Thomas Austin is proving to be plenty capable as a recruiter in his first cycle as Clemson’s offensive line coach after being formally named to that position in early February.
Austin and the Tigers landed a third offensive line commitment on Monday from Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.) four-star Zechariah Owens, a highly touted prospect ranked as high as the nation’s No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 67 overall prospect in the country for the 2023 class by 247Sports.
Owens joins a couple of other acclaimed offensive linemen in Clemson’s 2023 class – a pair of Lone Star State standouts in Permian High School (Odessa, Texas) four-star Harris Sewell and Vandegrift High School (Austin, Texas) four-star Ian Reed.
Sewell is tabbed as a top-100 national prospect regardless of position by ESPN (No. 65 overall), Rivals (No. 99) and the 247Sports Composite (No. 73), the latter of which considers him the No. 2 interior offensive lineman in the class. Reed, meanwhile, is also well respected across the board as a consensus four-star prospect who is ranked as high as the No. 13 offensive tackle and No. 143 overall prospect in the 2023 class.
As you can see, Austin is putting together an outstanding offensive line haul for Clemson’s class and quieting the concerns that some fans had earlier in this cycle.
Some were worried about Clemson’s offensive line recruiting when a couple of former Tiger O-line targets – Reagan High School (Pfafftown, N.C.) four-star Sam Pendleton and South Point High School (Belmont, N.C.) four-star Sullivan Absher –committed to Notre Dame in April and May, respectively.
In recruiting, it’s always more about the ones you get and not the ones you don’t get. But as it turns out, the offensive linemen the Tigers have ended up getting are more highly regarded than the aforementioned duo that they didn’t get.
Absher is ranked as high as the No. 192 overall prospect in the 2023 class, per the 247Sports Composite rankings, while Pendleton is ranked as high as the No. 225 overall prospect in the class by Rivals. All three of Clemson’s current O-line commits carry a higher ranking than those by at least one service.
Austin is showing his ability as a recruiter and deserves a tip of the cap for the talent he’s helping the Tigers bring in at the O-line position this year.
But Austin is doing more than just simply recruiting Clemson’s offensive line commits – he has done a good job of building a genuine relationship with them, as well.
Just ask the Tigers’ newest O-line commit, who is certainly a fan of Austin.
“He came to my school during January like three times,” Owens told The Clemson Insider earlier this year. “So, we were always like close. We built the relationship. I sat down and talked with him, laughed it up, talk seriously, talk about football, talk about family. I already had the relationship. …
“I already had the relationship with Coach Austin. When I actually say I love a coach, I think of them as a father figure. I already think of Coach Austin as a father figure because he shows me that he’s a husband before a coach. He shows me how much he cares about his family before he puts football. Football is his main thing in life, but he puts family and God first, before anything.”
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