National Signing Day sits just over the horizon, and Clemson is a day away from securing yet another top-tier recruiting class. The Tigers have seen a whirlwind of a recruiting cycle — although they’re not alone in that, by any means — but things have settled down and they’re waiting on the decisions of just a few recruits who will make their announcements Wednesday.
Clemson did most of its work during the early signing period. The Tigers signed all 15 of their commitments in the three-day period between Dec. 20-22, and they added a few big-time recruits in those same three days.
Here’s how I think things unfold on Wednesday.
Quarterbacks: Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville, Ga.)
There’s only ever been one guy for Clemson here — Trevor Lawrence. The consensus No. 1 overall recruit in the country committed to the Tigers in December 2016 and never wavered; he signed on the first day of the early signing period and ensured Clemson has one of the most talented signal callers to ever come through the high school ranks. Lawrence is as decorated as they come: he broke former Clemson QB Deshaun Watson’s career records in passing yardage and touchdowns in the state of Georgia last year, and there’s no reason to think the sky won’t be the limit for the early enrollee.
Running backs: Lyn-J Dixon (Taylor County High — Butler, Ga.)
Clemson secured its only running back in Lyn-J Dixon after he de-committed from Tennessee on Oct. 14 in the midst of the upheaval surrounding former Vols coach Butch Jones. The Tigers fought off Oklahoma State for Dixon’s pledge, and he made his decision during the early signing period.
Pass-catchers: WR Derion Kendrick (South Pointe High — Rock Hill, S.C.), TE Braden Galloway (Seneca, S.C.)
Derion Kendrick, who did it all for South Pointe, has wowed everyone that’s seen him — especially over the past year. He played quarterback and led his team to its fourth straight state championship. Clemson receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said Kendrick is among the best receivers he’s ever coached in a camp, and he has the potential to become the next great NFL-ready receiver at Clemson.
Braden Galloway had a rough go of it during his senior season. He suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot during the second game of the season and returned later, but he shut things down after it didn’t feel right. Still, he has good size at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, and once he bulks up and gets some experience under his belt, Galloway can fit in well.
Clemson led for receiver Justyn Ross for what seemed like an eternity, but Alabama put the pedal to the metal and made up ground quick. The Crimson Tide have all the momentum, and it seems likely Ross will stay in-state.
Offensive linemen: OT Jackson Carman (Fairfield, Ohio), Jordan McFadden (Dorman High — Roebuck, S.C.)
Clemson was without an offensive lineman until Jordan McFadden flipped from Virginia Tech on Dec. 9. Jackson Carman shocked a sizable majority of people by picking the Tigers over Ohio State on the first day of the early signing period, but it’s a decision Clemson fans aren’t complaining about. Carman is the No. 2 player at his position nationally, and he has the potential to be an anchor for the Tigers for years to come.
Defensive linemen: DE Xavier Thomas (IMG Academy — Bradenton, Fla.), DE KJ Henry (West Forsyth — Clemmons, N.C.), DE Justin Mascoll (South Gwinnett — Snellville, Ga.), DT Josh Belk (Lewisville — Richburg, S.C.), DT Darnell Jefferies (Newton — Covington, Ga.)
What a haul on the defensive line, and what a situation this loaded position group will be coming into next year. Thanks to Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell announcing their decisions to return to school next season instead of opting to enter the NFL draft, Clemson’s entire starting defensive line from a year ago will return.
Xavier Thomas is the top-ranked defensive player in the country, and KJ Henry isn’t far behind — he’s the fourth-ranked defensive end. Those two alone would’ve constituted a celebration, but then the Tigers added a trio of talented linemen in Justin Mascoll, Josh Belk and Darnell Jefferies as well. Clemson has an embarrassment of riches in the trenches, and it will for a while.
Linebackers: Mike Jones Jr. (IMG Academy — Bradenton, Fla.), Jake Venables (Daniel — Central, S.C.)
Clemson has a few more holes to plug at linebacker, but the Tigers got some good ones here. Mike Jones Jr. played with Thomas at IMG Academy and should fit in well in Brent Venables’ defense — and speaking of Venables, his son, Jake, was impressive for Daniel over the last season; he was named a semifinalist for the High School Butkus Award, given to the top linebacker in the country.
Defensive backs: CB Kyler McMichael (Greater Atlanta Christian — Norcross, Ga.), CB Mario Goodrich (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), S Trevon Flowers (Tucker, Ga.)
The only position that I’m projecting Clemson to add to Wednesday is the defensive backs. Kyler McMichael committed to Clemson on June 23 and, despite some push from Auburn to flip, remained there over the course of the year.
Mario Goodrich and Trevon Flowers were late offers by Clemson, but the Tigers made good impressions on both. Goodrich visited Clemson on Jan. 26 and canceled a visit to another school that was scheduled afterwards. Flowers has visited Tennessee and Kentucky in addition to Clemson, but the Tigers went hard after him just in the last few days. The biggest miss here is Patrick Surtain Jr. — who liked Clemson, but the draw to LSU is likely too great to pass up.
Kicker: BT Potter (South Pointe — Rock Hill, S.C.)
BT Potter is the fourth-ranked kicker in the country, and he has a cannon attached to his leg. The power is there, but the accuracy needs work. With Greg Huegel returning next year after his season-ending injury last season, Potter will have a year to fine-tune his mechanics and gain experience before stepping in as a starter.