As Clemson looks to close out its 2021 recruiting class in strong fashion, it is also beginning to lay the groundwork for the 2022 class as evidenced by its numerous offers to rising junior recruits since June 1.
In our Looking Ahead series, The Clemson Insider gives a position-by-position overview of the top remaining targets in the current cycle and looks ahead to some of the names to know in the 2022 class.
In this article, we focus on offensive linemen:
Clemson holds commitments from a pair of offensive linemen in four-stars Ryan Linthicum and Marcus Tate, and the Tigers are looking to round out their 2021 O-line class by landing an elite tackle or two.
The two tackles who have been in Clemson’s crosshairs as priority targets are Fairfax (Va.) Robinson five-star Tristan Leigh and Lititz (Pa.) Warwick five-star Nolan Rucci.
Leigh is ranked as the No. 13 overall prospect in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, while Rucci checks in right behind him at No. 14 nationally.
Last month, Leigh released a top 15 comprised of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Southern Cal, UCF, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Clemson has been at the forefront of Leigh’s recruitment as one of the top contenders since extending an offer to him when he was on campus for the program’s elite junior day in January. The Tigers also hosted him as an unofficial visitor for the Florida State game last October.
While Clemson is in a strong spot with Leigh right now, he is still a ways away from making his decision as he wants to take visits after the NCAA’s dead period is lifted before he commits, and on-campus recruiting remains suspended through at least July 31. LSU might be Clemson’s biggest competition, though schools such as Oklahoma, Ohio State and Alabama are all squarely in the mix as well.
Like Leigh, Rucci visited Clemson for the FSU game last season. He then returned to campus for a more comprehensive, multi-day visit in March when he was able to tour the academic facilities and sit down with an academic advisor. Academics are very important to Rucci, who is interested in being an engineering major.
The visit strengthened the Tigers’ standing with Rucci, and in April, he named Clemson one of his top nine schools along with Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford and Wisconsin.
Clemson, Penn State and Wisconsin are viewed as the frontrunners for Rucci, whose father, Todd, was an O-lineman for the Nittany Lions and older brother, Hayden, is a redshirt freshman tight end for the Badgers.
Penn State has long been considered the favorite to eventually score Rucci’s commitment, but Clemson and Wisconsin are legitimately in the mix. Before the pandemic hit, Rucci had hoped to render a decision before his senior season but may end up delaying his commitment until during the season if need be.
A few other offensive linemen the Tigers have been involved with in the 2021 cycle are Cochran (Ga.) Bleckley County five-star Amarius Mims, Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian four-star Dietrick Pennington and Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglass four-star Jager Burton.
Georgia and Alabama are the most serious challengers for Mims, while Kentucky and Ohio State are the top two teams battling it out for Burton. Pennington announced a top five of Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and LSU at the end of May.
Looking ahead to the next cycle, Clemson has offered five offensive linemen in the 2022 class thus far, all of whom are listed as tackles: Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep’s Julian Armella, Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian School’s Addison Nichols, Daleville (Va.) Lord Botetourt’s Gunner Givens, Strongsville (Ohio)’s Blake Miller and Greenville (S.C.)’s Collin Sadler.
Armella is rated as a five-star recruit by Rivals. Nichols (No. 61 overall) and Givens (No. 137 overall) are ranked as top-150 national prospects per 247Sports.
TCI caught up with all five of the aforementioned O-linemen about their recent offers from the Tigers. You can find our interviews with them here:
Julian Armella – Offer Story
Gunner Givens – Offer Story
Blake Miller – Offer Story
Addison Nichols – Offer Story
Collin Sadler – Offer Story
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