The Clemson Insider recently caught up with a priority offensive lineman in the 2023 recruiting class.
Oceanside Collegiate Academy (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) four-star Monroe Freeling gave the latest on his recruitment. While he previously reacted to the news that Robbie Caldwell would be transitioning into an off-field role, with Thomas Austin taking over as Clemson’s offensive line coach, he was able to go more in-depth in his most recent conversation with TCI.
“I had a feeling when I went up there in the fall, that he was gonna transition to the job,” Freeling said. “That night actually, we kind of were just very close and had a lot of time just hanging out. Since then, it’s just been positive all-around. Even with all the coaching changes, I know that I grew real close with Coach Austin before Coach Elliott left. So, it was good to still have a really good connection with one of the coaches.”
Tony Elliott, who is now the head coach at the University of Virginia, spearheaded Freeling’s recruitment, along with Caldwell. Freeling feels like Clemson handled the transition caused by the coaching staff shakeup the best it possibly could.
“I think it was a really smooth transition,” he said. “I was really always thinking that [Austin] was going to be the head offensive line coach because he was always talking to me a lot. I was talking to him a lot and I just had a feeling that he would probably be the coach eventually.
“With all these coaches leaving and everything, my recruitment process has slowed down, but not with Clemson. I feel like it’s still going up to date.”
Freeling elaborated more on the “feeling” he got regarding Caldwell’s eventual decision to step down.
“Coach Caldwell, I love Coach Caldwell, but it kind of felt like he was just burnt out, even with his real bright spirit,” Freeling said. “I felt like Coach Austin was really getting engaged with everything a lot more than I thought he would. Especially at the camp, I went to, he was doing some hands-on coaching. He was just talking to me a lot and I had a feeling that day that I thought he was gonna be transitioning into the role just because of how involved he was with me and my recruiting process.”
Clemson’s dynamic, as far as its offensive line coaching is concerned, is appealing to Freeling. In addition to Austin, two former Tigers’ offensive linemen — Tyrone Crowder and Brandon Thomas — will work hand in hand with the offensive line as an offensive analyst and offensive graduate assistant, respectively.
“I think it helps,” Freeling said. “I think that knowing that they went to Clemson and got to the next level as offensive linemen really helps the case.”
Clemson’s coaches will either stop by Freeling’s school on Friday, Jan. 14 or Tuesday, Jan. 18. He was unsure about the dates, but Austin and possibly Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter will be making their way to the Charleston area sometime in the near future.
While he was invited to Clemson’s Elite Junior Day on Jan. 29 and seemed likely to attend, Freeling will not be in attendance.
“I think that I already grew a really good connection with Clemson,” he said. “I pretty much know a lot about Clemson already. I feel like I should use this time to go look at some other schools, just so I can get my gauge and my perspective on my recruiting process.”
Where would Freeling say he’s currently at with his recruitment?
“I really want to narrow my list down soon, but all these coaches keep on bouncing left and right,” he added. “I’m just kind of waiting for everything to really calm down, so I don’t make any mistakes.”
Freeling’s offseason consists of playing basketball, waking up at 6:30 a.m. every morning to take his younger brother to basketball practice and living in the weight room, so he can hold take over all of the all-time weight lifting records at his school.
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