Messages from college football coaches and mail from major programs flooded the phone and mailbox of five-star lineman Gunner Givens on Sept. 1, the first day coaches and schools could directly contact and send recruiting materials to prospects in the class of 2022.
“It’s been wild,” Givens said to The Clemson Insider regarding his recruitment since the start of this month. “I woke up the morning of Sept. 1, had 180 (text) messages and like 100 Twitter DMs (direct messages). Then I walk outside, go to my mailbox and I open my mailbox, it literally just pours out of it. It was crazy. It was a good experience. It’s kind of died down since that first day, but it’s still definitely pretty wild.”
Among the many coaches from around the country who have reached out to Givens since Sept. 1 are Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell, defensive coordinator Brent Venables and defensive tackles coach Todd Bates.
The Tigers are recruiting the Daleville (Va.) Lord Botetourt standout as simply a lineman who, should he choose to play for Clemson, could line up on either side of the trenches depending on how much he weighs when he graduates.
“I’ve talked to Coach Bates, Coach Caldwell and Coach Venables,” Givens said. “Those are the three that I mainly talk to, and they usually just call, check in on my family, make sure everybody’s doing OK and stuff like that.”
“I have a good relationship with Caldwell and Venables,” he added. “I’ve been talking to them for a while now. My relationship with Coach Bates is kind of newer. We just recently started texting, but I have a good relationship with all three of them. I think they’re all three great people and great coaches.”
Givens, who has amassed more than 40 scholarship offers, has been doing his due diligence with the recruiting process and assessing various schools with his family in an effort to narrow down his recruitment. Givens told TCI he has already come up with a list of his top 10 schools, he just has not released it to the public yet but plans to do so within the next couple of weeks.
There is a lot about Clemson’s program that appeals to Givens – especially the people associated with it – and he says the Tigers are a lock to make the cut for his top group.
“If you look at it from the outside, all you hear about is everybody saying how great the coaching staff is and how good of family people and how good of just people they are outside of football and coaching,” Givens said. “And then going on my visits and talking to them, that’s actually true because they make sure that I’m OK and my family’s OK, and they know my mom and dad’s name … Sometimes schools don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff, and you’ll tell them and they don’t remember. I told Clemson one time my parents’ and my brother’s names, and they remember every time. It’s the small things like that that means a lot.
“So, that’s what I like about Clemson a lot. Outside of the amazing football program and competing for a national championship every year and developing NFL players, just the kind of people they are down there.”
Looking ahead, Givens does not currently have a specific timeframe for his commitment. He wants to check out more schools in person before rendering his decision but, as of now, the NCAA dead period remains in place through at least Sept. 30.
All in-person recruiting has been suspended since March, and it remains to be seen when recruits will be allowed to hit the road again.
“I’m not quite sure yet. I’m going to take my time with it,” Givens said when asked about commitment timing. “I want to take my visits, but this corona stuff, who knows what’s even going to happen with all this. But as soon as I can get some visits in, more visits in, then it’ll probably be around then. So, whenever recruiting opens up.”
Whenever the time comes for Givens to sit down and choose where he wants to be a student-athlete, a few factors will play an important role in his decision.
“Definitely whatever I want to study, if they have that major,” he said. “I haven’t decided what I want to study yet, still waiting on that. And then definitely developing players as far as producing NFL talent. That’s been my goal my whole life, to be a first-round draft pick in the NFL. Also, the third thing would definitely be the family atmosphere, just like the coaches and my teammates and having that unbreakable bond.”
Givens is rated as a five-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite, which considers him the No. 2 prospect in Virginia, No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 21 overall prospect in the 2022 class.
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