam of Tampa, Fla.
Clemson heads into National Signing Day ranked No. 8 by Rivals.com, No. 9 by ESPN and No. 9 by 247Sports’ composite rankings.
“I don’t think present-day rankings really matter that much because that’s on potential. I think the rest of it’s based on performance,” Swinney said. “We’ve never signed the number-one ranked recruiting class since I’ve been the head coach in 10 years, but yet we’re second or third in wins over the last 10 years. So, I think that speaks to the evaluation and the development that we have in place here in our program. But I think this group will turn out to be special and can’t wait to see what they do over the next four or five years.”
Clemson’s 2019 class is not only deep and talented, but also geographically diverse. There are 14 different states represented in the class, the most since Danny Ford’s last class in 1989 that also had 14.
“I think that is an amazing reflection of the strength of our brand,” Swinney said. “All these kids that have grown up watching Clemson and watching the success of our program on and off the field, and they want to come see it and they want to come be a part of it. We all know that when a guy comes to Clemson, they realize this is a special place. So, it’s been really neat for me to travel around to so many different places and kind of validate and see firsthand why they chose us. Because when I go and I see their environment and their type of families, it’s very easy for me to see and get why exactly they chose Clemson – they felt like we were a good fit for them.”
Sixteen of the 27 signees are mid-year enrollees and will participate in spring practice.
“We’ve got a really talented team coming back that’s going to be a lot of fun to coach, so the 16 mid-years is huge for us because we have all these guys that are obviously moving on,” Swinney said. “So, just from a functionality of practice, to be able to have 16 new guys out there that are getting a head start as opposed to having to wait for the whole class to get here in the summer.
“I think that really is going to pay huge dividends and allow us to have the competitive depth that we need to keep moving our program forward.”
Twelve of Clemson’s 27 signees to this point are rated as 4- or 5-star prospects according to Rivals, while 11 of the signees are ranked among the top 300 prospects nationally per 247Sports.
With Michel Dukes verbally committed and expected to sign today, the Tigers will have 28 signatures, marking the second largest class in the Swinney era. Only the 2011 Class was bigger, which signed 29.
The 2011 Class signed guys like Sammy Watkins, Stephone Anthony, Grady Jarrett, Adam Humphries, Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant … all guys still playing at a high level in the NFL.
“You think about what they accomplished in ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14 and ’15 for our fifth-year seniors, like a B.J. Goodson for example… It’s amazing what that class went on to do, and that’s really how I measure those guys,” Swinney said. “Adam Humphries was in that class, and he was one of those guys on signing day, everybody was like, ‘Why are y’all signing that guy?’ And ole Adam Humphries turned out pretty good and is making a pretty good living playing pro football. And vice-versa – Sammy Watkins. Pretty good guy to sign too, and it was as advertised. I think time tells ultimately how you did.”
Move over Alabama, Clemson is the new King of College Football. In our new magazine “Little Ole Clemson”: The Best “Little” Dynasty Ever, we examine not just the 2018 team’s run to being “the best ever” but examine the last four seasons and how Dabo Swinney turned Clemson into the new dynasty of college football. We also take a look at the role former athletic director Terry Don Phillips played. We go behind the scenes at the Tigers’ run to a second national championship in three seasons and the previous three national championship runs. It also features stories on the Power Rangers, the 2018 senior class, high quality photos and much, much more.
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