While it hasn’t happened at nearly the pace that Clemson fans would’ve hoped for, the Tigers 2022 recruiting class is finally starting to take shape.
Dabo Swinney and staff have stuck to their guns.
What has worked for them in past years wasn’t necessarily viable due to the pandemic, but the Tigers have remained patient and stayed the course.
That’s led to four additional verbal commitments, stemming from the Elite Retreat. Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith four-star safety Sherrod Covil and St. Louis (MO.) Lutheran North four-star cornerback Toriano Pride committed back-to-back at the Elite Retreat and did so on consecutive days this past week.
Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and safeties coach Mickey Conn did a nice job of landing a hard-hitting safety and lockdown corner, respectively.
Additionally, the Tigers received commitments from Greenville (S.C.) Christ Church Episcopal School OT Mason Johnstone and Largo (Fla.) Pinellas Park K Robert Gunn III, who is the No. 2 kicker in the nation, per 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Clemson got itself out to a hot start with four early additions to the class — Cade Klubnik, Adam Randall, Blake Miller and Collin Sadler.
All four were on campus to participate in the morning session of the final day of Swinney Camp, before having the orange carpet laid out for them during the Elite Retreat.
While Clemson already received verbal commitments from all four prospects, the Tigers finally had the opportunity to show them the family side of the program. They’d only seen that side from the lens of recruiting during a pandemic and from prior relationships they’d established with the coaching staff.
Miller, a four-star OT from Strongsville (Oh.) spoke with The Clemson Insider regarding his experience at the Elite Retreat.
“It was awesome,” he said. “My family and I really enjoyed it.”
Randall, a four-star WR from Myrtle Beach (S.C.) echoed similar sentiments.
“I had a great time, no regrets in my decision,” he added.
It was the first chance for something that the pandemic limited between the coaches and recruits — an opportunity to bond. It also allowed for Clemson’s coaching staff to hone in on some uncommitted recruits, who the Tigers certainly have high on their list for the ‘22 class.
Chief among the Elite Retreat guests were a couple of five-star targets in Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley defensive tackle Travis Shaw and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy safety Keon Sabb.
Shaw is a longtime priority target of defensive tackles coach Todd Bates and the Tigers. Shaw and Bates already had a strong relationship entering the Elite Retreat, but it allowed them to build that bond even more and gave Shaw the chance to spend time with and get to know current Clemson defensive tackles such as Bryan Bresee, Tyler Davis and fellow Greensboro native Payton Page.
Shaw visited UNC before the Elite Retreat and went to Georgia this past weekend. There is still a ways to go in his recruitment, but this remains a battle between the Tigers, Tar Heels and Bulldogs.
Sabb, meanwhile, left campus feeling like a top priority for the Tigers as well. He had a great experience at Clemson and has a really good relationship with Swinney and his staff. “He’s a great guy, [a] man of faith and awesome leader,” Sabb said to TCI of Swinney.
Sabb is working with a top six of Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Penn State, Oregon and Texas A&M. He took an official visit to Penn State earlier this month and visited Georgia over the weekend as well. He is slated for a trip to Texas A&M this coming weekend.
Another big name that was among the Elite Retreat visitors – and a name Clemson fans are very familiar with – is Jennings (La.) four-star running back Trevor Etienne, of course, the younger brother of Travis Etienne.
The younger Etienne worked out at the morning session of the Dabo Swinney Camp on Friday, June 11. He recently included the Tigers in his list of top 10 schools, which also includes Penn State, Georgia, Florida State, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Tennessee.
In addition to Sabb and the aforementioned new commitments, Covil and Pride, another one of the Tigers’ top defensive back targets was on hand for the Elite Retreat in Mauldin (S.C.) four-star cornerback Jeadyn Lukus.
Lukus grew up a Clemson fan, and the Tigers have long been viewed as the frontrunner in his recruitment. Clemson helped its case by getting Lukus back on campus for the Elite Retreat, but North Carolina has made this a battle and also drew a visit from him the weekend prior.
Also in attendance for the Elite Retreat were Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove four-star defensive lineman Caden Curry and Boonville (Mo.) four-star defensive end D.J. Wesolak.
Curry is considered an Ohio State lean, while Clemson looks like the team to beat for Wesolak coming out of the visit.
“Just being there, you see a lot of love and a lot of things other things schools don’t provide,” Wesolak told TCI. “When you come here, you don’t know what it actually is, but you feel a certain type of way when you get here. After leaving other schools or seeing other schools, they have the love, but they don’t show it the same way Clemson does.”
What comes next for the Tigers remains to be seen. For now, the ‘22 class is starting to take the shape of previous recruiting classes that Clemson fans have grown accustomed to, the Tigers just needed some time to get some faces on campus.
Clemson’s 2022 class, comprised of seven total commitments right now, currently ranks 21st nationally by Rivals and No. 23 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings.