Clemson’s top linebacker target came off the board Sunday when Salisbury (N.C.) four-star linebacker Jalon Walker committed to Georgia over the Tigers and fellow finalists North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State.
Clemson has been planning to take one linebacker in the 2022 class. So, what’s next for the Tigers in terms of their pursuits at the position after Walker’s pledge to UGA?
To date, Clemson has offered three other linebacker prospects in this cycle, if you include Marietta (Ga.) four-star Daniel Martin, who is listed as an outside backer by the major recruiting services.
While most schools involved in Martin’s recruitment are pursuing him as a linebacker, the Tigers are recruiting him as a safety but see him as a versatile defender who could eventually grow into a linebacker, similar to former Clemson star and current Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
“They’ve been talking about how they would use me and how I could play a lot of places on their defense,” Martin told The Clemson Insider recently.
One of Clemson’s first linebacker offers went out last June to Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic four-star T.J. Dudley. A month later, he named the Tigers one of his top six schools along with Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU and Oregon.
Clemson got Dudley on campus for the program’s junior day last spring, and he came away impressed.
“I loved the facility, the players and the coaching staff,” he told TCI afterward. “They just showed that they really cared about their players and turning them into men, and also the football aspect,” he said. “But they put that beside the point, and they showed that they really cared about their players.”
Dudley was close to rendering a decision following his junior season but decided to hold off due to the NCAA dead period and wait until he could take visits this summer before making his commitment.
Auburn’s staff under new head coach Bryan Harsin is coming hard after Dudley, and the SEC’s Tigers could end up being the ACC’s Tigers biggest competition.
The other linebacker Clemson has offered is Manassas (Va.) Unity Reed five-star Shawn Murphy.
In January, Murphy released a top eight that included the Tigers as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Penn State.
The Buckeyes are considered the odds-on favorite to land Murphy, but Clemson is among other schools that have been recruiting him hard.
Another linebacker on Clemson’s radar worth mentioning is Eoghan Kerry of powerhouse Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif.
Kerry, who grew up in Indiana, currently holds offers from Colorado, Nevada, Columbia, Penn and Yale. Schools such as Notre Dame, Cal, Boston College and Boise State are showing interest along with Clemson.
The plan for Kerry right now is to narrow down his recruitment following his junior season this spring and then go from there.
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