Clemson inks two of nation's best specialists to 2022 class

Clemson inks two of nation's best specialists to 2022 class

Recruiting

Clemson inks two of nation's best specialists to 2022 class

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Clemson signed two of the nation’s top specialists as a part of its 2022 recruiting class.

Pinellas Park (Largo, Fla.) three-star kicker Robert Gunn III and Saralnad (Ala.) High School punter Jackson Smith officially put pen to paper with the Tigers on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for class of 2022 football recruits.

“So pumped,” Gunn told The Clemson Insider about signing with another specialist in Smith. “Can’t wait to get on the field again and also build a relationship with him and drop some bombs.”

After securing four early FBS scholarship offers from FAU, Army. Navy and Air Force, Gunn landed offers from the University of Texas and Clemson in a span of a week.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney indicated that Gunn was either headed to Texas or Georgia before Clemson locked him in.

“We said you have to come in here and compete for it,” Swinney said Wednesday. “Not only did he come in and compete for it, but he also knocked it out of the park. His kickoffs hit the hill.”

He committed to Clemson after his experience at the program’s Elite Retreat.

“I just fell in love with the school,” Gunn said. “The culture there is really real. The people there are just unbelievable. The atmosphere there couldn’t be better.”

“Since Day 1, my dad called it a ‘pipe dream’ and we just stuck with it and it paid off,” he added. “It was kind of emotional too because all these people didn’t believe in me and didn’t think I had the talent. I finally did it.”

Gunn, whose senior campaign at Pinellas Park came to an early end when he tore the ACL in his right (kicking) leg earlier this season, is considered by PrepStar as the No. 7 kicker in the nation.

He was an all-conference selection at both punter and placekicker in both 2020 and 2021.

The good news is he is ahead of schedule in his rehab and expects to be fully recovered this spring. He’ll arrive on campus as an early enrollee in January. Though, he’ll come in behind a veteran in B.T. Potter, who will surprisingly return for his fifth and final season of eligibility in 2022.

“I promise you, nobody’s gonna be happier than Robert Gunn,” Swinney said, “that he’ll have the opportunity to really kind of mentor with B.T. for a year. That’s gonna be a blessing for Robert.”

As for Smith, he’s rated as a five-star punter by NKR, which considers him the No. 1 punter in the country for the 2022 class. He’s ranked as the No. 5 punter in the nation by Kohl’s.

He committed to the Tigers in July after attending the All In Cookout. Smith was on campus again this past weekend as an official visitor and later announced that he would be putting placed on full scholarship.

“He’s just a great fit for us,” Swinney said. “This kid can absolutely bomb it.”

Smith punted 78 times over his last three seasons, placing 43 of them inside the 20, averaging 39 yards per punt as a senior and 38 as a junior. He also has experience at quarterback and tight end.

While there will be a changing of the guard with cornerbacks coach Mike Reed adding the role of special teams coordinator, Clemson can hang its hat on adding two big legs in this recruiting class.

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