Nearly 10 years ago as part of its 2012 class, Clemson signed a defensive tackle from Grimsley High School (Greensboro, N.C.) by the name of D.J. Reader, who is currently playing in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now, the Tigers have their sights set on landing another defensive tackle from Grimsley in Travis Shaw – a five-star prospect in the class of 2022 who knows Reader very well.
“D.J. Reader, he’s like a big brother to me,” Shaw said to The Clemson Insider on Tuesday during our Tour of Champions visit to see him at Grimsley High. “He’s not really telling me what to do in my recruitment, but he’s giving me tips and everything like that of how he did it in his recruitment, where he felt like was best for him. So, it’s more like a brotherhood type (relationship).”
Shaw (6-6, 330) also has a strong bond with his primary recruiter for the Tigers, defensive tackles coach Todd Bates.
“It’s a real good relationship,” Shaw said. “We touch base with each other almost every day. He checks in on me, we talk a lot. It’s real good.”
Dabo Swinney is involved in Shaw’s recruitment, too, and has built a good rapport with him as well.
“Coach Swinney, he’s a great coach, been a great coach for a long time,” Shaw said. “My relationship is real strong, too. He checks up on me every time he can. He’s a busy man, so whenever he gets the opportunity to shoot me a text or come get on the phone when I’m on the phone with Coach Bates, he pops his head in and stuff like that. So, it’s real good.”
Swinney and his staff have brought up the idea of Shaw being a part of their “Jumbo” package on offense and potentially giving him a chance to tote the rock out of the formation.
“They mentioned it to me a little bit last week when I was on a Zoom call,” he said. “But the defensive side is where I play my ball at. So, whatever happens, that’s just added to the achievements that’s going to come on the defensive side of the ball.”
Last fall, Shaw narrowed down his list of more than two dozen scholarship offers when he announced a top 13 featuring Clemson along with Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and North Carolina A&T.
Shaw says he is still working with the same top group and has yet to further trim down his recruitment.
“My top 13 is out right now, so I haven’t decided from there,” he said. “Me and my family, coaches, friends, we’re still talking about it, still deciding where I best fit at. So, haven’t cut it down from the 13 yet.”
Unofficial and official recruiting visits have been suspended by the NCAA since last March due to COVID-19, but Shaw and fellow Clemson target Jalon Walker – a four-star linebacker from Salisbury, N.C. – had planned to visit Clemson together last weekend to tour the campus on their own.
However, they were unable to make it into town after Walker suffered an injury while playing basketball, though the two plan to reschedule the trip for a later date.
“We’re going to have to redo it,” Shaw said. “In Friday’s game, Walker had got injured with his finger, so he had a doctor’s appointment the next day. So, that’s why we didn’t go.”
Shaw doesn’t currently have a timetable for his commitment decision but cited a few factors that will be especially important to him when he chooses a college down the road.
“Really who I’m building a relationship with the most, where I feel most at home,” he said. “The coaching staff, and not even just the coaching staff – a school in the community that can build me to be a better man and to reach my ultimate goal, which is to play in the NFL for a very long time.”
Shaw is the No. 1 prospect in the state of North Carolina, No. 2 defensive tackle in the country and No. 8 overall prospect in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
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