Tigers ‘definitely at the top’ for 5-star with Clemson connection

Tigers ‘definitely at the top’ for 5-star with Clemson connection


Tigers ‘definitely at the top’ for 5-star with Clemson connection


One of Clemson’s first offers to recruits in the rising junior class went out on June 1 to Jefferson (Ga.) athlete Malaki Starks, a five-star prospect and the No. 16 overall player in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

The Clemson Insider recently caught up with Starks to get an update on his recruitment. Though prospects are not allowed to make on-campus recruiting visits during the ongoing NCAA dead period that has been in effect since March due to COVID-19, Starks has been able to check out some schools through virtual visits while also staying in touch and building relationships with various coaches over the phone.

“Everything’s kind of been the same really,” he said of his recruitment. “Nobody can really get anywhere and take any visits, so I’ve just been doing virtual visits and talking with coaches and stuff like that.”

Starks has made virtual visits to Clemson, Florida State, Auburn and LSU, and he has been communicating regularly with coaches from all of those programs along with a number of others.

“I’d have to say like Georgia, Clemson, FSU, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee,” Starks said of the schools that he’s in contact with most often. “There’s a lot.”

Clemson is recruiting Starks as a safety, and thus safeties coach Mickey Conn is heading his recruitment for the Tigers.

“He wants me to know that I’m a big priority for Clemson football and that I would fit really well in their defense,” Starks said, “and that I would be a really good fit at Clemson.”

Starks has not had a chance to visit Clemson in person yet but took a virtual tour of the university a couple of weeks ago to get a better idea of what the Tigers have to offer, and he came away impressed by what he saw.

“Man, I loved it. … It was special,” he said.

Clemson is among the schools Starks has in mind for actual in-person visits whenever the dead period ends. All recruiting travel remains suspended through at least the end of this month.

“I definitely want to get out to Clemson,” he said. “I want to go back to Georgia, go back to Bama. I would love to go to LSU, love to go to Auburn, Tennessee, USC. There’s a lot. Notre Dame … I really want to get everywhere, really.”

It is still early in the process for Starks, who says he hasn’t put a whole lot of thought into top schools to this point. However, Clemson is one he holds in very high regard.

Starks has a connection to Clemson’s football program as he has family members who played for the Tigers, including his uncle, Jerome Williams, a tight end under Danny Ford from 1986-89.

“They’re definitely at the top,” Starks said of where the Tigers stand with him in his recruitment. “Clemson has always been a school that I liked and my family has liked, and I have family who have played there. Me and Coach Conn have a really good relationship, and everybody I talk to on the phone up there is just really cool, so they’re definitely at the top.”

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