April 6 was a special day for R.J. Mickens, one he will never forget.
That is when the nation’s top-ranked safety gave his verbal commitment to Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney before the Orange & White spring game at Death Valley.
“I had went up there planning on committing and telling coach (Swinney),” Mickens told TCI recently. “So, they were setting me up to meet with him in his office at the stadium before the spring game. I went over there and met with him, Coach (Brent) Venables and Coach (Mickey) Conn. It was just us, and my mom and my dad were in the room, too, and I just made it official. (Coach Swinney) was fired up, jumped out of his seat, fired up. It was a great moment.”
Mickens (6-1, 190) had offers to play for Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida and Miami, among other major programs.
But after visiting Clemson several times throughout the recruiting process, the Southlake (Texas) Carroll standout knew without a doubt that he wanted to be a Tiger.
“The timing was right. I just felt like I was ready to make that decision,” Mickens said. “I have a great relationship with the coaches, with Coach Conn and Coach Swinney and Coach Venables, Coach (Mike) Reed, all those guys. We’ve been building it for the past year and a half, almost two years. So, building that relationship definitely helped.
“And then just seeing how they develop young men – not just football players. They’re really good with their faith and character. Winning national championships is great, but they’re really good with people, too, so I like that.”
Mickens, the son of former Texas A&M All-American and NFL defensive back Ray Mickens, says his parents are fully on board with Clemson as well.
“My parents love it,” he said. “They’re actually looking at places over there. They’re in love with the area up there. They love the coaches, love the school.”
The No. 1 safety and No. 41 overall prospect in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite, Mickens is a versatile defensive back and has a good idea of how he’ll be used in the secondary at Clemson.
“I’ve been talking to coach Conn for a while, just learning some terminology of the positions,” he said. “From what we’ve been talking, I’ll probably be playing that strong safety, which is the high guy and the one who is more in coverage. And if something happens, corner. But I’m versatile. I can play all the positions on the back end, something I take pride in.”
Mickens plans to attend Clemson’s annual All In Cookout this summer. He is All In with the Tigers and very excited to be a member of the Clemson family.
“I couldn’t be more happy to be a part of the family,” he said. “It’s going to be great. They do a great job developing players and people, so I can’t wait to be a part of it, something special.”