Lititz (Pa.) Warwick five-star prospect Nolan Rucci, one of the top offensive tackles in the 2021 class, came away impressed by his multi-day unofficial visit to Clemson at the end of last week. He arrived in town early Friday morning and departed from campus Sunday morning.
Rucci (6-8, 285) also visited Clemson to attend the Florida State game at Death Valley last October, but the latest visit really gave him a chance to see what the Tigers have to offer from an academic standpoint.
“It was awesome,” Rucci told The Clemson Insider. “We drove up Thursday night after school, and then I got in close to 1 a.m. It was a good 10-hour drive. But woke up Friday morning, actually got a chance to tour some of the academic facilities. We sat down with one of the advisers and talked about majors and stuff like that. I’m interested in engineering. Obviously it’s more of a rigorous workload than other majors, so we talked about how you balance that out with the football schedule, and it was cool to hear. They have guys on the team doing it. Obviously it’s a little bit extra work, but it’s cool to hear that it can be done. It was cool, the academic piece for Clemson, because last time I was here it was for the Florida State game in the fall.
“So, obviously you have to know a lot about the football program, but I think just being back the second time, I was really impressed with the academic portion that Clemson has. As good as they are at football and then as good as they are at academics, I was pretty impressed by that.”
On Saturday, Rucci took part in Clemson’s junior day festivities with a group of other top prospects. He was able to sit in on a position meeting with offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell and also spoke with head coach Dabo Swinney individually for nearly an hour.
“We woke up on Saturday and headed right for the facilities,” Rucci said. “Did a quick tour of campus, sat in on some position meetings with a couple of the other recruits. Just watching Caldwell interact with his guys … I like to see it personally because a lot of times you get to see Coach Swinney’s recruiting, but I like seeing a coach when he’s with his guys, when he’s in the zone. I was impressed. Then after that, we went out to practice and actually got a chance to sit down one-on-one with Coach Swinney, just my family and I, which was really cool. I think we talked for close to 45 minutes, and he is what you get. So, he’s a super genuine dude and I definitely appreciate the time he spent with us.”
What did Swinney and Rucci discuss during their lengthy meeting?
“We talked a lot about football, the recruiting process and just about finding the right fit,” Rucci said. “Because obviously I have a couple options as where I want to go, but at the end of the day, it’s me that decision’s going to be made by. Every school has cool facilities, nice jerseys, stuff like that. But what it really comes down to is the people in the locker room, the coaches and stuff like that you’re going to be around every day. Making decisions based off the right things is what we talked about a lot, so I definitely genuinely appreciate those conversations.”
Rucci went to Tennessee on Sunday following the Clemson visit and is planning to take some more unofficial and official visits before he makes his decision in the not-too-distant future.
“Starting in April, I can start taking some official visits. So I think right now, just getting on the road for some unofficials, even just for some closer places where it’s a drive,” he said. “So, trying to probably get those out of the way first so in April I can start taking some officials. I’m trying to get those out of the way so once I take all my visits, hopefully have a decision by the end of spring. So probably by like late June or early July.”
Getting Rucci back on campus certainly helped Clemson’s chances with him, and the Tigers have put themselves in a good spot as it stands now.
“I was really excited about my visit,” he said. “We had a great time up here with my family. Obviously the coaches and staff showed us a great time. I’d say Clemson’s sitting up pretty high right now. They really rolled it out for us, and I definitely appreciate that.”
Rucci is ranked as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 14 overall prospect in the 2021 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
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