A target in the class of 2025 has emerged for Clemson.
Even though he’s only a freshman, Ensworth (Nashville, TN.) defensive lineman Ethan Utley is already receiving interest from the Tigers. He was in attendance for Clemson’s 48-27 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Memorial Stadium.
“Clemson was great. It was really cool meeting Coach [Lemanski Hall] in person for the first time, considering he used to coach at the high school I go to,” Utley told TCI. Coach [Miguel] Chavis and Coach [Todd] Bates gave me real good vibes when I first got there. It was a great overall experience altogether.”
After Utley’s first high school game, he was followed on Twitter by a handful of Clemson staff members. His head coach at Ensworth has been in communication with Clemson’s staff and passing along information to Utley, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he’d go on a visit to Clemson.
“Even though I’m young, I’ve always liked Clemson as a school and everything Dabo Swinney stands for and how motivated he keeps his players and how many championships they win,” he said.
Clemson was honest and open with Utley about the recruitment process. He understands that the earliest he can get offered is when he’s a rising junior, but that doesn’t change his level of excitement and building a relationship with Bates, Hall and the rest of the staff.
“It felt great,” Utley added. “I was smiling really hard and I was lit up by the fact that Clemson University wanted me and I’m only a freshman. That felt big, especially meeting Dabo my first time there, it was pretty cool and something I’ll never forget.”
What would a potential Clemson offer mean to Utley?
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “I know it’s early, but I feel like Clemson will be one of my top schools because Dabo Swinney, he’s just a really cool person. Especially after meeting him…I love the way they grind. I just love everything Clemson stands for.”
And while the Tigers have shown significant interest in him, they, of course, aren’t the only program that meets the eye for Utley. He already holds offers from the University of Illinois, N.C. State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.
“A lot of schools, my coach told me, they were very impressed with my film and the skillsets that I have for such a young player in my first year of high school football,” Utley said. “I play in what’s considered the hardest division in high school football in Tennesee. So, what I was doing to my competition, they were very impressed with and they want to jump on the train early to build new relationships early like Coach Bates had told me.”
Utley doesn’t take it lightly that he’s being recruited by a school like Clemson, considering the team’s history that comes with the position he plays on the field.
“It was really cool,” Utley added. “Clemson has been one of my top schools since I started watching college football. The amount of d-lineman they have produced over the years and for me to be a part of that want and that I fit the criteria and the characteristics of the defensive lineman wanted at Clemson is real cool and a great self-accomplishment.”
It was only fitting that the Tigers were accredited with eight sacks while he was in the stands.
“Especially K.J. Henry, he had an amazing game against Wake Forest,” he said. “I usually follow him and Bryan Bresee a lot. It was really cool to see them in person and really watch how they move with themselves and how they lead their D-line so well.
Utley would like to take another unofficial visit to Clemson as soon as he possibly can.