Wesley Goodwin deserves his due.
Clemson’s defensive coordinator waited in the wings. He was Brent Venables’ right-hand man for years. He’s as sharp as they come and one of the soundest defensive minds in the sport, but when he was hired, there were questions about his ability to recruit.
Needless to say, they’ve already been answered.
After signing a trio of linebackers in the class of 2022 — Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) three-star Wade Woodaz, Gaither (Tampa, Fla.) three-star Kobe McCloud and Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic four-star TJ Dudley — Goodwin had his work cut out for him when it came to the rising seniors in the class of 2023.
And to say he did some heavy-lifting would be an understatement.
Clemson has received verbal commitments from two top linebacker prospects in the class of 2023.
Both Mill Creek (Hoschton, Ga.) four-star Jamal Anderson and Denmark (Alpharetta, Ga.) four-star Dee Crayton verbally pledged to the Tigers after officially visiting Clemson earlier this month.
Anderson (6-4, 200) is ranked as high as the No. 10 outside linebacker and No. 123 overall prospect in the 2023 class by ESPN. While Crayton (6-2, 215) is ranked as high as the nation’s No. 135 overall prospect in the 2023 class by Rivals, which considers him the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country for his class.
“He’s such a great coach and I’m definitely excited to be coached by him,” Crayton told The Clemson Insider after he committed last Saturday. “He’s been recruiting me so hard, even before they offered. As soon as he got the defensive coordinator position, he’s always been talking to me and my family. He’s been constantly recruiting me and I was actually the first linebacker he offered when he got the position, so that definitely played a part.”
After getting to know Goodwin, Crayton wasn’t surprised at how quickly he was able to pick up where things left off. Goodwin assumed Brent Venables current role after Clemson’s former defensive coordinator left to become the head coach at the University of Oklahoma.
“It was a very smooth transition,” Crayton said. “He’s kind of like me. We both have a chillness about us and we hit it off. That relationship, it was easy for me to make. He wouldn’t call me constantly and be annoying. He would call me enough that he would still recruit me very well and just have those conversations and make it feel as natural as possible. I feel like it was definitely meant to be.”
It was also meant to be for Woodward Academy (Atlanta, Ga.) four-star defensive end AJ Hoffler, who verbally pledged to Clemson earlier this week. Once he got to know Goodwin and what he was all about, it was a wrap.
“He was already in the building and drawing up plays,” Hoffler said. “So, as far as the scheme goes, I never had concerns about that. I just didn’t know him as a person. But, once I got to know him as a person, everything checked out. I knew that on the field, he’s just as good as any other d-coordinator in the nation — he just hasn’t had the chance to do it in actual games, besides one (Clemson’s 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl).
“It was just getting to know him as a person, because on the field, he’s a really, really good coach. So, once I got to know him as a person, it was good from there.”
Recruits like Hoffler and Crayton have continued to speak glowingly about Goodwin’s recruiter time after time. The success he’s had on the recruiting trail can only go up from here. Goodwin has already earned his stripes as a recruiter in six months with the results speaking for themselves.
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