After signing the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2020, per ESPN, Clemson is putting together a 2021 class that looks like it will be special as well. There is a long way to go before the cycle is over, but the Tigers currently own the No. 2 class in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, and they have a lot more upper-echelon talent in their crosshairs.
In our Looking Ahead series, The Clemson Insider takes a position-by-position look at the top targets on the Tigers’ board for the 2021 class. In this article, we focus on cornerbacks:
The Tigers are looking to take one more cornerback in this cycle after landing a commitment from Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett four-star Jordan Hancock a few days following his visit for their March 7 junior day.
One of the corners at the top of Clemson’s board is Pinson (Ala.) Valley five-star Ga’Quincy McKinstry, the top-ranked player at his position in the country according to 247Sports.
McKinstry (pictured above) most recently visited Clemson last September for the Texas A&M game and was planning to return this spring, but the Tigers will have to wait to get him on campus again since the NCAA has extended its recruiting dead period through May 31 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Alabama and Auburn are the chief contenders for McKinstry, so it won’t be easy to get him to leave the state. But Clemson is legitimate competition for the in-state suitors, while schools such as LSU, Georgia and Florida are also in the mix for McKinstry, who doesn’t appear close to a commitment anywhere.
Another five-star target for the Tigers is Virginia Beach (Va.) Princess Anne’s Tony Grimes, the No. 1 corner in the country per the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Like McKinstry, Grimes most recently visited Clemson for the Texas A&M game last season. The Tigers tried to get him back on campus for both of their junior days this year in January and March, but he wasn’t able to make the trip either time for various reasons. He has said in the past that Clemson would get one of his official visits, and it will be important for that to happen in order for the Tigers to have a real chance of landing him.
Right now, Clemson appears to have ground to make up against some other schools like Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State and Texas A&M. The good news is it seems there is plenty of time for the Tigers to do so as Grimes doesn’t plan to announce his decision until Dec. 1.
One cornerback the Tigers are in a good spot with right now is Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard three-star Ryan Barnes, whose recruitment has blown up since the turn of the calendar year with around two dozen programs throwing their hats in the ring with offers.
Clemson hosted Barnes for its March 7 junior day after offering him in February, and he told TCI recently that the Tigers are one of his top schools at this point in the process along with the likes of Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida State, Duke, South Carolina and Southern Cal.
Barnes wants to make his decision before his senior football season but says he is willing to commit sooner if he feels compelled to do so and has found the right fit.
Wiggins named a top 10 of Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee in February, while Ryan recently announced a top 10 of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, TCU and Tennessee.
Ryan, who plays all over the field for his high school team and can play multiple positions in the secondary, is viewed as an LSU lean. As for Wiggins, he has a couple of ties to Clemson as he hails from the same school as former Tiger corner A.J. Terrell and is now teammates with Clemson receiver commit Dacari Collins.
Some of the other cornerbacks in the class of 2021 we’re keeping an eye on as it relates to Clemson recruiting are Miami (Fla.) Palmetto five-star Jason Marshall, Covington (Ga.) Newton four-star Nyland Green, Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale three-star Philip Riley and Hollywood (Fla.) McArthur three-star Kevin Knowles.
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