Elite Junior Day recap: The latest on several priority targets

Elite Junior Day recap: The latest on several priority targets


Elite Junior Day recap: The latest on several priority targets

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After talking with several visitors from this weekend’s Elite Junior Day, The Clemson Insider wanted to recap what we have heard from some of the priority prospects in attendance.

Here’s an extended look at some interesting tidbits we received and some information we gathered from prospects in the class of 2023 like Briarwood Christian (Birmingham, Ala.) four-star quarterback Christopher Vizzina and Warner Robins (Ga.) High School five-star defensive lineman Vic Burley.

Christopher Vizzina

The Briarwood Christian (Birmingham, Ala.) four-star quarterback spoke with TCI in an exclusive interview Sunday evening. He offered some interesting tidbits, including his relationships with Tajh Boyd, DaKaari Nelson and Brandon Streeter.

If you go back and look at the pictures and videos of Vizzina throwing during the Dabo Swinney Camp this past summer, Boyd was in the background. While he wasn’t yet a part of Swinney’s staff, he made a point to return for camp that summer. The fact that he was watching over Vizzina wasn’t a coincidence either. He was the only guy really cheering him on as Vizzina and Arch Manning competed, making throw after throw for about 20 minutes.

Turning back the clock again, Vizzina met Boyd at the Elite 11 regionals. He recalls going up to Boyd to meet him and telling him thanks for helping him that day. He also told him that he thinks Clemson would be one of his top schools — we now know that to be true — but Vizzina had just one offer at the time. Boyd gave him an inspirational message, but neither knew if he would ever have that opportunity.

In Vizzina’s gallery of photos that he took during his photoshoot this weekend, he posed for a picture with each of Swinney, Streeter and Boyd. And as you might think, there’s a deeper meaning there. 

“Every time me and him see each other, there’s just a different type of energy because we both know the story about it and everything,” he said. “When we see each other, we get super hyped. I mean he’s young, I watched him play. It’s a really cool connection.”

He also has a connection with Streeter, Clemson’s offensive coordinator, and his family.

“When I first got the offer, the Wake Forest game, my parents and I went to dinner with Coach Streeter and his whole family,” Vizzina said. “Obviously, my mom built a relationship with Coach Streeter’s wife. I mean, I think that’s one of the special parts about Clemson. Regardless if you go there, these people, you’ve already built relationships with. I think all these people Clemson lands every year, all these recruits, I think it’s really based on the relationships and how comfortable you feel around these people that are at Clemson.”

Vizzina was fortunate enough to see his 7-on-7 teammate, Selma (Ala.) 2023 four-star safety DaKaari Nelson get offered. They talked about it when they spent Saturday night together at Swinney’s home.

“He is the real deal,” Vizzina said of Nelson. “He’s the type of player that he’s the reason I go to Montgomery every weekend and play against — obviously we’re on the same team — but we actually practice and scrimmage and stuff. He’s the type of player that’s worth the drive to go to Montgomery to compete against every Sunday. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s definitely one of the best players in the country and I’m glad he’s on my 7-on-7 team.”

DaKaari Nelson

Nelson was blown away by his first visit to campus and left Clemson with an offer in hand.

“It was a great experience,” he told The Clemson Insider in a phone interview Saturday night. “I kind of expected it to be in the middle of a big city, but it’s really not. It’s like its own city and I like that.”

At one point during Saturday’s festivities, Clemson had the recruits break out into their position groups. Nelson was, of course, the only safety on campus, so he got some one-on-one time with Mickey Conn.

Nelson was going over some film with Conn when Clemson’s co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach told him that he saw him playing in a particular position and that’s why the Tigers were going to offer him a scholarship.

“It means a lot with the winning history and the well-known name of the university,” Nelson said. “So with them offering, it means a lot. The way they recruited me before they offered, it helped them a lot, so they stand high in my offers.”

Nelson (6-3, 195) ranks as the No. 15 safety and No. 160 overall prospect in the 2023 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Braxton Myers

Coppell (Texas) 2023 four-star Braxton Myers traveled to campus for the program’s Elite Junior Day. Needless to say, this visit was an important one for the Lone Star State cornerback to make.

After arriving back in his hometown Sunday, Myers talked about his junior day experience in an exclusive interview with TCI.

What stood out to Myers about his visit?

“Other schools, they would say it’s family-based, but they don’t prove it and I feel like Clemson really proved that it’s family-based,” he said. “Also, education is very big at Clemson and Coach Swinney wants to make sure that you have an education. He wants you to graduate from college, even if you leave in three years, he still wants you to come back and graduate.

“I really believe that the coaches are gonna make you a better man in life and a player if you just work hard and listen.”

Myers, who Rivals considers the No. 19 cornerback prospect in the class of 2023, feels like Clemson helped itself  “a lot” with this weekend’s visit.

Vic Burley

One of the headlining visitors for Clemson’s elite junior day was Vic Burley, a five-star prospect from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School who is the No. 6 defensive lineman and No. 33 overall prospect in the 2023 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. 

The Clemson Insider caught up with Burley, who told us that he had a great visit, enjoyed it a lot and felt like he fit in at Clemson. The highlight of the junior day experience for him, he said, was hanging out, having fun and playing basketball with the other recruits at Dabo Swinney’s house. 

Burley enjoyed being able to catch up with another junior day visitor, Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic four-star running back Justice Haynes. The two have become good friends since they played each other in their 10th-grade year. Burley also built a bond with Jacksonville (Fla.) Westside four-star defensive tackle Jordan Hall during the elite junior day and had the chance to meet Cade Klubnik as well. 

As for Clemson’s coaches, Burley spent the most time with Swinney and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason and said he felt like his relationship with them got stronger during the visit. 

Burley hopes to make it back to Clemson during spring practice. Asked where the Tigers stand with him coming out of the visit, he said “they’re at the top.”

Justice Haynes

Clemson certainly made a strong impression on Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic four-star running back Justice Haynes – and his father – during the elite junior day. 

TCI caught up with Haynes’ father — former UGA star and former Steelers and Falcons running back Verron Haynes – about their experience in Tiger Town over the weekend. 

“Justice had a great visit,” Verron said. “He enjoyed talking and hanging with Dabo and Coach Spiller again. Each visit captures different aspects of what Clemson can offer. Clemson is consistent and solid.”

Added Verron: “Clemson showed us once again why they have a world-class football program. They keep the main thing the main thing, developing their athletes in life and football. The PAW Journey program is exceptional. The facilities are great, the campus is beautiful. Talked with the school president, James Clements. They are innovative with NIL, they are building the Clemson branding institute.

“But more importantly Dabo is genuine, shoots it straight and you can tell he personally wants to see each athlete be No. 1 just as much as he wants Clemson to be No. 1. He expects them to be great men and great athletes. Dabo met with the parents/players as a group almost two hours. He talked about how he grew up, family and faith, the program’s expectations and standards, what they offer. He really hit every point. Coach Spiller and the coaches and staff made us feel like we were a priority but it didn’t feel forced, it felt genuine. You can tell they chose a quality over quantity mentality. Top-notch in everything they do but more importantly they have a true family atmosphere.”

Justice is the No. 3 running back and No. 47 overall prospect in the 2023 class, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Tyler Williams

Lakeland (Fla.) High School four-star WR Tyler Williams made his first visit to campus this weekend, as he wanted to see if Clemson would potentially be a fit in his recruitment.

“It was great,” he told The Clemson Insider regarding his junior day visit. “It was a good opportunity and, of course, I got offered and got to see a lot and what position I could be put in if I were to go to Clemson.

“I would be put in a great position. You see the numbers of wide receivers being produced through Clemson, it’s very impressive. Even Coach Dabo, he’s also a receivers coach. For the most part, he was letting me know how they run practices and things like that in my position group.”

For Williams, it felt “great” to earn that coveted Clemson offer.

“They helped themselves a lot in my recruitment, I would say,” Williams said. “They’re somewhere in my favorite of all my offers I got, I’d say they’re somewhere in my top-10.”

Darron Reed

Carver (Columbus, Ga.) 2024 four-star defensive lineman Darron Reed made his first visit to Clemson’s campus since the Tigers offered him a scholarship on Thursday, Jan. 6.

“I had a great time at Clemson,” he told TCI after his junior day visit. “I enjoyed talking to Coach Swinney, Coach Eason and Coach (Lemanski) Hall.”

Clemson likes Reed’s positional flexibility across the defensive line and talked to him about potentially playing both defensive tackle or defensive end.

Reed had nothing but positive things to say about Eason and Hall. He indicated that the highlight of his visit was getting to spend time with and talk to them.

“Coach Eason has always been great,” Reed said of Clemson’s new defensive tackles coach. “Ever since he was at Auburn we had a great relationship and I feel like he’s someone I can play with and be coached by at the next level. He’s a great person all-around.”

He is rated as a four-star prospect by all the major recruiting services and ranked as a top-300 national prospect in the 2023 class by ESPN (No. 281) and the 247Sports Composite (No. 284).

Reed plans to release his top five schools on May 18, the date his mother sadly passed away. The Tigers, he said, will be on his shortlist.

“The coaches and the relationship we have built over this time, and I can see myself there going forward,” he said of what makes Clemson one of his top schools.

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