Thursday, September 10, 2015

The new season begins

I watched the Wofford game this past weekend and came away fairly impressed with the overall effort and ability level of some new guys to the starting groups, but its important to keep it in perspective too. Its Wofford, and we won't learn much more from playing App State this weekend either. After Louisville I might get my hopes up for more than 9-3, but I worry about the depth.

When I saw this team in Spring I figured, "This looks like a 7-5 team without Watson, there is just not enough depth for a full season to go upwards." I haven't changed my mind on that one. If we have to start Schuess, it'll be ugly. We don't have the depth on Defense to pull the offense out of a big mess like last season.

Watson looked good but a little off on his throws. Too many behind the receivers, or not thrown to proper spots. Its probably just rust but worth watching. Schuess looked good enough only because he was playing Wofford. I would only play Bryant because of Schuess's lack of ability to execute this system, and I think thats what you are seeing Dabo do. He knows if Watson gets hurt we're screwed and he better give KB playing time so he can learn something to help us if that happens. If we had a capable backup I think they'd RS Bryant, because he does need it.

I was pleasantly surprised with the effort and blocking ability of the starting 5 guys. Some issues remain, such as Norton getting blown up a couple times by a 1-AA level 0-technique, but Hyatt looked great after replacing Battle, who got himself kicked off the team for his 3rd strike with weed and skipping classes and 'voluntary' workouts. They said he wanted to go pro, and hid it all, but we know whats up.

Scott Pagano got most of my attention when the defense was on the field. He should blow up Wofford's front, and he did. If he keeps his pads down he can get even better. If Wilkins is really that close to Pagano he'll be great in a year or two as well. Maybe McGlockton-level.

But honestly Wofford didn't challenge us at all in the back end, so you can't say anything about the back 7. Venables stayed vanilla and didn't show anything. We blew up the Dive, and that kills any option team, thats it.

Punt team, not so good. Not enough blocking, not enough awareness. Too many Wofford jerseys getting down there too soon. I could only recall one kick that should've been fielded. The rest should've just been allowed to roll. I'm still very worried about our special teams situation.

Some have asked what we are doing this year, and the answer is we're not doing anything more than last year for now. We met some guys this offseason about a new website, or even guest-writing for another, and we just don't have the drive right now. We don't feel like getting into it unless the right opportunity comes up. Theres too much work and time invested for too little return, and we are already quite occupied with our normal day jobs. So while you shouldn't be shocked to see a guest appearance somewhere, or an article here or maybe another site if the offer is right, its unlikely we'll be as involved with Clemson for the time being. I have backed away considerably from Twitter and other sites over the last few months, but I'll be around for football and baseball season if my interest rises.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Firing Jack, hiring Lee

I'm still so happy that they finally fired Jack that I couldn't find much fault with anyone they hired to replace him, but I figured I'd write down much of what happened before I forgot it all.

First, there are two points of view in the information I've been given. One set of news comes from Jack's side and then theres another side, so keep that in mind. This is why I stated on twitter that I found out that some of what Aaron Fitt said was true, but I don't think it came from TCI, I think TCI and Fitt had similar sources.

Jack felt that he would be retained as HC. I have heard that the first meeting between him in Radakovich was very cordial and DRad mentioned how his supplemental contract had to be restructured around the changes with Easton (The baseball coach gets a base salary in the 250K range plus various extras, Jack made 190K in extras). I heard similar information early in the process, saying that there were contract changes on the table and that Jack could stay with a succession plan in place and staff changes (no more Pep), which ticked me off quite a bit. It shouldn't have even been up for discussion.

But when he came in for a follow up a day or two later, he felt blindsided when he was told he was out. Now if this kind of thing really did happen, whether I wanted Jack Leggett out or not, its a shitty way to do somebody who works for you and I don't support it. This information is what led to the newspaper ad by Jon Wilken and much of the comments you hear from people who were diehard Jack supporters saying he deserved better.

Then Jack followed up by calling everyone in his cellphone and warning them away from the job as best he could.

Whether he convinced guys like Schlossnagle, Corbin, or Kevin O to stay away is another question. Would they have come anyway? I doubt it. Sully was probably the only chance at a true Home Run hire, but I wouldn't leave fertile recruiting grounds in Florida unless you made me go. Larry Williams suggested that Sully felt it was not the right time, and maybe it would be someday. Some said he sent out feelers to Clemson and Jack convinced him to stay away. Clemson mentioned about 650K to Sully (about 200K more than JL made), but it didn't work out. Sully will eventually win a CWS in Gainesville and likely would never leave.

You can decide how much to believe. I find it difficult to believe Jack was told he'd be back, its more likely Jack's ego heard what he wanted to hear in that meeting and felt that DRad didn't have the balls do fire him. He tried that with TDP a few years ago, about the time I raised hell about our downturn, and Terry Don didn't do anything at all.

The other side of the coin was that DRad really wanted Jack Leggett out, and had a free hand from the Clements and Wilkins, but Leggett had many diehard supporters in IPTAY and around the AD that there was pressure to keep him. When Jack refused to make a change again this year, he could justify firing him to anyone who made  a stink about it.

Radakovich interviewed several guys, which is all I needed to hear. We tried Sully, who was the only HR hire I felt, and that didn't work. Lee is a fine choice, as were some others we interviewed. DRad pushed keeping LeCroy as part of the deal, and he is staying, which I'm fine with. My opinion that a house cleaning of this staff stands, since LeCroy was technically hitting coach, but with Lee having a strong hitting background, we'll look for improvement in the other areas.

It looks like Lee got 5 years at 350K or so per year, nearly double what CofC was paying him. LeCroy is staying, and Duke's Andrew See was hired as pitching coach, over Britt Reames (Citadel) and Matt Williams (UNC-W). Matt Heath, Lee's PC at CofC, who I wanted here, got the head job there.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hit the Road Jack

I was at Clemson during our last baseball "heyday", the years where CWS were expected and 50 wins was the real goal. I got to see some serious juggernaut teams until 2003, when graduation/MLB losses knocked us down a notch. Hiring Tom Riginos to replace Corbin was his first bad move.  Sully had enough talent coming in that we got back up the ladder by 2006, which I still believe was one of the best all-around teams Clemson baseball has ever had.

But after Sully left in '08 and Riginos was given the full recruiting reigns, Clemson has steadily marched downhill with the 2010 run being the aberration that I originally thought it was at the time. I jumped off the Jackwagon after watching those teams struggle with basic fundamental baseball, as well as the lack of talent. Losing in 2010 was the final straw for me, because that team was a microcosm of Jack's own issues: when the heat is on, their sphincters tighten so much that they can't do anything right. Anyone who has met Jack in person will agree with me, that man is so tightly wound that you'd think he could snap in a split second if something goes awry. It has taken 5 years for more of the fanbase to agree with me and see it, but it is pretty clear at this time that Jack should be fired.

As I've said before, Brad LeCroy has done an admirable job trying to restock our talent level back to where it once was. He's tried to rebuild the bridges that Jack and Riginos burned down, particularly in-state. His title does contain "hitting coach" though, and he's Jack's top non-pitching assistant, so I'm afraid that he needs to go as well, since we need an overall house cleaning at Tiger Field. I won't be mad if he's retained somehow, and I hope that he resurfaces somewhere, but I think a complete flush is required here.

I called for Leggett to be fired again last year and fleshed out these thoughts for my readership. I had hoped that we had an AD who had enough leadership and I was sorely disappointed. Nobody else had the balls to call for firing anyone, I haven't seen any outlet do it yet this season. This scathing article probably set in motion the events that helped Galbraith and Radakovich get us moved off of STS. If I were still there I'd investigate just how much our Supreme Fundraiser AD is actually raising compared to previous numbers, but I digress. The only thing I can point to that he has done well is spend money.

Everybody always asks "Well who do you want to replace him?", as if their ability to shoot down each candidate I'd bring up would be a convincing argument to retain Jack Leggett. Well I have thought about who I'd call, but its just a list of people I think are good assistants or coaches elsewhere. My opinion of the Clemson program level in 2010 is not what it may be now, so maybe we can't go out and get any coach we want like we could at one time. The Common Market problem and scholarship money remains as a negative against us hiring anyone we would want.

The only two criteria I can have for a successor is that he be a good recruiter in his own right -- good recruiters hire good recruiters and we have a talent problem -- and that he show me that his players have good fundamentals. In a perfect world I'd call each of these guys: Brian O'Connor at UVA, Kevin O at Florida, Corbin, Monte Lee at CofC, Jim Toman at Liberty, and Jerry Meyers. My dream pick would be O'Connor, since his teams are the most fundamentally sound that I have seen in person for several years. They don't beat themselves like ours. Will he come here? No way. Nor will Sully or Corbin, especially not Corbin now. Those ships have sailed, but I'd due the diligence and call them anyway. Toman is a damn good coach and recruiter, but I doubt he gets a sniff. I don't see DRad calling Meyers either. That leaves Lee, who I think is a fair choice and realistically would take it. He is not leaps & bounds better at CofC than Pawlowski was, but he's done well.

Then again it might be someone completely outside of the local area. There are plenty of great assistants out there. So long as he shows me he can coach fundamentals and place recruiting emphasis on Georgia and SC, I think he'll be a step up from the current stale regime.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Evaluating the 2010 Recruiting Class

We are evaluating how close the recruiting services were with their ratings of the 2010 incoming class, Swinney's 2nd class. This includes all the guys signed by Clemson in 2010.  We've decided to review the class to see whether Rivals and Scout got their ratings right in the first place. I have my own thoughts about what I take star ratings to really mean, and it always becomes a point of contention between people who live by the ratings and those who trust the staff to make evaluations regardless of rating.

For those who do not recall, Swinney took a small class in 2009, the "Dandy Dozen", following his short stint as interim HC. He then pocketed the remaining scholarships, leading us to have 11 former walk-ons on scholarship in 2010. Therefore, I clamored for them to oversign and fill with the necessary greyshirts to get us to a full roster by 2011, but they did not do so, and its only been the last 2 years that we've sufficiently oversigned so as to not be stuck with so many, though we still keep the "fat" on the team and don't show enough of them the door when they fail to pan out.

Going back to this class, the real headliners at the time were LB Justin Parker, WR Nuke Hopkins, WR Tay Bryant, DE Corey Crawford, Tavaris Barnes, and OG David Beasley. Parker, who we had to fight hard for with SC, carried his recruitment late into the process. Crawford and Beasley were battles with UGA, who we were very worried about poaching one or both of them.

Of note, RB Coach Andre Powell had a choice to make that winter, pursue RB James White or RB D.J. Howard. Powell chose Howard, who was being recruited by Auburn as a DB, as his preferred take. Auburn responded by pulling Howard's offer after DJ took a secret visit to CU. White went to Wisconsin, and finished with just over 4,000 yards in his career there.

Also in this class, a young TE/RB playing for Billy Napier's father in Adairsville GA named Vic Beasley.

Scout named this the #23 class overall. Rivals had it at #19.

2010 Signees
Player Rivals Scout
OLB Justin Parker 4 3
Played as a true freshman and should not have. Later quit football due to injuries.
RB D.J. Howard 3 3
Howard never fulfilled his potential, and never greatly improved as a RB.
CB Garry Peters 4 3
Peters had some poor moments his first years at CU, by his Sr year he had locked down one CB spot and did sign a UFA deal. 3-stars is accurate.
OG David Beasley 3 3
When we landed DB I thought we had the first of a next-level group of Linemen, not so. Beasley could never push himself to his full ability. 4-star talent with 2-star work ethic.
CB Martin Jenkins 3 3
Martin was taken as a bit of a favor to his father, who was friends with Steele. Became the best cover man on the roster his 2nd year, but disappeared thereafter. Solid and dependable player who did sign a UFA deal.
LB Jake Nicolopulos 3 3
Suffered a stroke in senior year of HS, received hardship waiver, never played.
CB Darius Robinson 4 3
Darius showed real flashes in the beginning of his term at CU, but fell off the map and became a serious liability in coverage in years 2-3. By his senior year he had improved enough to lock down his starting job from Peters. Will probably be successful in other areas of life away from FB.
DE Tavaris Barnes 4 3
Clemson took Barnes away from FSU, but Barnes was stuck in that tweener spot between the 3-tech and 5-tech. In his junior year he became a very dependable player. 3-stars is accurate.
OG Kalon Davis 3 3
Kalon somehow started, though we do not see him starting anywhere else with motivated Guards. Too big and slow to be useful as a puller but played anyway. Clemson never got him into proper shape.
DT Josh Watson 4 4
Watson was from Hargrave, and reported light, then bulked up very quickly. Very dependable solid guy at DT, a real backbone of the top defense. 4-stars is accurate.
TE Vic Beasley 3 3
Languished at TE, and the offense gave him to Steele, who put him at OLB. Never worked well there either, no instincts. When they moved him to WDE for the Spring game of his Jr year, the light came on. As a athlete, where he was rated, 3 stars might have been right. As a DE, 5-stars. 1st round pick by the Falcons.
FS Bashaud Breeland 3 4
4th rd pick by Redskins. Breeland really only had one bad year at Clemson during the transition from Steele to BV. After that he became almost lockdown, and in his senior year became a seriously good tackler on the boundary. 4-stars would be accurate.
WR Martavis Bryant 4 4
4th rd pick by Steelers. 10 star talent with 1-star work ethic. Seriously as much speed and raw ability as anyone who has ever played WR at Clemson, but until halfway through his Sr year did not care about blocking or anything else besides catching 40 yard bombs from T. Boyd. Being in the pros has helped him change that.
RB Demont Buice 3 3
Absolutely terrible RB. Transferred in 2011. Deserved no star rating at all.
WR Joe Craig 3 3
Craig was originally a 4-star by Rivals. Kicked off the team, then to Copiah-Lincoln C.C.,wound up at Memphis. Did sign a UFA deal with Bengals. Speedy player who played QB/CB more than WR in HS, and had few WR skills here to start with, so he never really showed any of his potential. Also needed muscle, which Batson couldn't get on him. In terms of speed, 3 stars would be accurate. In terms of WR skill, 2-stars.
TE Sam Cooper 2 2
Cooper became a dependable blocking TE. 2-stars is low for him, 3-stars is more accurate.
SS Rickey Chaney 3 3
Never qualified for enrollment at Clemson.
DE Corey Crawford 4 4
4-stars would be a little high for this player, who followed M. Goodman at SDE. Crawford was a fine anchor on the strong side, good vs the run, but no flash and no real pass rush ability.
WR DeAndre Hopkins 4 4
1st rd pick by Texans. From the moment he stepped on the field, we marked him as the future. Did all the little things, and never dropped passes. Great work ethic. 4-stars is low for Nuke.
DT Tra Thomas 3 2
One of the laziest players I have ever witnessed. 2-stars is accurate.
OT Gifford Timothy 3 2
Quit football due to knee injury. Was fine against weak competition and slow DEs, but otherwise a liability at RT. 2-stars would be accurate.
OG Reid Webster 3 3
Backup and role player until his senior season, when he split time at Guard. 2-stars would be accurate.
DB Desmond Brown 4 3
Kicked off team in 2011. Transferred to Pitt. 4-stars was far too high for him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Observations from the Spring Game

Since sEcSPN decided not to televise it, we are out of luck for a second glance at a film review of any kind, but I went to the game, as I usually do. This year seemed even more vanilla from a schematic viewpoint than in the previous 2-3 seasons, so there really is not a ton of things you could take away from the game. We also stuck with intermediate and shorter passes, so none of the QBs took a really deep shot downfield. However, I took away some major concerns and am looking for a few things to get fixed.

First I want to point out that I recognize that the teams are split unevenly, and that many backups play who may not all play during the season. I will point out to you though that backups on defense most definitely do play, and they play a lot, especially up front. While a starter might get 600-700+ snaps, the backups will generally get into the 200-300 range barring injury.

Our starting QB was out, but I don't see that as a major negative, these backups do need the reps.

QB - I thought Schuessler did admirably with the offense they gave him to run. It was more like what Stoudt was given in the bowl game: simple, short and intermediate routes that are meant to get the ball out quickly. He must have been really really bad last year in practice to not get game reps.

Now, do I think he's going to be a success against a Louisville? That is an different question. He really didn't have to read our defense at all. They were playing the same basic few coverages packages.

The next two will have a battle for the 3rd team spot this fall. If neither ever gets to play, they both get redshirted. I think they'll plan to redshirt one, and play the other only if an emergency occurs. Right now, they each have their strengths. Israel looks completely out of his element in our running plays. He does not seem to have the instinctive feel for the read options. His passes were fine, and he's a little ahead in that department. You would expect that given his HS offense.

Bryant looks like the more athletically talented player, but early on he was just going through the motions when he was asked to throw. He seemed to firm that up later on in the game. In the option, you can see why they took him, he's got enough speed and talent to do a lot with the ball in his hands and he has the feel for the read option.

I get the feeling that Bryant is just a little ahead in the battle for 3rd QB after the game. He'd be more useful in a game allowing us to use our option and be able to throw it. Israel right now is more one-dimensional and you'd throw out the option when he's in there. But, its early, and the real hitting doesn't start til August.

Run fits - I was saddened at how poorly we maintained gap integrity up front. We overran our lanes, the DL didn't plug up holes great, and the LBs did a poor job of filling -- particularly from the B-gap outwards (which brings in secondary support). Our offense did too well a job of running the ball.

Individual battles show one player vs. another, and perhaps that is what you should take from the game, but the overall integrity is very important and showed me that some backups are not quite ready for primetime games. I would say our first 11 will be OK, but after about 14 I think we will have problems in depth show up on the scoreboard. The good ones are still good: Lawson, Mac, Pagano will be great, Yeargin and Register can be good players, etc. Watkins showed some flashes, but needs to be more consistent. Reader needs to raise his game back up.

In the first half I did not see Skeletor losing his mind as much as I thought he would, but you could see him chewing out a few guys in the 2nd.

RB - the flip side is that I thought our RBs all did well, they all ran hard, though I saw a few run with their pads too high. I would not call their yardage so much a function of how the OL played, with a few exceptions, as I would their hard running and the defensive integrity.

WR - our WRs are some of the best out there, no worries here.

DB - We had some failures with the safety spots in run fits in the alley and some coverage busts. The first TD was basically all on Jefferie Gibson, who let Mike Williams get behind him when he came up, and then 2 plays later fell down when Williams cut inside on the post for 6. Similar issues showed themselves all day. Right now, I think only one side of the defense is vulnerable, and that's whichever side Mac is not playing. His side is complete lockdown. FSU would be wise not to test him.

But my major concern from the game? Kicking. I was not happy with the punting or kickoffs. Lakip is fine as a kicker, I think. But we couldn't get the kickoff inside the 10 most of the time. We didn't get enough hang on punts. I'm quite scared that we will drop a game based on this kicking situation this season.

It would be nice if we had a coach specialized in Special Teams....oh wait.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thoughts on Clemson Basketball's Program and Future

Several people have asked me via email what I think of Brad Brownell and our program following another disappointing season, so I'll take a break from retirement to share those thoughts here.

First things first, Brad is not going anywhere. Radakovich wouldn't fire Jack Leggett when it was blatantly apparent he needed to do so, he pushed the decision off and fed us a bunch of bullshit last summer about why he didn't. I don't think he wants to make the hard decisions. And, he gave Brad a nonsensical buyout to Brownell's contract like he did Hewitt at Georgia Tech (though not as bad). DRad wanted to lock up Brad through the facilities changes, and push his decision off until afterwards. So no, unless we basically finish 1-30, or Brad decides to jump ship, he'll be here until the Littlejohn changes are completed. I wouldn't be surprised if DRad is just looking to jump ship himself within 2-3 years, he seems poised to be a conference commish someday.

But coming back to the program, my opinion is that Brad Brownell is not going to be the answer here to getting us back into the NCAAs consistently. When I watch Clemson, i see a very inconsistent team, and a team that looks like it has not been coached on how to play offense at all. They don't have that offensive mindset. We're a defensive squad and that is really all we can do. It seems like the plan is to teach guys how to play defense and not teach them how to shoot, so unless we recruit a great player who can do offense by himself, we're not going to play as an offensive unit. Brad's staff is just not developing them here. Blossomgame and Grantham are the only two players I see out there who have that offensive talent. The rest of our players should be at mid-majors.

Now I will say that I do like Brownell. I supported the hire, and in the subsequent seasons I was happy to see a team that did improve fundamentally. We could never set a screen to save our lives under OP, and Brad had that fixed almost immediately. Our overall defensive fundamentals are pretty damn good most of the time, with the exception of a few lazy players like Nnoko. In all but two seasons we have looked much better by February than in November, so you can't deny that his staff is coaching them up.

I will also point out the attitude of most Clemson fans, which is that basketball does not deserve any facilities or money spent on it because it does not perform. Such an attitude proves to me why football spent 20 years in Hell, but back then it was held by the administration, and not all of us. I was harping on this stuff 5-6 years ago, and people still told me we didn't need an IPF. Now the administration spends on football, and people wised up and see that success and spending go hand-in-hand. But they don't see that spending on basketball now will help it in the future. If you think that way, then just shut up about our basketball program.  You don't even deserve to have your opinion heard. Clemson can be successful at everything, and if you know me then you know that I've always pushed for that goal.

So that Clemson is finally spending some money on Littlejohn is welcomed by me. Facilities are all about recruiting. Men's Basketball is the only other athletic program at Clemson that turns a profit, the only one. Improving facilities for football took us from Top 30 classes to now Top 10-15 classes, and improving the basketball facilities will help greatly here. Will it help as much? I'm not sure, but it will help. We aren't in a metropolitan area, we're out in the sticks a little at Clemson, so we won't ever have the natural advantages that Atlanta or Chicago would have, but we can make sure the recruits are wowed by what we show them. We haven't helped Brownell in this area and he clearly needs it.

But I have some questions, that after his term here need to be answered.
Who is responsible for the almost complete lack of talent here? I'm not excusing him just because Clemson won't spend to help him.

Who is responsible for recruiting not one dead-eye shooter for a 4/1 motion system that needs shooters? I see them at Wofford or Winthrop, why do we never have one? Have we had one since Oglesby?

Who is responsible for losing at least 1 or 2 players to transfers every winter? This is a big red flag. And why does it seem that we always need those players back a month later?

Why do we look like we haven't been coached on how to play offense in some games? Self-explanatory. Its not every week, or every moment in every game, but its often.

Who is responsible for the lack of mental toughness? lack of killer instinct? We lose a game and its like the bottom drops out from under us. Lose to ND? Then lose again and again. We look great one week, then get the next team down, and can't finish it, or vice versa, when we get down by 15 to a team we can beat, then come back and still lose because of crucial mistakes.

Who is responsible for us dropping a few games to teams we have no business in the world losing to? Look like crap against High Point? Lose to Winthrop? Lose to SC? Losing to Auburn last year basically kicked us off the NCAA bubble. What about generally looking like shit from November until ACC play starts in nearly all of his seasons as HC?

I knew when the hire went down that recruiting would determine his tenure. I thought Rick Ray was a good one there, but I know that Ray would play ball with the AAU guys, and Brad won't do it, so Ray left. I don't think Brad filled with as good a quality recruiter. I don't think the rest of the staff is very good at it either. James Johnson would've been, but VT hired him before we could get him here.

Basically what Brad needs is 2 or 3 Dabos to recruit for him, and then find an assistant who can coach offense, because Brad only seems to be able to draw up a few set plays and coach defense.

But like I said, Brad is not going anywhere until the facilities are done. They'll give him at least one year in the new LJ to show substantial improvement, and only then will a decision be made. A new coach would not want to jump into this until the new LJ is done. At that point, if Brad Brownell is fired, and I currently believe he will be, then we don't need to go cheap with the next HC. Clemson should go out and throw the money at someone who is not at a destination job.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The 2015 Clemson Tiger Recruiting Class

Recruit - Proj. position at CU - HS - any linked film I can get - vitals - rankings from Rivals and some of our thoughts after looking at their film.

Bold indicates player signed on Signing Day, the others are already enrolled.

Shadell Bell - WR - Columbia HS, Decatur GA - 6'2 202, 4.58 40 -  film - 3* WR. Rivals#41 player in Georgia and #42 WR overall. Offers from Kentucky, Miss State, NC State, Tennessee among others. Makes good cuts, smooth in his routes, but is not a burner so he has to be good at routes to get separation. Real nice size and could play on the boundary 9 position, as he can already block. Actually dropped from a 4* ranking due to playing a very average senior season, beset by ankle and groin injuries that sidelined him half the year. Given our WR situation I expect they'll play him. Recruited by Marion Hobby and Jeff Scott.

 Kaleb Chalmers - DB/CB - Greenwood HS, SC - 5'11 180lbs, 4.45 40- film - #10 player in SC and #47 CB nationally.  Offers mainly from the local Carolinas, including SC and Tennessee. Chalmers is a good player in HS who needs polishing at the next level. Hip flex is good, speed is good, but just needs coaching up because he's not consistent. Does show good ball skills, which is a must here. Definite RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

Tucker Israel -  QB - Lake Nona HS, Orlando FL- 6'0 195lbs.  - Film 1, 2 - No ranking in-state or nationally. Received an offer and attention from Florida, LSU, and then a bunch of 2nd tier programs. Based on his film, I'd say the 3-stars is low. He's set tons of Florida passing records. Based on the measurables, its probably right on the money, and considering that they take other things besides on-field play into these ratings, its fair. If he was two inches taller they'd be all over him; he's on the short side to ever make it to the next level. Good arm strength and is capable of making the throws in our system, and sets his feet well, but I have concerns about his deep floaters against good coverage teams. Either Israel or Bryant will RS, not both, and the one who RS's is the one you have to think will look elsewhere within 2 years. Recruited by The Chad.

Sterling Johnson - DT - Cleveland HS, Clayton NC - 6'5 288lbs.  - film, 2 - #55 DT nationally, #26 player in NC. Johnson has an impressive offer list, but I get the feeling many of these are just verbals and place-holder offers, namely Alabama, FSU, Florida, UNC, and Texas. He had tried to commit to Tennessee but they would not take him. Size is obviously ready, first step is good, but the motor...not so good. This is the one thing we look for in DL players, and he does not have it. Technique is bad. Competition he faced in Western NC isn't that good either. Definite RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

Albert Huggins - DT  - Orangeburg-Wilkinson HS, SC - 6'2 280lbs 4.9 40 - film 2 3 - #2 player in SC, #10 DT nationally and #88 player overall. Played with Jadar Johnson at O-W. This one was really between Clemson, Georgia and SC. His dad really pushed him hard towards the SEC, and was in attendance when Clemson thumped SC, which is the day things turned in our favor. I do believe had UGA worked harder, they likely would've landed him early on. Huggins is a War-Daddy, basically unblockable inside at the HS level, and spends much of the game in the backfield. I think this is the best DT we've signed in some time. First step is good, pad level is good, strength is outstanding. He's also doing well in school academically. Huggins should crack the 5-man rotation at DT. Recruited by Marion Hobby.

Chad Smith - OLB - Dominion HS, Sterling VA- 6'4 215 4.7 40 - film - #2 player in VA, #4 OLB and #48 player nationally. His main offers are from Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Pitt, who were the main early suitors for his services. Had he stayed uncommitted, a lot of other teams may have followed. I'll tell you, based on his first available film, I was not impressed at all. He merely looked like the best athlete on the field. Later film shows much improvement, and he showed out well against the top competitors in the AS games. Hip flex is good, speed is fine but needs to get better and I think it can. Pad level must come down, but technique is otherwise quite good. I think he's a future tweener at SAM in our system, capable of moving to SS unless he bulks up too quickly. Likely a RS. Recruited mainly by Venables.

Van Smith - DB/S - Hough HS, Charlotte NC - 6'0 180lbs 4.5 40- film 2- #14 player in NC, #41 Safety nationally. Offers from NC State and Kansas State, but he committed very early. Played everywhere, mainly RB and DB at Hough. Speedy athlete that plays hard, but needs coaching. Hip flex is good. I expect him to RS.  Recruited by Dan Pearman.

Mitch Hyatt - OT - North Gwinnett HS, GA- 6'5 285lbs.  - film, 2, 3, 4 - #3 OT nationally, #5 player in GA and #45 player overall. Offered by everybody. Hyatt is a Clemson legacy, as his mother went to school here and his uncle, Dan Benish, played for Coach Ford. Hyatt has the frame to put on muscle, footwork is great, he's got good length and knee bend, and he uses his leverage. He keeps his pads low. You can tell that Benish and others have coached him really well. He's a real athlete playing Tackle instead of a big fat kid. He basically does everything well.The reason why he dropped from the #1 spot nationally is that he gained weight this season, and didn't carry it as well this season compared to some others. He was beaten off the edges against good competition and to the inside by quicker guys. We do believe he needs to add muscle to play at the next level and continue growing into his body. Candidate to play at least a little as a true freshman. Recruited chiefly by Tony Elliott, with Chad Morris and Robbie Caldwell.

Kelly Bryant - QB - Wren HS, Piedmont SC - 6'4 204lbs -  film, 2 3 4- Rated 4-star dual-threat QB by Rivals. #3 player in SC, 11th-ranked Dual Threat QB nationally. Early on, he was ranked in the top 150 players nationally, but has been fighting health concerns throughout his HS career. Gets good spin on the ball, and good arm strength for our system. Really makes a lot of big plays with his legs, though he's not a speed burner at the college level. Most of his HS tapes are just big bombs or runs. His cousin is Martavis Bryant. He ran the offense for a heavily-run-oriented Abbeville before going to Wren for his Jr/Sr seasons, due to Academic reasons. I'm expecting Bryant to get the 2nd string job, but if he doesn't, watch for him to RS. Technically Kelly is a Jeff Scott recruit.

Jake Fruhmorgen - OT - Plant HS, Tampa FL - 6'5, 282lbs.  - film - #5 OT nationally, #15 in FL and #73 nationally. Offered by everybody, though Florida and Bama were the main competition early on, and his dad played at Bama. He's tall, carries his weight well, and his feet are really good. He shuffles them into his pass set very well without taking too big a step that would make him bend at the waist or lunge at pass rushers. Sometimes his pads are a bit high, but this is normal for a 6'5 guy in HS. It appears his HS runs a mostly-pass offense, because you just don't see enough of him in the dirt and drive blocking to get a real feel for that part of his game. At least not from anything I see on Hudl. I suspect he'll need to put on some more mass, but this is the type of OT you'd want to run a zone read with. He can get to that 2nd level pretty quickly. Candidate to play at least a little as a freshman. Recruited by Tony Elliott.

Zach Giella - OG -Augusta Christian HS,Augusta GA- 6'5 300lbs.  - film, 2 - #49 player in GA, #60 OG nationally. Offered by Wisconsin, LSU, the Mississippi's and SC.  Giella is a tweener for Guard or RT, and it depends on his weight and footwork where he ends up, but after watching more film on him I think he'll end up at Guard. RT might be where he starts out. His feet aren't completely fluid like Fruhmorgen or Hyatt's films show, but he has enough of a mean streak in him that he tends to finish blocks. He screws up when he straightens himself up and lets a defender get in close under his pads, because then they can turn him. In all, he's a bit more of a project and definite RS. Giella was recruited by The Chad.

Noah Green - OG - Boiling Springs HS, Spartanburg SC - 6'4 283lbs 5.03 40 - film - #8 player in SC and #39 OG nationally. Committed early on, but had offers from ECU, NC, SC. Both parents attended Clemson. I have seen Green play in person a couple times, and I was not wowed, but he is a big kid with good strength and pretty good feet. Sometimes lets defenders get in and knock him off balance. Definite RS. Recruited by Jeff Scott with Robbie Caldwell.
Austin Bryant - SDE - Thomas Cty Central HS, Thomasville GA - 6'4 251lbs.- film -  4* SDE. #13 player in GA, 149 overall nationally, and 11th ranked SDE nationally. Offered by just about everyone in the southeast, including Florida, FSU, LSU, ND, A&M, SC. Played with Adam Choice in HS, and grew up a UGA fan. Plays with good pad level, seems to understand leverage. We've been harping on Clemson not getting enough high-quality DEs for some time now, and Bryant is that. He fills an immediate depth need on the Strongside, and we do expect him to get a taste on field this fall. Recruited by Dan Pearman.

Deon Cain - WR - Tampa Bay Tech School, Tampa FL - 6'1 190lbs, 4.4 40. film, 2, 3 ,4 - #4 WR, #6 in FL, and 17th-ranked player nationally. He was an early FSU lean with offers from Florida, Bama, Miami, UGA, Nebraska and Ohio State. Cain actually played a lot of QB in HS, since he was the best athlete out there, so don't be shocked if he's not good at WR technique when he gets on the field. He's playing this fall either way. He has to learn how to block, which I don't see on any film. Runs good routes that I can see. Hands look good. He's fast, but quicker and more fluid than an outright blazer. Change of direction is good, indicating good hip flexibility. The reports on his personality say that he's a gamer, but quiet like our last two great WRs. Cain projects as a 5 or a 2 in Clemson's system, but probably starting out at 5. Tony Elliott is the typical area recruiter for Tampa, with Jeff Scott.

Gage Cervenka -DT -  Emerald HS, Greenwood SC -6'3 280 4.9 40.- film - #12 in SC and #37 DT nationally. Cervenka has offers from NC State, WF, Miami, and Duke. Very good HS wrestler, so he'll understand leverage. Most important thing I can say from his film is that he has a good motor, a very good thing at DT. Pad level is fine, first step is good. Cervenka's parents are Clemson fans and he grew up one. I expect him to RS. Recruited by Mike Reed.

LaSamuel Davis - WDE -Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Bamberg SC - 6'4 215lbs 4.68 40. - film - #13 player in SC, #33 WDE nationally. Davis had strong interest from NC State and UNC, and supposedly had offers from K-State, Florida, GT and Virginia Tech. Based on what I have heard, I'm skeptical of the offers from Florida and another from Tennessee. I'm not super high on Davis. I like the speed and first step obviously, and that is why he makes so many plays at Bamberg. His motor is good, which is most important. Davis is an athlete playing DE, the fundamentals and experience as a DE aren't there, so this one is a project, but not a project I mind since we got Bryant and Ferrell. I could see him becoming a pass rush specialist as an upperclassman. Definite RS. Recruited by Marion Hobby.

Clelin Ferrell - WDE - Benedictine School, Richmond VA - 6'5 240lbs. 4.7 40. - film - #5 in VA, #6 WDE and #135 national player. Offered by Bama, FSU, LSU, and many others. Ferrell looks like a future Beasley in frame, though obviously the edge speed from VB is pretty rare. Right now he plays like most 6'5 guys, too high, but that can be fixed. He's also left free a little too much on the film, coming completely unblocked off the edge from a 6 or 7 technique, which makes me wonder about the level of competition he's playing against. In some camps he has been pushed around by some good linemen, which gives me some pause as to how to rate his hand usage and how well he sheds. Right now, he's just beating guys with athleticism and not moves, but again you rarely see a guy in HS get more than 1 move down. Dropped a little in rankings later due to a ACL tear in August. Possible RS, but I think either he or Bryant plays given our lack of DE depth. Watch the knee though, given our record healing them. Recruited by Venables and Hobby.

Mark Fields Jr- CB - Hough HS, Charlotte NC - 5'10 186lbs, 4.34 40 -film, 2 -#5 player in NC, #10 CB nationally and #113 overall. Had been committed to SC for a long time, but staff uncertainty and the fact that Spurrier will not be there for 4 years are the main reasons why he pulled away. Son of former Panther LB Mark Fields. Bigger, physical CB not afraid to jam at the line, which we will be needing this year. Excellent speed and good ball skills. I do have questions about his toughness after sitting out an AS game with a broken finger. Fields is too talented to RS. Recruited initially by Pearman, but Mike Reed gets most of the credit here.

Ray-Ray McCloud III - WR/DB - Sickles HS, Tampa FL 5'9 176lbs 4.4 40 - film 2 3 4 - #2 athlete in the nation, #9 player in FL and #23 player in the nation. Offered by everyone, but committed to Clemson after his close friend Deon Cain did, which is when I predicted he'd commit to us. Florida was the main competitor earlier on. RRM played mostly RB in HS, but would project as a WR or DB at the next level, depending on where he wants to play. I expect we'll start him at WR in the slot 2 position, which was Sammy's spot. Basically will bench Germone Hopper, who needs to get it straight that he won't play over RRM unless he starts working hard. Speed and change of direction are simply excellent, but other than that there is not a ton of WR film to examine. Also, if he wants to bulk up (he's a little scrawny), he could be another Spiller. He won't RS. Recruited by Tony EIliott and Jeff Scott.

Tanner Muse - SS - South Point HS, Belmont NC - 6'4 205lbs 4.4 40 - film 2 - #17 player in NC, #44 rated Safety by Rivals. Committed long ago, but offers had come from Michigan, NC, Florida, and GT. Muse is just a big athlete, who will need a little development and to focus on either football or baseball. He is a candidate to get drafted by MLB this June. I think you see him start in the back end and whether he bulks up or not will dictate a move to OLB. I do believe he RSs. Recruited by Dan Brooks.

Christian Wilkins - DT - Suffield Academy, CT - 6'5 305lbs - film 2 3 - #1 player in CT, #4 DT nationally and #21 player overall nationally. Offered by Bama, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State among others. Another War Daddy. As you can imagine, CT doesn't provide him enough competition, so he bulldozes everyone he plays. He does show out in AS games and camps though. Wilkins is a rare blend of size and speed, but is a bit wreckless and plays higher than Huggins. Wilkins may need just enough coaching that he'll benefit from the RS, but don't be surprised if he cracks the 5-man rotation. Recruited by Venables.

Garrett Williams - 4* TE - 6'4 225lbs. First Academy Orlando FL - film, 2 - #3 TE nationally, #18 in FL and #118 player overall. Offered by nearly everyone, including Bama, Auburn, the Florida schools, Stanford and Notre Dame. Williams is an FSU legacy, his dad played for Brad Scott as a FB under Bowden, and Brad's connection got us in, but Stanford was the main competition according to him. Williams has everything you'd want in a TE, but you could probably find someone who does something better without having the entire package. He has good speed, but its not elite. He's not going to stretch the field deep as well as Leggett could (if he ever stopped being lazy).  He isn't stiff in the hips and it shows in his cuts, but he's not as fluid as Allen ended up. His hands are good. He gives effort as a blocker, but I don't see him starting out as a line TE, he'll be flexed out like a Leggett or Seckinger in the beginning. If he can put on about 20-30lbs, without losing any athleticism, maybe then he becomes a guy you'd play every snap and capable of doing everything we'd need at this spot. If he can do that he'll make it to the NFL without a problem, I just don't see him going as high as a Fleener or Allen. Given our TE situation, I expect them to play him. Recruited by Jeff Scott.

Grayshirt - Amir Trapp - CB - Daniel HS, Clemson SC - 5'7 165lbs 4.7 40 - film - Offered by Furman and PC. Son of James Trapp. Amir has no height and not enough speed to deserve a scholarship to play Div 1 football for Clemson. This is Dabo dabbing and nepotism, just like the Davis twins. Trapp is meant to enroll next January, on scholarship.

I'll reiterate my opinion on Clemson legacy players here. If a kid can play and is a legacy, then I want him. I think Cannon Smith can play and deserved his offer. I don't think Trapp or the Davis' can play.  They eat up useful scholarships that we can use for depth. If they walk-on and make the 2 deep, they deserve to get a scholarship, not before. Giving out 4-5 scholarships to players who can't help you defeat FSU is self-imposed probation.