February 7, 2016

Swinney Talks 2016 Signing Class

Dabo discusses 2016 recruits with video of each recruit at the Wendy’s Recruiting Wrap on Wednesday, February 3.

Video courtesy of tv.clemson.edu and signee videos courtesy of Clemson Athletics.

Final NSD Primer Update

NOTE: Head over to the SUR Recruiting Message Board for updates throughout the day. Original story was published several weeks ago and updates have been added as noted by the dates.

Fresh off a welcomed extension to their season, the Clemson coaching staff will hit the ground running with just 3 weeks remaining until National Signing Day (February 3rd).  The 2016 recruiting class currently stands firm with 15 pledges, including 6 commitments that are already on campus as early enrollees.  Given the recent surge of underclassmen bolting for the draft and potential transfers I’d expect Clemson to try and add between 3-4 more prospects before calling it a day.  In this article we’ll take a look at the current remaining targets on Clemson’s board, and I’ll offer some percentages that are based solely on the information that I’m armed with as of today.  These percentages will carry very little weight as the recruiting landscape changes over the next few weeks. You can also probably expect a new name or two to pop up given the mass exodus of players to the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rashan Gary
Defensive Tackle, 6-3 293lbs (Parmus, NJ)
Crazy to think that Clemson could be in position to land the nation’s top two defensive tackles, but I’m here to tell you Clemson is squarely in the conversation.  Michigan has been the defaulted front-runner by recruiting services nation wide, and Ole Miss is thought to be near the top of his list as well.  Gary has already taken official visits to Michigan, Auburn, and Ole Miss meaning that he has two left. Southern Cal is slated to host him on January 15th and he’s hinted at Clemson receiving his final visit either on January 22nd or 29th.   If the Tigers are able to get him on campus then all bets are off.  Gary’s mother fell in love with the Clemson atmosphere when the two visited last Spring.  Another big advantage for Clemson is the fact that Gary’s uncle lives right down the road in Anderson.  This will be one to keep a very close eye on.
(1/16) Gary is on campus at Southern Cal for his OV
(1/18) The visit to Southern Cal went about as good as it could have, but they aren’t going to be his destination. The aforementioned leader Michigan is slated to host him this weekend on an unofficial visit.  At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t seal the deal even further.  Now that final visit that Clemson is vying for seems 50/50 at best leading me to lower the percentages here.
(1/20) Reports have surfaced that Clemson coaches conducted an in-home visit with Gary on Tuesday night.  If the reports are true, that means the staff gave their final sales pitch to attempt to lure the nation’s #1 prospect in for an OV on the last weekend before NSD.  Clemson is fighting Alabama for that final visit, but Gary is headed to his perceived front runner Michigan this weekend for an extended unofficial.  There’s no doubt that Harbaugh will pull out all the stops in an attempt to keep Gary from making that final visit, which is the only thing that could prevent him from signing with the Wolverines.
(1/22) All signs are pointing to Gary taking an OV to Clemson over Alabama for the final weekend. Obviously that’s good news for Tiger fans if he follows through with that visit.
(1/24) Gary will not depart from Ann Arbor until Monday due to snowy conditions that prevented travel on Sunday. I maintain the belief that Gary will follow through with his visit to Clemson next weekend, but a decision in regards to that visit has not been made public at this time.
(1/26) Gary and his mother are expected to decide tonight where he will take his final visit. This observer still believes that visit will be to Clemson.
(1/26) News broke late Tuesday night that Gary has decided to take his last OV to Clemson. Percentages up.
(1/28) Gary will be in Atlanta Thursday night to pick up an award.  He will then head up I-85 to Clemson on Friday. That visit is expected to last through Sunday afternoon.
(1/29) Rashan and his mother arrived to Clemson early Friday and were seen spending time with freshman DT Christian Wilkins and early enrollees Shaq Smith and Dexter Lawrence.  Gary is expected to stay at his uncles house during the visit, which reinforces the family pull that sits in Clemson’s corner.
(1/31) Both Gary and his mother stayed for their entire visit, which is key because Alabama was trying to lure him to campus on Sunday before he headed back to New Jersey. The returns from the visit have been through the roof as Clemson fans have grown accustomed to under Dabo’s regime.  I do in fact believe that this visit made Gary’s decision a difficult one, but whether it was enough to unseat Michigan remains to be seen. Now comes the waiting game. Gary will announce his decision on Wednesday at 1pm. Percentages up.
(2/1) Details have slowly leaked out today surrounding this past weekends OV to Clemson, and the returns are even better than anticipated.  Rashan bonded well with his several hosts and his mother was impressed with the academic sides of things. His mother cited that they just got a different vibe at Clemson, and they were treated with open arms unlike their experiences on some other campuses. I’m now comfortable labeling this decision as a toss up. Percentages up.
(2/2) “Supposedly” a decision has been made. No one knows. I’m taking a shot in the dark. Percentages up…

Chances he signs with Clemson: 51%

John Simpson
Offensive Line, 6-4 290lbs (North Charleston, SC)
Without a doubt the top remaining target on the board, Simpson has played his recruitment close to the vest since hinting at Clemson as his leader back in the Summer. The Palmetto state native has been a frequent visitor to Clemson’s campus, but still has an official visit on the docket for January 23rd.  He also has two more officials set up to Florida (January 16th) and Alabama (January 30th).  It’ll be worth watching to see if Simpson decides to give the new staff at South Carolina a look, which could happen considering a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.  What this all boils down to is that Clemson has done all they can do to in their recruitment of Simpson and they just have to simply stay the course.
(1/16) Simpson is on campus at Florida for his OV
(1/18) The trip to Gainesville definitely helped the Gators cause, but I’m still of the belief that LSU is Clemson’s biggest contender as of now. I’ve stated above how Clemson has pretty much done all they can do here, but they will get at least one more shot to pitch Simpson this weekend when he makes his long anticipated official to the Upstate.  South Carolina is still lobbying for a visit either midweek or in place of Alabama, but that has not formalized yet.
(1/24) Simpson wrapped up his Clemson visit Sunday afternoon.  The visit went about as well as it could, and this situation remains status quo.  Be patient.
(1/26) Reports indicate that his Alabama visit may be off.  This would be important for two reasons: 1) Alabama would be officially out of the picture and 2) South Carolina may back in the picture.  If Simpson decides to venture to South Carolina for this final weekend then there will certainly be reason for concern.
(1/27) South Carolina site is now reporting that the Gamecocks have been eliminated from consideration. This is a Clemson/Florida battle. Percentages up slightly.
(1/29) Florida may be much more of a factor than previously perceived. The Gators sent several coaches including head coach Jim McElwain to see Simpson earlier in the week, and that visit helped lock Florida in his top two. I still believe Simpson ends up a Tiger, but I’m going to temper expectations somewhat.
(1/31) Simpson will announce on Wednesday at 12:30.  Everything still pointing towards Clemson at this time.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 75%

Trayvon Mullen
Cornerback, 6-1 170lbs (Pompano Beach, FL)
An expected visitor this weekend, Mullen had once proclaimed Clemson as his dream school.  That interest hasn’t seemed to carry over into his recruiting process as FSU and LSU have sat atop his list for quite some time.  Over the last couple months, Clemson has rejoined the party and is set to roll the “Orange carpet” out this weekend for the rangy corner.  Mullen didn’t exactly shine in the Army All-American game, but he possesses the tools to blossom into an outstanding corner with a year or two in the weight room. The Tigers will be able to sell immediate playing time and NFL potential given the production at corner over the last decade.
(1/16) Mullen is on campus at Clemson for his OV. He attended the basketball game earlier this afternoon.
(1/18) After talking with several current Clemson commits who were around Mullen during his visit I think it’s safe to say the staff certainly made an impression.  Mullen was hosted by Ray Ray McCloud and Rahshaun Smith, both prize recruits out of Florida themselves.  If today were signing day I have a feeling that Mullen would be signing with Clemson, but the fact he has a visit set up to Baton Rogue next week makes me a little weary.  Nonetheless, I’m going to slightly raise the percentage here.
(1/22) Mullen is heading to LSU today for his last OV.
(1/24) Despite his OV this weekend, this is looking more like an FSU/Clemson battle as of now.  LSU has two corners committed and are the favorites to land the nation’s second ranked corner as well.  Mullen will take the last weekend off and is planning to announce his NSD commitment on ESPNU.
(1/27) The sentiment that this is a Clemson/FSU battle seems to be true.  The Noles are the favorite, but are in good standing with another 4-star corner Carlos Becker and that is a small benefit in Clemson’s favor.  The staff still has their in-home visit to use as well.
(1/30) Mullen has made a surprise visit to Louisville this weekend. Not sure if they will factor into his NSD decision, but the fact he’s back on campus after taking an OV on December 12th is noteworthy.
(2/2) My gut feeling here is still Florida State. Mullen has stayed relatively quiet and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick Clemson or even clutter up LSU’s secondary even more. This one is truly a toss up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Romeo Finley
Safety, 6-1 198lbs (Niceville, FL)
Perhaps the newest name to emerge on the board for Clemson is Finley.  The 4-star safety has a busy couple weeks ahead with visits to Georgia Tech (January 15th), Clemson (January 22nd), and Miami (January 29th) on his slate.  With the new regime in place at Miami, they will try to make a run and are the likely favorites at this point.  However, Finley doesn’t have to look far to see the pipeline of success from Florida to Clemson that includes defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander who just bolted for the NFL.  The staff will have plenty to sell Finley when he steps on campus, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough this late in the process.
(1/16) Finley is on campus at Georgia Tech for his official visit. Given Clemson’s standing with Thomas and now Simmons at safety I’m going to lower my percentages.
(1/18) The Georgia Tech sites are now reporting that Finley has identified the Yellow Jackets as his clear cut leader following his trip to Atlanta over the weekend.  Clemson is set to host him this weekend before he heads to Miami, who I deem as the largest threat, on the last weekend before NSD.  Just a personal note, I don’t believe Finley is at the top of Clemson’s safety board.
(1/19) Defensive backs coach Mike Reed conducted an in-home visit with Finley on Monday night prior to his OV this coming weekend.
(1/21) Finley hosted Miami coaches including new HC Mark Richt for an in home visit on Wednesday evening.  He’s still planning to take an OV to Coral Gables following his Clemson trip this coming weekend.
(1/24) Finley’s visit to Clemson this weekend was an eye opener.  Both Finley and Simpson got to experience Clemson’s 2016 awards banquet that was sure to impress.  The Florida native also got his first taste of snow, and it just happened to be inside of Death Valley where Dabo Swinney was seen sledding down The Hill.  Defensive backs coach Mike Reed also made sure Finley was well aware of the potential for early playing time due to the mass exodus at safety. He’ll head down to Miami for his final visit before rendering a decision on NSD. I’m going to raise the percentages here.
(1/28) Dabo Swinney and Mike Reed dropped by Niceville High today to see Finley. Georgia Tech coaches came by as well.
(1/29) Finley is at Miami for his final OV.
(1/31) The 4-star safety will announce his decision on Tuesday via his twitter account.  Clemson has positioned itself well and I would not be surprised to see him join the 2016 class. Percentages up slightly.
(2/1) With Simmons supposedly announcing for Clemson at 5, I’d be surprised if Finely announced for Clemson as well.  Not ruling the possibility out but I don’t believe the staff is wanting to take both at this time unless they know they’re missing on Mullen and Wallace. Percentages down.
(2/2) Committed to Miami.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Michail Carter
Defensive Tackle, 6-4 300lbs (Jackson, GA)
This is definitely one of the more interesting names on the board considering the depth Clemson has accumulated at the defensive tackle spot.  Carter appears to have legitimate interest in the Tigers, and the interest seems to have been reciprocated back from the staff.  The 4-star prospect also has a busy schedule upcoming starting with a visit to Clemson (January 15th) before seeing instate rivals Georgia Tech (January 22nd) and Georgia (January 29th).  The Bulldogs new HC Kirby Smart holds the trump card here if he decides Carter is a take in their class.  Just based on numbers alone I would be surprised if Clemson decided to take another DT, but maybe the staff has plans to move some guys around.  This will be a recruit to keep a close eye on.
(1/16) Carter is on campus at Clemson for his official visit. He attended the basketball game earlier today and Austin Bryant is his host.
(1/18) Fresh off the visit to Clemson there is really no news to report.  Carter isn’t one to talk with reporters and he’s kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part.  The instate schools are set to hosts him over the next two weekends, and I believe that the Bulldogs still hold the cards here depending on how they feel Carter compares with some of their other targets.  There could also be a visit in the works to Alabama, but that has yet to be scheduled as of this moment.
(1/22) Continuing to hear and read positive things surrounding Carter to Clemson. I’m a little surprised based on the depth at DT, but there’s no way you turn down a Top 100 player out of a pipeline state. Percentages up.
(1/24) Carter visited Georgia Tech this weekend. I don’t foresee them being a factor in his recruitment.
(1/28) Derrick Brown, a 5-star DT out of Georgia, announced a top 3 of Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee.  This is important because most had Brown as a lock to UGA, meaning that Carter was on the fence as a take.  Well now that it appears Brown is out of the picture that would lead one to believe UGA is the perceived front runner for Carter now. Percentages down.
(1/29) The freshness from Clemson’s visit seems to have worn off and this seems to be a UGA/Alabama battle. Not ruling out a signing day surprise, but this is a stretch at this point.
(2/1) All signs point to UGA.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Isaiah Simmons
Safety, 6-3 212lbs (Olathe, KS)
Brent Venables paid a visit back to his old stomping grounds out in Kansas to see Simmons, a rangy 6’3 212lb safety.  He currently has visits set up to Mizzou (1/15), Nebraska (1/22), and Louisville (1/30).  Simmons certainly fits the mold of the bigger prototypes that Clemson has identified as it’s preference at the safety position over the last few cycles.  This is another example of Clemson’s newfound national reputation allowing them to expand their recruiting reach to areas that have been irrelevant for the staff.  Keep an eye out for news in regard to a potential visit.
(1/15) Venables extended an offer and appears to have gotten an official visit in place for January 29th. We’ll see if that impacts his Louisville visit or not.
(1/16) Simmons received an offer from Michigan tonight.  No word on whether or not he made it to Mizzou for his scheduled visit.
(1/18) Simmons did in fact make the scheduled visit to Missouri. And there is news to report on the potential visit to Clemson.  The scheduled trip for the 29th did bump Louisville out of their visit slot, which tells you that the Tigers are under serious consideration.  The rumblings on this front seem to be carrying some weight and Clemson is riding the wave of momentum from a 14 win season here.  Getting him on campus is key, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Percentage is going up.
(1/20) After offering last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit with Simmons on Monday evening.  He would like to visit Ann Arbor, but time and scheduling are an issue.  Nebraska, where Simmons is visiting this weekend, is the biggest threat as of now.
(1/22) Simmons is headed to Lincoln today for his OV.  Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat to the Tigers.
(1/25) Swinney and Venables conducted an in home visit Sunday evening. Things are trending up for the Tigers before his visit this weekend. Percentage up.
(1/26) Michigan sites are reporting that Simmons will OV in Ann Arbor on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Clemson this weekend. I’m still of the impression that Nebraska is the biggest threat here, and after talking with Clemson commit Xavier Kelly I feel even better about Simmons to Clemson.
(1/29) Simmons arrived to Clemson around 7pm on Friday evening on the heels of a midweek OV to Michigan. Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat here.
(1/31) Returns from Simmons visit to Clemson have been pretty quiet, but that has more to do with the fact that his visit was overshadowed by the Gary visit and elite Junior Day turnout.  Simmons is also not keen with revealing info to the media, which is understandable given the constant hounding.  Still feel good here.
(2/1) Reports indicate that Nebraska’s proximity and option to play either side of the ball may be too much for Clemson to overcome. I get the feeling Clemson is now on the outside looking in as his visit did not seem to blow him away. Percentages down slightly.(2/1) Simmons tweeted out he will be announcing at 5pm on Tuesday, just before fellow safety target Romeo Finley. Also, several of the midwest recruiting guys are reporting that Simmons in leaning to Clemson. Simmons hasn’t made himself available for interview to us, but it looks like things are back in Clemson’s favor just a couple hours after I posted that I felt Nebraska was his likely destination.
(2/2) All signs pointing heavily towards a Clemson announcement tonight. Percentages way up.
(2/2) Committed to Clemson.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 100%

K’Von Wallace
Defensive back, 6-1 180lbs (Highland Springs, Virginia)
Clemson extended an offer to the Cincinnati commit on Sunday evening.  Wallace is a solid athlete that starred on both sides of the ball at the high school level. Clemson is recruiting him as a defensive back, most likely at corner. Over the last two weeks he’s added offers from Maryland, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Arizona. With all these big offers coming so late it’s tough to know the impact it holds, but the fact one is coming from of the hottest programs in the country could make thing interesting. Keep an eye out to see if a visit it set up for the final weekend before NSD.
(1/26) News surfaced earlier today that Wallace would OV to Clemson tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.  That was before he added two more big time offers from Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are his favorite school and could potentially be a gamechanger here.  Assuming he makes that scheduled OV, percentages up.
(1/27) Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed paid Wallace an in-home visit today. He’s also supposed to visit Clemson today and tomorrow, but I’m not sure when that visit will begin if he just had an in-home this AM. Clemson’s board at corner also seems to be dwindling down meaning that Wallace will become more of a priority.
(1/28) I can confirm that Wallace made it into town yesterday evening and spent time with defensive players Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, and Clelin Ferrell.
(1/28) Wallace just tweeted out that he will take a visit to Ohio State this weekend, which knocks Pitt from consideration.  The Buckeyes interest appears legit and they will be tough to beat out.
(1/29) Wallace enjoyed his midweek OV and claimed the Tigers have given him plenty to think about.  The only thing is he won’t have much time to digest all the happenings as he ventured to Ohio State upon his return home from the Upstate today.  Like I said above, if the Buckeyes want him he’s likely theirs.
(1/31) He has plans to announce at his school on Wednesday, but a time has not been set. This is likely a Clemson/Ohio State battle with the Buckeyes still holding the trump card.
(2/2) Announcing at 9:30am tomorrow at his school. That time is important, because it’s 30 minutes after Trayvon Mullen’s announcement. Ohio State also picked up a 4-star corner commitment yesterday. Feeling better about the Tigers chances here. Percentages up.
(2/2) Trending Clemson. Seems that Ohio State may be full with their DB class, which I suspected when 4-star Jordan Fuller committed yesterday. Also, Wallace may be perceived as a fall back option to the public eye, but the Clemson staff is extremely high on his abilities. Percentages up again.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 70%

Other Notes
Wide receiver Jayson Hopper and offensive lineman Cade Stewart are also under consideration for preferred walk-on spots.  Both prospects are Palmetto State natives and both played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
(1/15) Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks paid 4-star corner Marquez Callaway a visit yesterday.  He currently has three officials set up for the next three weekends to Tenn, MSU, and Ole Miss. Clemson and Ohio State are trying to get a foot in the door for the remaining visit.  If a visit comes to fruition he will officially be added to the board. .
(1/15) Malek Young commits to Miami. Removed from board.
(1/21) Callway committed to Tennessee as a WR(1/21) Matthew Ryan, an OL out of New Orleans, is expected in for an official visit this weekend.  Ryan does not have an official offer as he will be brought in as a preferred walk-on.  In case you’re wondering he is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and nephew to Bill HC Rex Ryan, who’s son Seth is a walk-on WR for the Tigers.
(1/24) Ryan has accepted the walk-on spot and will join the Tigers next Fall.
(1/25) An update to the Cade Stewart situation listed above: He was in town for a visit over the weekend and has reportedly been offered as a greyshirt.  Stewart committed to Georgia Southern last week, but the hometown Tigers will be tough to turn down.
(2/1) Stewart accepted the grayshirt offer from Clemson today as expected.
(2/2) Removed Daniel Thomas, Arkeem Byrd, and Lavert Hill.
(2/2) WR Jayson Hopper accepts a walk-on position at Clemson. He turned down several other offers to do so.

February 2nd NSD Primer Update

NOTE: Original story was published weeks ago and updates have been added as noted by the dates.

Fresh off a welcomed extension to their season, the Clemson coaching staff will hit the ground running with just 3 weeks remaining until National Signing Day (February 3rd).  The 2016 recruiting class currently stands firm with 15 pledges, including 6 commitments that are already on campus as early enrollees.  Given the recent surge of underclassmen bolting for the draft and potential transfers I’d expect Clemson to try and add between 3-4 more prospects before calling it a day.  In this article we’ll take a look at the current remaining targets on Clemson’s board, and I’ll offer some percentages that are based solely on the information that I’m armed with as of today.  These percentages will carry very little weight as the recruiting landscape changes over the next few weeks. You can also probably expect a new name or two to pop up given the mass exodus of players to the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rashan Gary
Defensive Tackle, 6-3 293lbs (Parmus, NJ)
Crazy to think that Clemson could be in position to land the nation’s top two defensive tackles, but I’m here to tell you Clemson is squarely in the conversation.  Michigan has been the defaulted front-runner by recruiting services nation wide, and Ole Miss is thought to be near the top of his list as well.  Gary has already taken official visits to Michigan, Auburn, and Ole Miss meaning that he has two left. Southern Cal is slated to host him on January 15th and he’s hinted at Clemson receiving his final visit either on January 22nd or 29th.   If the Tigers are able to get him on campus then all bets are off.  Gary’s mother fell in love with the Clemson atmosphere when the two visited last Spring.  Another big advantage for Clemson is the fact that Gary’s uncle lives right down the road in Anderson.  This will be one to keep a very close eye on.
(1/16) Gary is on campus at Southern Cal for his OV
(1/18) The visit to Southern Cal went about as good as it could have, but they aren’t going to be his destination. The aforementioned leader Michigan is slated to host him this weekend on an unofficial visit.  At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t seal the deal even further.  Now that final visit that Clemson is vying for seems 50/50 at best leading me to lower the percentages here.
(1/20) Reports have surfaced that Clemson coaches conducted an in-home visit with Gary on Tuesday night.  If the reports are true, that means the staff gave their final sales pitch to attempt to lure the nation’s #1 prospect in for an OV on the last weekend before NSD.  Clemson is fighting Alabama for that final visit, but Gary is headed to his perceived front runner Michigan this weekend for an extended unofficial.  There’s no doubt that Harbaugh will pull out all the stops in an attempt to keep Gary from making that final visit, which is the only thing that could prevent him from signing with the Wolverines.
(1/22) All signs are pointing to Gary taking an OV to Clemson over Alabama for the final weekend. Obviously that’s good news for Tiger fans if he follows through with that visit.
(1/24) Gary will not depart from Ann Arbor until Monday due to snowy conditions that prevented travel on Sunday. I maintain the belief that Gary will follow through with his visit to Clemson next weekend, but a decision in regards to that visit has not been made public at this time.
(1/26) Gary and his mother are expected to decide tonight where he will take his final visit. This observer still believes that visit will be to Clemson.
(1/26) News broke late Tuesday night that Gary has decided to take his last OV to Clemson. Percentages up.
(1/28) Gary will be in Atlanta Thursday night to pick up an award.  He will then head up I-85 to Clemson on Friday. That visit is expected to last through Sunday afternoon.
(1/29) Rashan and his mother arrived to Clemson early Friday and were seen spending time with freshman DT Christian Wilkins and early enrollees Shaq Smith and Dexter Lawrence.  Gary is expected to stay at his uncles house during the visit, which reinforces the family pull that sits in Clemson’s corner.
(1/31) Both Gary and his mother stayed for their entire visit, which is key because Alabama was trying to lure him to campus on Sunday before he headed back to New Jersey. The returns from the visit have been through the roof as Clemson fans have grown accustomed to under Dabo’s regime.  I do in fact believe that this visit made Gary’s decision a difficult one, but whether it was enough to unseat Michigan remains to be seen. Now comes the waiting game. Gary will announce his decision on Wednesday at 1pm. Percentages up.
(2/1) Details have slowly leaked out today surrounding this past weekends OV to Clemson, and the returns are even better than anticipated.  Rashan bonded well with his several hosts and his mother was impressed with the academic sides of things. His mother cited that they just got a different vibe at Clemson, and they were treated with open arms unlike their experiences on some other campuses. I’m now comfortable labeling this decision as a toss up. This is also strictly a Michigan/Clemson race, the other schools in contention have been eliminated. Percentages up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 50%

John Simpson
Offensive Line, 6-4 290lbs (North Charleston, SC)
Without a doubt the top remaining target on the board, Simpson has played his recruitment close to the vest since hinting at Clemson as his leader back in the Summer. The Palmetto state native has been a frequent visitor to Clemson’s campus, but still has an official visit on the docket for January 23rd.  He also has two more officials set up to Florida (January 16th) and Alabama (January 30th).  It’ll be worth watching to see if Simpson decides to give the new staff at South Carolina a look, which could happen considering a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.  What this all boils down to is that Clemson has done all they can do to in their recruitment of Simpson and they just have to simply stay the course.
(1/16) Simpson is on campus at Florida for his OV
(1/18) The trip to Gainesville definitely helped the Gators cause, but I’m still of the belief that LSU is Clemson’s biggest contender as of now. I’ve stated above how Clemson has pretty much done all they can do here, but they will get at least one more shot to pitch Simpson this weekend when he makes his long anticipated official to the Upstate.  South Carolina is still lobbying for a visit either midweek or in place of Alabama, but that has not formalized yet.
(1/24) Simpson wrapped up his Clemson visit Sunday afternoon.  The visit went about as well as it could, and this situation remains status quo.  Be patient.
(1/26) Reports indicate that his Alabama visit may be off.  This would be important for two reasons: 1) Alabama would be officially out of the picture and 2) South Carolina may back in the picture.  If Simpson decides to venture to South Carolina for this final weekend then there will certainly be reason for concern.
(1/27) South Carolina site is now reporting that the Gamecocks have been eliminated from consideration. This is a Clemson/Florida battle. Percentages up slightly.
(1/29) Florida may be much more of a factor than previously perceived. The Gators sent several coaches including head coach Jim McElwain to see Simpson earlier in the week, and that visit helped lock Florida in his top two. I still believe Simpson ends up a Tiger, but I’m going to temper expectations somewhat.
(1/31) Simpson will announce on Wednesday at 12:30.  Everything still pointing towards Clemson at this time.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 75%

Trayvon Mullen
Cornerback, 6-1 170lbs (Pompano Beach, FL)
An expected visitor this weekend, Mullen had once proclaimed Clemson as his dream school.  That interest hasn’t seemed to carry over into his recruiting process as FSU and LSU have sat atop his list for quite some time.  Over the last couple months, Clemson has rejoined the party and is set to roll the “Orange carpet” out this weekend for the rangy corner.  Mullen didn’t exactly shine in the Army All-American game, but he possesses the tools to blossom into an outstanding corner with a year or two in the weight room. The Tigers will be able to sell immediate playing time and NFL potential given the production at corner over the last decade.
(1/16) Mullen is on campus at Clemson for his OV. He attended the basketball game earlier this afternoon.
(1/18) After talking with several current Clemson commits who were around Mullen during his visit I think it’s safe to say the staff certainly made an impression.  Mullen was hosted by Ray Ray McCloud and Rahshaun Smith, both prize recruits out of Florida themselves.  If today were signing day I have a feeling that Mullen would be signing with Clemson, but the fact he has a visit set up to Baton Rogue next week makes me a little weary.  Nonetheless, I’m going to slightly raise the percentage here.
(1/22) Mullen is heading to LSU today for his last OV.
(1/24) Despite his OV this weekend, this is looking more like an FSU/Clemson battle as of now.  LSU has two corners committed and are the favorites to land the nation’s second ranked corner as well.  Mullen will take the last weekend off and is planning to announce his NSD commitment on ESPNU.
(1/27) The sentiment that this is a Clemson/FSU battle seems to be true.  The Noles are the favorite, but are in good standing with another 4-star corner Carlos Becker and that is a small benefit in Clemson’s favor.  The staff still has their in-home visit to use as well.
(1/30) Mullen has made a surprise visit to Louisville this weekend. Not sure if they will factor into his NSD decision, but the fact he’s back on campus after taking an OV on December 12th is noteworthy.
(2/2) My gut feeling here is still Florida State. Mullen has stayed relatively quiet and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick Clemson or even clutter up LSU’s secondary even more. This one is truly a toss up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Romeo Finley
Safety, 6-1 198lbs (Niceville, FL)
Perhaps the newest name to emerge on the board for Clemson is Finley.  The 4-star safety has a busy couple weeks ahead with visits to Georgia Tech (January 15th), Clemson (January 22nd), and Miami (January 29th) on his slate.  With the new regime in place at Miami, they will try to make a run and are the likely favorites at this point.  However, Finley doesn’t have to look far to see the pipeline of success from Florida to Clemson that includes defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander who just bolted for the NFL.  The staff will have plenty to sell Finley when he steps on campus, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough this late in the process.
(1/16) Finley is on campus at Georgia Tech for his official visit. Given Clemson’s standing with Thomas and now Simmons at safety I’m going to lower my percentages.
(1/18) The Georgia Tech sites are now reporting that Finley has identified the Yellow Jackets as his clear cut leader following his trip to Atlanta over the weekend.  Clemson is set to host him this weekend before he heads to Miami, who I deem as the largest threat, on the last weekend before NSD.  Just a personal note, I don’t believe Finley is at the top of Clemson’s safety board.
(1/19) Defensive backs coach Mike Reed conducted an in-home visit with Finley on Monday night prior to his OV this coming weekend.
(1/21) Finley hosted Miami coaches including new HC Mark Richt for an in home visit on Wednesday evening.  He’s still planning to take an OV to Coral Gables following his Clemson trip this coming weekend.
(1/24) Finley’s visit to Clemson this weekend was an eye opener.  Both Finley and Simpson got to experience Clemson’s 2016 awards banquet that was sure to impress.  The Florida native also got his first taste of snow, and it just happened to be inside of Death Valley where Dabo Swinney was seen sledding down The Hill.  Defensive backs coach Mike Reed also made sure Finley was well aware of the potential for early playing time due to the mass exodus at safety. He’ll head down to Miami for his final visit before rendering a decision on NSD. I’m going to raise the percentages here.
(1/28) Dabo Swinney and Mike Reed dropped by Niceville High today to see Finley. Georgia Tech coaches came by as well.
(1/29) Finley is at Miami for his final OV.
(1/31) The 4-star safety will announce his decision on Tuesday via his twitter account.  Clemson has positioned itself well and I would not be surprised to see him join the 2016 class. Percentages up slightly.
(2/1) With Simmons supposedly announcing for Clemson at 5, I’d be surprised if Finely announced for Clemson as well.  Not ruling the possibility out but I don’t believe the staff is wanting to take both at this time unless they know they’re missing on Mullen and Wallace. Percentages down.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 30%

Michail Carter
Defensive Tackle, 6-4 300lbs (Jackson, GA)
This is definitely one of the more interesting names on the board considering the depth Clemson has accumulated at the defensive tackle spot.  Carter appears to have legitimate interest in the Tigers, and the interest seems to have been reciprocated back from the staff.  The 4-star prospect also has a busy schedule upcoming starting with a visit to Clemson (January 15th) before seeing instate rivals Georgia Tech (January 22nd) and Georgia (January 29th).  The Bulldogs new HC Kirby Smart holds the trump card here if he decides Carter is a take in their class.  Just based on numbers alone I would be surprised if Clemson decided to take another DT, but maybe the staff has plans to move some guys around.  This will be a recruit to keep a close eye on.
(1/16) Carter is on campus at Clemson for his official visit. He attended the basketball game earlier today and Austin Bryant is his host.
(1/18) Fresh off the visit to Clemson there is really no news to report.  Carter isn’t one to talk with reporters and he’s kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part.  The instate schools are set to hosts him over the next two weekends, and I believe that the Bulldogs still hold the cards here depending on how they feel Carter compares with some of their other targets.  There could also be a visit in the works to Alabama, but that has yet to be scheduled as of this moment.
(1/22) Continuing to hear and read positive things surrounding Carter to Clemson. I’m a little surprised based on the depth at DT, but there’s no way you turn down a Top 100 player out of a pipeline state. Percentages up.
(1/24) Carter visited Georgia Tech this weekend. I don’t foresee them being a factor in his recruitment.
(1/28) Derrick Brown, a 5-star DT out of Georgia, announced a top 3 of Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee.  This is important because most had Brown as a lock to UGA, meaning that Carter was on the fence as a take.  Well now that it appears Brown is out of the picture that would lead one to believe UGA is the perceived front runner for Carter now. Percentages down.
(1/29) The freshness from Clemson’s visit seems to have worn off and this seems to be a UGA/Alabama battle. Not ruling out a signing day surprise, but this is a stretch at this point.
(2/1) All signs point to UGA.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 5%

Isaiah Simmons
Safety, 6-3 212lbs (Olathe, KS)
Brent Venables paid a visit back to his old stomping grounds out in Kansas to see Simmons, a rangy 6’3 212lb safety.  He currently has visits set up to Mizzou (1/15), Nebraska (1/22), and Louisville (1/30).  Simmons certainly fits the mold of the bigger prototypes that Clemson has identified as it’s preference at the safety position over the last few cycles.  This is another example of Clemson’s newfound national reputation allowing them to expand their recruiting reach to areas that have been irrelevant for the staff.  Keep an eye out for news in regard to a potential visit.
(1/15) Venables extended an offer and appears to have gotten an official visit in place for January 29th. We’ll see if that impacts his Louisville visit or not.
(1/16) Simmons received an offer from Michigan tonight.  No word on whether or not he made it to Mizzou for his scheduled visit.
(1/18) Simmons did in fact make the scheduled visit to Missouri. And there is news to report on the potential visit to Clemson.  The scheduled trip for the 29th did bump Louisville out of their visit slot, which tells you that the Tigers are under serious consideration.  The rumblings on this front seem to be carrying some weight and Clemson is riding the wave of momentum from a 14 win season here.  Getting him on campus is key, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Percentage is going up.
(1/20) After offering last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit with Simmons on Monday evening.  He would like to visit Ann Arbor, but time and scheduling are an issue.  Nebraska, where Simmons is visiting this weekend, is the biggest threat as of now.
(1/22) Simmons is headed to Lincoln today for his OV.  Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat to the Tigers.
(1/25) Swinney and Venables conducted an in home visit Sunday evening. Things are trending up for the Tigers before his visit this weekend. Percentage up.
(1/26) Michigan sites are reporting that Simmons will OV in Ann Arbor on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Clemson this weekend. I’m still of the impression that Nebraska is the biggest threat here, and after talking with Clemson commit Xavier Kelly I feel even better about Simmons to Clemson.
(1/29) Simmons arrived to Clemson around 7pm on Friday evening on the heels of a midweek OV to Michigan. Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat here.
(1/31) Returns from Simmons visit to Clemson have been pretty quiet, but that has more to do with the fact that his visit was overshadowed by the Gary visit and elite Junior Day turnout.  Simmons is also not keen with revealing info to the media, which is understandable given the constant hounding.  Still feel good here.
(2/1) Reports indicate that Nebraska’s proximity and option to play either side of the ball may be too much for Clemson to overcome. I get the feeling Clemson is now on the outside looking in as his visit did not seem to blow him away. Percentages down slightly.(2/1) Simmons tweeted out he will be announcing at 5pm on Tuesday, just before fellow safety target Romeo Finley. Also, several of the midwest recruiting guys are reporting that Simmons in leaning to Clemson. Simmons hasn’t made himself available for interview to us, but it looks like things are back in Clemson’s favor just a couple hours after I posted that I felt Nebraska was his likely destination.
(2/2) All signs pointing heavily towards a Clemson announcement tonight. Percentages way up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 80%

K’Von Wallace
Defensive back, 6-1 180lbs (Highland Springs, Virginia)
Clemson extended an offer to the Cincinnati commit on Sunday evening.  Wallace is a solid athlete that starred on both sides of the ball at the high school level. Clemson is recruiting him as a defensive back, most likely at corner. Over the last two weeks he’s added offers from Maryland, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Arizona. With all these big offers coming so late it’s tough to know the impact it holds, but the fact one is coming from of the hottest programs in the country could make thing interesting. Keep an eye out to see if a visit it set up for the final weekend before NSD.
(1/26) News surfaced earlier today that Wallace would OV to Clemson tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.  That was before he added two more big time offers from Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are his favorite school and could potentially be a gamechanger here.  Assuming he makes that scheduled OV, percentages up.
(1/27) Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed paid Wallace an in-home visit today. He’s also supposed to visit Clemson today and tomorrow, but I’m not sure when that visit will begin if he just had an in-home this AM. Clemson’s board at corner also seems to be dwindling down meaning that Wallace will become more of a priority.
(1/28) I can confirm that Wallace made it into town yesterday evening and spent time with defensive players Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, and Clelin Ferrell.
(1/28) Wallace just tweeted out that he will take a visit to Ohio State this weekend, which knocks Pitt from consideration.  The Buckeyes interest appears legit and they will be tough to beat out.
(1/29) Wallace enjoyed his midweek OV and claimed the Tigers have given him plenty to think about.  The only thing is he won’t have much time to digest all the happenings as he ventured to Ohio State upon his return home from the Upstate today.  Like I said above, if the Buckeyes want him he’s likely theirs.
(1/31) He has plans to announce at his school on Wednesday, but a time has not been set. This is likely a Clemson/Ohio State battle with the Buckeyes still holding the trump card.
(2/2) Announcing at 9:30am tomorrow at his school. That time is imporant, because it’s 30 minutes after Trayvon Mullen’s announcement. Ohio State also picked up a 4-star corner commitment yesterday. Feeling better about the Tigers chances here. Percentages up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 50%

Other Notes
Wide receiver Jayson Hopper and offensive lineman Cade Stewart are also under consideration for preferred walk-on spots.  Both prospects are Palmetto State natives and both played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
(1/15) Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks paid 4-star corner Marquez Callaway a visit yesterday.  He currently has three officials set up for the next three weekends to Tenn, MSU, and Ole Miss. Clemson and Ohio State are trying to get a foot in the door for the remaining visit.  If a visit comes to fruition he will officially be added to the board. .
(1/15) Malek Young commits to Miami. Removed from board.
(1/21) Callway committed to Tennessee as a WR(1/21) Matthew Ryan, an OL out of New Orleans, is expected in for an official visit this weekend.  Ryan does not have an official offer as he will be brought in as a preferred walk-on.  In case you’re wondering he is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and nephew to Bill HC Rex Ryan, who’s son Seth is a walk-on WR for the Tigers.
(1/24) Ryan has accepted the walk-on spot and will join the Tigers next Fall.
(1/25) An update to the Cade Stewart situation listed above: He was in town for a visit over the weekend and has reportedly been offered as a greyshirt.  Stewart committed to Georgia Southern last week, but the hometown Tigers will be tough to turn down.
(2/1) Stewart accepted the grayshirt offer from Clemson today as expected.
(2/2) Removed Daniel Thomas, Arkeem Byrd, and Lavert Hill.

February 1st NSD Primer Update

NOTE: The original study was published weeks ago and updates have been added as marked by the dates.

Fresh off a welcomed extension to their season, the Clemson coaching staff will hit the ground running with just 3 weeks remaining until National Signing Day (February 3rd).  The 2016 recruiting class currently stands firm with 15 pledges, including 6 commitments that are already on campus as early enrollees.  Given the recent surge of underclassmen bolting for the draft and potential transfers I’d expect Clemson to try and add between 3-4 more prospects before calling it a day.  In this article we’ll take a look at the current remaining targets on Clemson’s board, and I’ll offer some percentages that are based solely on the information that I’m armed with as of today.  These percentages will carry very little weight as the recruiting landscape changes over the next few weeks. You can also probably expect a new name or two to pop up given the mass exodus of players to the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rashan Gary
Defensive Tackle, 6-3 293lbs (Parmus, NJ)
Crazy to think that Clemson could be in position to land the nation’s top two defensive tackles, but I’m here to tell you Clemson is squarely in the conversation.  Michigan has been the defaulted front-runner by recruiting services nation wide, and Ole Miss is thought to be near the top of his list as well.  Gary has already taken official visits to Michigan, Auburn, and Ole Miss meaning that he has two left. Southern Cal is slated to host him on January 15th and he’s hinted at Clemson receiving his final visit either on January 22nd or 29th.   If the Tigers are able to get him on campus then all bets are off.  Gary’s mother fell in love with the Clemson atmosphere when the two visited last Spring.  Another big advantage for Clemson is the fact that Gary’s uncle lives right down the road in Anderson.  This will be one to keep a very close eye on.
(1/16) Gary is on campus at Southern Cal for his OV
(1/18) The visit to Southern Cal went about as good as it could have, but they aren’t going to be his destination. The aforementioned leader Michigan is slated to host him this weekend on an unofficial visit.  At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t seal the deal even further.  Now that final visit that Clemson is vying for seems 50/50 at best leading me to lower the percentages here.
(1/20) Reports have surfaced that Clemson coaches conducted an in-home visit with Gary on Tuesday night.  If the reports are true, that means the staff gave their final sales pitch to attempt to lure the nation’s #1 prospect in for an OV on the last weekend before NSD.  Clemson is fighting Alabama for that final visit, but Gary is headed to his perceived front runner Michigan this weekend for an extended unofficial.  There’s no doubt that Harbaugh will pull out all the stops in an attempt to keep Gary from making that final visit, which is the only thing that could prevent him from signing with the Wolverines.
(1/22) All signs are pointing to Gary taking an OV to Clemson over Alabama for the final weekend. Obviously that’s good news for Tiger fans if he follows through with that visit.
(1/24) Gary will not depart from Ann Arbor until Monday due to snowy conditions that prevented travel on Sunday. I maintain the belief that Gary will follow through with his visit to Clemson next weekend, but a decision in regards to that visit has not been made public at this time.
(1/26) Gary and his mother are expected to decide tonight where he will take his final visit. This observer still believes that visit will be to Clemson.
(1/26) News broke late Tuesday night that Gary has decided to take his last OV to Clemson. Percentages up.
(1/28) Gary will be in Atlanta Thursday night to pick up an award.  He will then head up I-85 to Clemson on Friday. That visit is expected to last through Sunday afternoon.
(1/29) Rashan and his mother arrived to Clemson early Friday and were seen spending time with freshman DT Christian Wilkins and early enrollees Shaq Smith and Dexter Lawrence.  Gary is expected to stay at his uncles house during the visit, which reinforces the family pull that sits in Clemson’s corner.
(1/31) Both Gary and his mother stayed for their entire visit, which is key because Alabama was trying to lure him to campus on Sunday before he headed back to New Jersey. The returns from the visit have been through the roof as Clemson fans have grown accustomed to under Dabo’s regime.  I do in fact believe that this visit made Gary’s decision a difficult one, but whether it was enough to unseat Michigan remains to be seen. Now comes the waiting game. Gary will announce his decision on Wednesday at 1pm. Percentages up.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 35%

John Simpson
Offensive Line, 6-4 290lbs (North Charleston, SC)
Without a doubt the top remaining target on the board, Simpson has played his recruitment close to the vest since hinting at Clemson as his leader back in the Summer. The Palmetto state native has been a frequent visitor to Clemson’s campus, but still has an official visit on the docket for January 23rd.  He also has two more officials set up to Florida (January 16th) and Alabama (January 30th).  It’ll be worth watching to see if Simpson decides to give the new staff at South Carolina a look, which could happen considering a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.  What this all boils down to is that Clemson has done all they can do to in their recruitment of Simpson and they just have to simply stay the course.
(1/16) Simpson is on campus at Florida for his OV
(1/18) The trip to Gainesville definitely helped the Gators cause, but I’m still of the belief that LSU is Clemson’s biggest contender as of now. I’ve stated above how Clemson has pretty much done all they can do here, but they will get at least one more shot to pitch Simpson this weekend when he makes his long anticipated official to the Upstate.  South Carolina is still lobbying for a visit either midweek or in place of Alabama, but that has not formalized yet.
(1/24) Simpson wrapped up his Clemson visit Sunday afternoon.  The visit went about as well as it could, and this situation remains status quo.  Be patient.
(1/26) Reports indicate that his Alabama visit may be off.  This would be important for two reasons: 1) Alabama would be officially out of the picture and 2) South Carolina may back in the picture.  If Simpson decides to venture to South Carolina for this final weekend then there will certainly be reason for concern.
(1/27) South Carolina site is now reporting that the Gamecocks have been eliminated from consideration. This is a Clemson/Florida battle. Percentages up slightly.
(1/29) Florida may be much more of a factor than previously perceived. The Gators sent several coaches including head coach Jim McElwain to see Simpson earlier in the week, and that visit helped lock Florida in his top two. I still believe Simpson ends up a Tiger, but I’m going to temper expectations somewhat.
(1/31) Simpson will announce on Wednesday at 12:30.  Everything still pointing towards Clemson at this time.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 75%

Trayvon Mullen
Cornerback, 6-1 170lbs (Pompano Beach, FL)
An expected visitor this weekend, Mullen had once proclaimed Clemson as his dream school.  That interest hasn’t seemed to carry over into his recruiting process as FSU and LSU have sat atop his list for quite some time.  Over the last couple months, Clemson has rejoined the party and is set to roll the “Orange carpet” out this weekend for the rangy corner.  Mullen didn’t exactly shine in the Army All-American game, but he possesses the tools to blossom into an outstanding corner with a year or two in the weight room. The Tigers will be able to sell immediate playing time and NFL potential given the production at corner over the last decade.
(1/16) Mullen is on campus at Clemson for his OV. He attended the basketball game earlier this afternoon.
(1/18) After talking with several current Clemson commits who were around Mullen during his visit I think it’s safe to say the staff certainly made an impression.  Mullen was hosted by Ray Ray McCloud and Rahshaun Smith, both prize recruits out of Florida themselves.  If today were signing day I have a feeling that Mullen would be signing with Clemson, but the fact he has a visit set up to Baton Rogue next week makes me a little weary.  Nonetheless, I’m going to slightly raise the percentage here.
(1/22) Mullen is heading to LSU today for his last OV.
(1/24) Despite his OV this weekend, this is looking more like an FSU/Clemson battle as of now.  LSU has two corners committed and are the favorites to land the nation’s second ranked corner as well.  Mullen will take the last weekend off and is planning to announce his NSD commitment on ESPNU.
(1/27) The sentiment that this is a Clemson/FSU battle seems to be true.  The Noles are the favorite, but are in good standing with another 4-star corner Carlos Becker and that is a small benefit in Clemson’s favor.  The staff still has their in-home visit to use as well.
(1/30) Mullen has made a surprise visit to Louisville this weekend. Not sure if they will factor into his NSD decision, but the fact he’s back on campus after taking an OV on December 12th is noteworthy.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Romeo Finley
Safety, 6-1 198lbs (Niceville, FL)
Perhaps the newest name to emerge on the board for Clemson is Finley.  The 4-star safety has a busy couple weeks ahead with visits to Georgia Tech (January 15th), Clemson (January 22nd), and Miami (January 29th) on his slate.  With the new regime in place at Miami, they will try to make a run and are the likely favorites at this point.  However, Finley doesn’t have to look far to see the pipeline of success from Florida to Clemson that includes defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander who just bolted for the NFL.  The staff will have plenty to sell Finley when he steps on campus, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough this late in the process.
(1/16) Finley is on campus at Georgia Tech for his official visit. Given Clemson’s standing with Thomas and now Simmons at safety I’m going to lower my percentages.
(1/18) The Georgia Tech sites are now reporting that Finley has identified the Yellow Jackets as his clear cut leader following his trip to Atlanta over the weekend.  Clemson is set to host him this weekend before he heads to Miami, who I deem as the largest threat, on the last weekend before NSD.  Just a personal note, I don’t believe Finley is at the top of Clemson’s safety board.
(1/19) Defensive backs coach Mike Reed conducted an in-home visit with Finley on Monday night prior to his OV this coming weekend.
(1/21) Finley hosted Miami coaches including new HC Mark Richt for an in home visit on Wednesday evening.  He’s still planning to take an OV to Coral Gables following his Clemson trip this coming weekend.
(1/24) Finley’s visit to Clemson this weekend was an eye opener.  Both Finley and Simpson got to experience Clemson’s 2016 awards banquet that was sure to impress.  The Florida native also got his first taste of snow, and it just happened to be inside of Death Valley where Dabo Swinney was seen sledding down The Hill.  Defensive backs coach Mike Reed also made sure Finley was well aware of the potential for early playing time due to the mass exodus at safety. He’ll head down to Miami for his final visit before rendering a decision on NSD. I’m going to raise the percentages here.
(1/28) Dabo Swinney and Mike Reed dropped by Niceville High today to see Finley. Georgia Tech coaches came by as well.
(1/29) Finley is at Miami for his final OV.
(1/31) The 4-star safety will announce his decision on Tuesday via his twitter account.  Clemson has positioned itself well and I would not be surprised to see him join the 2016 class. Percentages up slightly.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Michail Carter
Defensive Tackle, 6-4 300lbs (Jackson, GA)
This is definitely one of the more interesting names on the board considering the depth Clemson has accumulated at the defensive tackle spot.  Carter appears to have legitimate interest in the Tigers, and the interest seems to have been reciprocated back from the staff.  The 4-star prospect also has a busy schedule upcoming starting with a visit to Clemson (January 15th) before seeing instate rivals Georgia Tech (January 22nd) and Georgia (January 29th).  The Bulldogs new HC Kirby Smart holds the trump card here if he decides Carter is a take in their class.  Just based on numbers alone I would be surprised if Clemson decided to take another DT, but maybe the staff has plans to move some guys around.  This will be a recruit to keep a close eye on.
(1/16) Carter is on campus at Clemson for his official visit. He attended the basketball game earlier today and Austin Bryant is his host.
(1/18) Fresh off the visit to Clemson there is really no news to report.  Carter isn’t one to talk with reporters and he’s kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part.  The instate schools are set to hosts him over the next two weekends, and I believe that the Bulldogs still hold the cards here depending on how they feel Carter compares with some of their other targets.  There could also be a visit in the works to Alabama, but that has yet to be scheduled as of this moment.
(1/22) Continuing to hear and read positive things surrounding Carter to Clemson. I’m a little surprised based on the depth at DT, but there’s no way you turn down a Top 100 player out of a pipeline state. Percentages up.
(1/24) Carter visited Georgia Tech this weekend. I don’t foresee them being a factor in his recruitment.
(1/28) Derrick Brown, a 5-star DT out of Georgia, announced a top 3 of Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee.  This is important because most had Brown as a lock to UGA, meaning that Carter was on the fence as a take.  Well now that it appears Brown is out of the picture that would lead one to believe UGA is the perceived front runner for Carter now. Percentages down.
(1/29) The freshness from Clemson’s visit seems to have worn off and this seems to be a UGA/Alabama battle. Not ruling out a signing day surprise, but this is a stretch at this point.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 15%

Isaiah Simmons
Safety, 6-3 212lbs (Olathe, KS)
Brent Venables paid a visit back to his old stomping grounds out in Kansas to see Simmons, a rangy 6’3 212lb safety.  He currently has visits set up to Mizzou (1/15), Nebraska (1/22), and Louisville (1/30).  Simmons certainly fits the mold of the bigger prototypes that Clemson has identified as it’s preference at the safety position over the last few cycles.  This is another example of Clemson’s newfound national reputation allowing them to expand their recruiting reach to areas that have been irrelevant for the staff.  Keep an eye out for news in regard to a potential visit.
(1/15) Venables extended an offer and appears to have gotten an official visit in place for January 29th. We’ll see if that impacts his Louisville visit or not.
(1/16) Simmons received an offer from Michigan tonight.  No word on whether or not he made it to Mizzou for his scheduled visit.
(1/18) Simmons did in fact make the scheduled visit to Missouri. And there is news to report on the potential visit to Clemson.  The scheduled trip for the 29th did bump Louisville out of their visit slot, which tells you that the Tigers are under serious consideration.  The rumblings on this front seem to be carrying some weight and Clemson is riding the wave of momentum from a 14 win season here.  Getting him on campus is key, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Percentage is going up.
(1/20) After offering last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit with Simmons on Monday evening.  He would like to visit Ann Arbor, but time and scheduling are an issue.  Nebraska, where Simmons is visiting this weekend, is the biggest threat as of now.
(1/22) Simmons is headed to Lincoln today for his OV.  Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat to the Tigers.
(1/25) Swinney and Venables conducted an in home visit Sunday evening. Things are trending up for the Tigers before his visit this weekend. Percentage up.
(1/26) Michigan sites are reporting that Simmons will OV in Ann Arbor on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Clemson this weekend. I’m still of the impression that Nebraska is the biggest threat here, and after talking with Clemson commit Xavier Kelly I feel even better about Simmons to Clemson.
(1/29) Simmons arrived to Clemson around 7pm on Friday evening on the heels of a midweek OV to Michigan. Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat here.
(1/31) Returns from Simmons visit to Clemson have been pretty quiet, but that has more to do with the fact that his visit was overshadowed by the Gary visit and elite Junior Day turnout.  Simmons is also not keen with revealing info to the media, which is understandable given the constant hounding.  Still feel good here.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 55%

K’Von Wallace
Defensive back, 6-1 180lbs (Highland Springs, Virginia)
Clemson extended an offer to the Cincinnati commit on Sunday evening.  Wallace is a solid athlete that starred on both sides of the ball at the high school level. Clemson is recruiting him as a defensive back, most likely at corner. Over the last two weeks he’s added offers from Maryland, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Arizona. With all these big offers coming so late it’s tough to know the impact it holds, but the fact one is coming from of the hottest programs in the country could make thing interesting. Keep an eye out to see if a visit it set up for the final weekend before NSD.
(1/26) News surfaced earlier today that Wallace would OV to Clemson tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.  That was before he added two more big time offers from Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are his favorite school and could potentially be a gamechanger here.  Assuming he makes that scheduled OV, percentages up.
(1/27) Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed paid Wallace an in-home visit today. He’s also supposed to visit Clemson today and tomorrow, but I’m not sure when that visit will begin if he just had an in-home this AM. Clemson’s board at corner also seems to be dwindling down meaning that Wallace will become more of a priority.
(1/28) I can confirm that Wallace made it into town yesterday evening and spent time with defensive players Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, and Clelin Ferrell.
(1/28) Wallace just tweeted out that he will take a visit to Ohio State this weekend, which knocks Pitt from consideration.  The Buckeyes interest appears legit and they will be tough to beat out.
(1/29) Wallace enjoyed his midweek OV and claimed the Tigers have given him plenty to think about.  The only thing is he won’t have much time to digest all the happenings as he ventured to Ohio State upon his return home from the Upstate today.  Like I said above, if the Buckeyes want him he’s likely theirs.
(1/31) He has plans to announce at his school on Wednesday, but a time has not been set. This is likely a Clemson/Ohio State battle with the Buckeyes still holding the trump card.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 30%

Daniel Thomas
Safety, 6-0 190lbs (Montgomery, AL)
Another new name on the board at defensive back is a fast rising prospect out of Alabama.  Thomas has blown up rather quickly, garnering offers from Clemson, Louisville, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina since the start of December.  Clemson coaches are expected to pay Thomas a visit at his home before weeks end, and there’s reason to believe the Tigers are in very good standing here.  Thomas is currently planning to visit South Carolina (January 15th), Maryland (January 22nd), and Clemson (January 29th).  This recruitment draws many parallels to that of TJ Green, who was an unknown late addition out of Alabama in the 2013 class.  Green declared early for the NFL Draft earlier this week.  Pretty nice recruiting pitch for the Clemson staff to have in their back pocket.
(1/15) Defensive Backs coach Mike Reed made an in-home visit last night
(1/16) Thomas is on campus at South Carolina for his official visit.
(1/18) As expected, the Gamecocks rolled out the garnet carpet this weekend for their visitors and Thomas came away impressed.  The Gamecocks certainly helped their case, but given the success of another underrated Alabama prospect that Clemson has helped reach the NFL I believe the Tigers have the inside track.  It’s also important to note that Thomas hasn’t been on many visits to Power-5 schools so Columbia was likely an eye opener for him.  He’ll head to Maryland this coming weekend, but I don’t foresee them being a factor down the stretch.
(1/21) UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik paid Thomas a visit earlier this week and is attempting to lure him to Chapel Hill in place of Maryland this weekend.
(1/22) Thomas told me last night the Maryland visit is off. UNC & Louisville are possible replacements. After his OV to Columbia, the Gamecocks are the team to beat.  But the Tigers will have there chance to match or exceed their visit right before NSD. I’m lowering the percentages down from 60%.
(1/24) Thomas tweeted out Sunday night that he is in Chapel Hill for a surprise visit. No word whether this is an official or unofficial, but I’d assume it will be a shortened OV. Seems that Thomas is a little overwhelmed with all the new attention he’s gotten this late in the cycle, and he’s truly wide open right now.  This may be one of those cases that the last visit seals the deal. Clemson gets the last visit.
(1/26) Thomas is no longer visiting Clemson this weekend, and is instead headed to Auburn.  As I hinted above, this late attention has been overwhelming for him.  He’s now cancelled two OVs at the last second. And with this news he’s off the board.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Arkeem Byrd
Defensive Back, 6-1 190lbs (Savannah, GA)
This is a player that’s seen his stock rise rather quickly over the last few weeks. Both Georgia Tech and Tennessee offered in December before the Tigers reached out shortly after Christmas.  Missouri also offered earlier this week to join the race. Clemson hasn’t formally extended an offer to Byrd, but he’s told me he expects the coaches to stop in sometime after the conclusion of the dead period.  Byrd is a dynamic athlete who made his name as a running back at the high school level.  Clemson is strictly evaluating him as a defensive back, most likely safety.  Right now the Volunteers and Yellow Jackets hold the lead with their formal offers, but Clemson could certainly shake things up if they decide to move in with one of their own.
(1/16) Byrd is on campus at Wake Forest for his OV.
(1/22) The Clemson staff has not been in touch lately. Tells you all you need to know.
(1/26) Clemson is looking in a different direction here.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Lavert Hill
Cornerback, 5-10 172lbs (Detroit, MI)
Clemson extended a late offer last week in hopes of drawing interest as well as expanding their board at defensive back.  Hill is a nationally coveted recruit and was committed to Penn State up until November 29th.  Since his decommitment he has been thought to favor in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State.  Hill used two of his officials in December when he ventured to Tennessee and Michigan in consecutive weeks.  For his remaining two officials he’s penciled in Clemson (January 20th) and Michigan State (January 22nd).  Hill had planned to visit Southern Cal, but those plans were axed yesterday.  This is a longshot for Clemson given the late offer and proximity to home, but just the fact he’s visiting shows you the national relevance this program has garnered.
(1/16) In place of his Southern Cal visit, Hill has traveled to Penn State for an OV. This is a very long shot at this point.
(1/22) Hill is headed to East Lansing this weekend. IMO, they are the favorites to land Hill at this point in time.
(1/27) Hill announced via twitter that he will forgo this weekends visit to Clemson and is set to decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. No surprise here, and likely allows coaching staff to focus on the plethora of other recruits that will be in town.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Other Notes
Wide receiver Jayson Hopper and offensive lineman Cade Stewart are also under consideration for preferred walk-on spots.  Both prospects are Palmetto State natives and both played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
(1/15) Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks paid 4-star corner Marquez Callaway a visit yesterday.  He currently has three officials set up for the next three weekends to Tenn, MSU, and Ole Miss. Clemson and Ohio State are trying to get a foot in the door for the remaining visit.  If a visit comes to fruition he will officially be added to the board. .
(1/15) Malek Young commits to Miami. Removed from board.
(1/21) Callway committed to Tennessee as a WR(1/21) Matthew Ryan, an OL out of New Orleans, is expected in for an official visit this weekend.  Ryan does not have an official offer as he will be brought in as a preferred walk-on.  In case you’re wondering he is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and nephew to Bill HC Rex Ryan, who’s son Seth is a walk-on WR for the Tigers.
(1/24) Ryan has accepted the walk-on spot and will join the Tigers next Fall.
(1/25) An update to the Cade Stewart situation listed above: He was in town for a visit over the weekend and has reportedly been offered as a greyshirt.  Stewart committed to Georgia Southern last week, but the hometown Tigers will be tough to turn down.

Friday NSD Primer Update

NOTE: The original story was published a couple weeks ago, so updates have been added as marked by the dates.

Fresh off a welcomed extension to their season, the Clemson coaching staff will hit the ground running with just 3 weeks remaining until National Signing Day (February 3rd).  The 2016 recruiting class currently stands firm with 15 pledges, including 6 commitments that are already on campus as early enrollees.  Given the recent surge of underclassmen bolting for the draft and potential transfers I’d expect Clemson to try and add between 3-4 more prospects before calling it a day.  In this article we’ll take a look at the current remaining targets on Clemson’s board, and I’ll offer some percentages that are based solely on the information that I’m armed with as of today.  These percentages will carry very little weight as the recruiting landscape changes over the next few weeks. You can also probably expect a new name or two to pop up given the mass exodus of players to the upcoming NFL Draft.

 

Rashan Gary
Defensive Tackle, 6-3 293lbs (Parmus, NJ)
Crazy to think that Clemson could be in position to land the nation’s top two defensive tackles, but I’m here to tell you Clemson is squarely in the conversation.  Michigan has been the defaulted front-runner by recruiting services nation wide, and Ole Miss is thought to be near the top of his list as well.  Gary has already taken official visits to Michigan, Auburn, and Ole Miss meaning that he has two left. Southern Cal is slated to host him on January 15th and he’s hinted at Clemson receiving his final visit either on January 22nd or 29th.   If the Tigers are able to get him on campus then all bets are off.  Gary’s mother fell in love with the Clemson atmosphere when the two visited last Spring.  Another big advantage for Clemson is the fact that Gary’s uncle lives right down the road in Anderson.  This will be one to keep a very close eye on.
(1/16) Gary is on campus at Southern Cal for his OV
(1/18) The visit to Southern Cal went about as good as it could have, but they aren’t going to be his destination. The aforementioned leader Michigan is slated to host him this weekend on an unofficial visit.  At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t seal the deal even further.  Now that final visit that Clemson is vying for seems 50/50 at best leading me to lower the percentages here.
(1/20) Reports have surfaced that Clemson coaches conducted an in-home visit with Gary on Tuesday night.  If the reports are true, that means the staff gave their final sales pitch to attempt to lure the nation’s #1 prospect in for an OV on the last weekend before NSD.  Clemson is fighting Alabama for that final visit, but Gary is headed to his perceived front runner Michigan this weekend for an extended unofficial.  There’s no doubt that Harbaugh will pull out all the stops in an attempt to keep Gary from making that final visit, which is the only thing that could prevent him from signing with the Wolverines.
(1/22) All signs are pointing to Gary taking an OV to Clemson over Alabama for the final weekend. Obviously that’s good news for Tiger fans if he follows through with that visit.
(1/24) Gary will not depart from Ann Arbor until Monday due to snowy conditions that prevented travel on Sunday. I maintain the belief that Gary will follow through with his visit to Clemson next weekend, but a decision in regards to that visit has not been made public at this time.
(1/26) Gary and his mother are expected to decide tonight where he will take his final visit. This observer still believes that visit will be to Clemson.
(1/26) News broke late Tuesday night that Gary has decided to take his last OV to Clemson. Percentages up.
(1/28) Gary will be in Atlanta Thursday night to pick up an award.  He will then head up I-85 to Clemson on Friday. That visit is expected to last through Sunday afternoon.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 20%

John Simpson
Offensive Line, 6-4 290lbs (North Charleston, SC)
Without a doubt the top remaining target on the board, Simpson has played his recruitment close to the vest since hinting at Clemson as his leader back in the Summer. The Palmetto state native has been a frequent visitor to Clemson’s campus, but still has an official visit on the docket for January 23rd.  He also has two more officials set up to Florida (January 16th) and Alabama (January 30th).  It’ll be worth watching to see if Simpson decides to give the new staff at South Carolina a look, which could happen considering a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.  What this all boils down to is that Clemson has done all they can do to in their recruitment of Simpson and they just have to simply stay the course.
(1/16) Simpson is on campus at Florida for his OV
(1/18) The trip to Gainesville definitely helped the Gators cause, but I’m still of the belief that LSU is Clemson’s biggest contender as of now. I’ve stated above how Clemson has pretty much done all they can do here, but they will get at least one more shot to pitch Simpson this weekend when he makes his long anticipated official to the Upstate.  South Carolina is still lobbying for a visit either midweek or in place of Alabama, but that has not formalized yet.
(1/24) Simpson wrapped up his Clemson visit Sunday afternoon.  The visit went about as well as it could, and this situation remains status quo.  Be patient.
(1/26) Reports indicate that his Alabama visit may be off.  This would be important for two reasons: 1) Alabama would be officially out of the picture and 2) South Carolina may back in the picture.  If Simpson decides to venture to South Carolina for this final weekend then there will certainly be reason for concern.
(1/27) South Carolina site is now reporting that the Gamecocks have been eliminated from consideration. This is a Clemson/Florida battle. Percentages up slightly.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 85%

Trayvon Mullen
Cornerback, 6-1 170lbs (Pompano Beach, FL)
An expected visitor this weekend, Mullen had once proclaimed Clemson as his dream school.  That interest hasn’t seemed to carry over into his recruiting process as FSU and LSU have sat atop his list for quite some time.  Over the last couple months, Clemson has rejoined the party and is set to roll the “Orange carpet” out this weekend for the rangy corner.  Mullen didn’t exactly shine in the Army All-American game, but he possesses the tools to blossom into an outstanding corner with a year or two in the weight room. The Tigers will be able to sell immediate playing time and NFL potential given the production at corner over the last decade.
(1/16) Mullen is on campus at Clemson for his OV. He attended the basketball game earlier this afternoon.
(1/18) After talking with several current Clemson commits who were around Mullen during his visit I think it’s safe to say the staff certainly made an impression.  Mullen was hosted by Ray Ray McCloud and Rahshaun Smith, both prize recruits out of Florida themselves.  If today were signing day I have a feeling that Mullen would be signing with Clemson, but the fact he has a visit set up to Baton Rogue next week makes me a little weary.  Nonetheless, I’m going to slightly raise the percentage here.
(1/22) Mullen is heading to LSU today for his last OV.
(1/24) Despite his OV this weekend, this is looking more like an FSU/Clemson battle as of now.  LSU has two corners committed and are the favorites to land the nation’s second ranked corner as well.  Mullen will take the last weekend off and is planning to announce his NSD commitment on ESPNU.
(1/27) The sentiment that this is a Clemson/FSU battle seems to be true.  The Noles are the favorite, but are in good standing with another 4-star corner Carlos Becker and that is a small benefit in Clemson’s favor.  The staff still has their in-home visit to use as well.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Romeo Finley
Safety, 6-1 198lbs (Niceville, FL)
Perhaps the newest name to emerge on the board for Clemson is Finley.  The 4-star safety has a busy couple weeks ahead with visits to Georgia Tech (January 15th), Clemson (January 22nd), and Miami (January 29th) on his slate.  With the new regime in place at Miami, they will try to make a run and are the likely favorites at this point.  However, Finley doesn’t have to look far to see the pipeline of success from Florida to Clemson that includes defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander who just bolted for the NFL.  The staff will have plenty to sell Finley when he steps on campus, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough this late in the process.
(1/16) Finley is on campus at Georgia Tech for his official visit. Given Clemson’s standing with Thomas and now Simmons at safety I’m going to lower my percentages.
(1/18) The Georgia Tech sites are now reporting that Finley has identified the Yellow Jackets as his clear cut leader following his trip to Atlanta over the weekend.  Clemson is set to host him this weekend before he heads to Miami, who I deem as the largest threat, on the last weekend before NSD.  Just a personal note, I don’t believe Finley is at the top of Clemson’s safety board.
(1/19) Defensive backs coach Mike Reed conducted an in-home visit with Finley on Monday night prior to his OV this coming weekend.
(1/21) Finley hosted Miami coaches including new HC Mark Richt for an in home visit on Wednesday evening.  He’s still planning to take an OV to Coral Gables following his Clemson trip this coming weekend.
(1/24) Finley’s visit to Clemson this weekend was an eye opener.  Both Finley and Simpson got to experience Clemson’s 2016 awards banquet that was sure to impress.  The Florida native also got his first taste of snow, and it just happened to be inside of Death Valley where Dabo Swinney was seen sledding down The Hill.  Defensive backs coach Mike Reed also made sure Finley was well aware of the potential for early playing time due to the mass exodus at safety. He’ll head down to Miami for his final visit before rendering a decision on NSD. I’m going to raise the percentages here.
(1/28) Dabo Swinney and Mike Reed dropped by Niceville High today to see Finley. Georgia Tech coaches came by as well.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 35%

Michail Carter
Defensive Tackle, 6-4 300lbs (Jackson, GA)
This is definitely one of the more interesting names on the board considering the depth Clemson has accumulated at the defensive tackle spot.  Carter appears to have legitimate interest in the Tigers, and the interest seems to have been reciprocated back from the staff.  The 4-star prospect also has a busy schedule upcoming starting with a visit to Clemson (January 15th) before seeing instate rivals Georgia Tech (January 22nd) and Georgia (January 29th).  The Bulldogs new HC Kirby Smart holds the trump card here if he decides Carter is a take in their class.  Just based on numbers alone I would be surprised if Clemson decided to take another DT, but maybe the staff has plans to move some guys around.  This will be a recruit to keep a close eye on.
(1/16) Carter is on campus at Clemson for his official visit. He attended the basketball game earlier today and Austin Bryant is his host.
(1/18) Fresh off the visit to Clemson there is really no news to report.  Carter isn’t one to talk with reporters and he’s kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part.  The instate schools are set to hosts him over the next two weekends, and I believe that the Bulldogs still hold the cards here depending on how they feel Carter compares with some of their other targets.  There could also be a visit in the works to Alabama, but that has yet to be scheduled as of this moment.
(1/22) Continuing to hear and read positive things surrounding Carter to Clemson. I’m a little surprised based on the depth at DT, but there’s no way you turn down a Top 100 player out of a pipeline state. Percentages up.
(1/24) Carter visited Georgia Tech this weekend. I don’t foresee them being a factor in his recruitment.
(1/28) Derrick Brown, a 5-star DT out of Georgia, announced a top 3 of Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee.  This is important because most had Brown as a lock to UGA, meaning that Carter was on the fence as a take.  Well now that it appears Brown is out of the picture that would lead one to believe UGA is the perceived front runner for Carter now. Percentages down.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 35%

Isaiah Simmons
Safety, 6-3 212lbs (Olathe, KS)
Brent Venables paid a visit back to his old stomping grounds out in Kansas to see Simmons, a rangy 6’3 212lb safety.  He currently has visits set up to Mizzou (1/15), Nebraska (1/22), and Louisville (1/30).  Simmons certainly fits the mold of the bigger prototypes that Clemson has identified as it’s preference at the safety position over the last few cycles.  This is another example of Clemson’s newfound national reputation allowing them to expand their recruiting reach to areas that have been irrelevant for the staff.  Keep an eye out for news in regard to a potential visit.
(1/15) Venables extended an offer and appears to have gotten an official visit in place for January 29th. We’ll see if that impacts his Louisville visit or not.
(1/16) Simmons received an offer from Michigan tonight.  No word on whether or not he made it to Mizzou for his scheduled visit.
(1/18) Simmons did in fact make the scheduled visit to Missouri. And there is news to report on the potential visit to Clemson.  The scheduled trip for the 29th did bump Louisville out of their visit slot, which tells you that the Tigers are under serious consideration.  The rumblings on this front seem to be carrying some weight and Clemson is riding the wave of momentum from a 14 win season here.  Getting him on campus is key, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Percentage is going up.
(1/20) After offering last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit with Simmons on Monday evening.  He would like to visit Ann Arbor, but time and scheduling are an issue.  Nebraska, where Simmons is visiting this weekend, is the biggest threat as of now.
(1/22) Simmons is headed to Lincoln today for his OV.  Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat to the Tigers.
(1/25) Swinney and Venables conducted an in home visit Sunday evening. Things are trending up for the Tigers before his visit this weekend. Percentage up.
(1/26) Michigan sites are reporting that Simmons will OV in Ann Arbor on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Clemson this weekend. I’m still of the impression that Nebraska is the biggest threat here, and after talking with Clemson commit Xavier Kelly I feel even better about Simmons to Clemson.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 55%

K’Von Wallace
Defensive back, 6-1 180lbs (Highland Springs, Virginia)
Clemson extended an offer to the Cincinnati commit on Sunday evening.  Wallace is a solid athlete that starred on both sides of the ball at the high school level. Clemson is recruiting him as a defensive back, most likely at corner. Over the last two weeks he’s added offers from Maryland, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Arizona. With all these big offers coming so late it’s tough to know the impact it holds, but the fact one is coming from of the hottest programs in the country could make thing interesting. Keep an eye out to see if a visit it set up for the final weekend before NSD.
(1/26) News surfaced earlier today that Wallace would OV to Clemson tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.  That was before he added two more big time offers from Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes are his favorite school and could potentially be a gamechanger here.  Assuming he makes that scheduled OV, percentages up.
(1/27) Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed paid Wallace an in-home visit today. He’s also supposed to visit Clemson today and tomorrow, but I’m not sure when that visit will begin if he just had an in-home this AM. Clemson’s board at corner also seems to be dwindling down meaning that Wallace will become more of a priority.
(1/28) I can confirm that Wallace made it into town yesterday evening and spent time with defensive players Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, and Clelin Ferrell.
(1/28) Wallace just tweeted out that he will take a visit to Ohio State this weekend, which knocks Pitt from consideration.  The Buckeyes interest appears legit and they will be tough to beat out.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 30%

Daniel Thomas
Safety, 6-0 190lbs (Montgomery, AL)
Another new name on the board at defensive back is a fast rising prospect out of Alabama.  Thomas has blown up rather quickly, garnering offers from Clemson, Louisville, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina since the start of December.  Clemson coaches are expected to pay Thomas a visit at his home before weeks end, and there’s reason to believe the Tigers are in very good standing here.  Thomas is currently planning to visit South Carolina (January 15th), Maryland (January 22nd), and Clemson (January 29th).  This recruitment draws many parallels to that of TJ Green, who was an unknown late addition out of Alabama in the 2013 class.  Green declared early for the NFL Draft earlier this week.  Pretty nice recruiting pitch for the Clemson staff to have in their back pocket.
(1/15) Defensive Backs coach Mike Reed made an in-home visit last night
(1/16) Thomas is on campus at South Carolina for his official visit.
(1/18) As expected, the Gamecocks rolled out the garnet carpet this weekend for their visitors and Thomas came away impressed.  The Gamecocks certainly helped their case, but given the success of another underrated Alabama prospect that Clemson has helped reach the NFL I believe the Tigers have the inside track.  It’s also important to note that Thomas hasn’t been on many visits to Power-5 schools so Columbia was likely an eye opener for him.  He’ll head to Maryland this coming weekend, but I don’t foresee them being a factor down the stretch.
(1/21) UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik paid Thomas a visit earlier this week and is attempting to lure him to Chapel Hill in place of Maryland this weekend.
(1/22) Thomas told me last night the Maryland visit is off. UNC & Louisville are possible replacements. After his OV to Columbia, the Gamecocks are the team to beat.  But the Tigers will have there chance to match or exceed their visit right before NSD. I’m lowering the percentages down from 60%.
(1/24) Thomas tweeted out Sunday night that he is in Chapel Hill for a surprise visit. No word whether this is an official or unofficial, but I’d assume it will be a shortened OV. Seems that Thomas is a little overwhelmed with all the new attention he’s gotten this late in the cycle, and he’s truly wide open right now.  This may be one of those cases that the last visit seals the deal. Clemson gets the last visit.
(1/26) Thomas is no longer visiting Clemson this weekend, and is instead headed to Auburn.  As I hinted above, this late attention has been overwhelming for him.  He’s now cancelled two OVs at the last second. And with this news he’s off the board.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Arkeem Byrd
Defensive Back, 6-1 190lbs (Savannah, GA)
This is a player that’s seen his stock rise rather quickly over the last few weeks. Both Georgia Tech and Tennessee offered in December before the Tigers reached out shortly after Christmas.  Missouri also offered earlier this week to join the race. Clemson hasn’t formally extended an offer to Byrd, but he’s told me he expects the coaches to stop in sometime after the conclusion of the dead period.  Byrd is a dynamic athlete who made his name as a running back at the high school level.  Clemson is strictly evaluating him as a defensive back, most likely safety.  Right now the Volunteers and Yellow Jackets hold the lead with their formal offers, but Clemson could certainly shake things up if they decide to move in with one of their own.
(1/16) Byrd is on campus at Wake Forest for his OV.
(1/22) The Clemson staff has not been in touch lately. Tells you all you need to know.
(1/26) Clemson is looking in a different direction here.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Lavert Hill
Cornerback, 5-10 172lbs (Detroit, MI)
Clemson extended a late offer last week in hopes of drawing interest as well as expanding their board at defensive back.  Hill is a nationally coveted recruit and was committed to Penn State up until November 29th.  Since his decommitment he has been thought to favor in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State.  Hill used two of his officials in December when he ventured to Tennessee and Michigan in consecutive weeks.  For his remaining two officials he’s penciled in Clemson (January 20th) and Michigan State (January 22nd).  Hill had planned to visit Southern Cal, but those plans were axed yesterday.  This is a longshot for Clemson given the late offer and proximity to home, but just the fact he’s visiting shows you the national relevance this program has garnered.
(1/16) In place of his Southern Cal visit, Hill has traveled to Penn State for an OV. This is a very long shot at this point.
(1/22) Hill is headed to East Lansing this weekend. IMO, they are the favorites to land Hill at this point in time.
(1/27) Hill announced via twitter that he will forgo this weekends visit to Clemson and is set to decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. No surprise here, and likely allows coaching staff to focus on the plethora of other recruits that will be in town.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 0%

Other Notes
Wide receiver Jayson Hopper and offensive lineman Cade Stewart are also under consideration for preferred walk-on spots.  Both prospects are Palmetto State natives and both played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
(1/15) Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks paid 4-star corner Marquez Callaway a visit yesterday.  He currently has three officials set up for the next three weekends to Tenn, MSU, and Ole Miss. Clemson and Ohio State are trying to get a foot in the door for the remaining visit.  If a visit comes to fruition he will officially be added to the board. .
(1/15) Malek Young commits to Miami. Removed from board.
(1/21) Callway committed to Tennessee as a WR(1/21) Matthew Ryan, an OL out of New Orleans, is expected in for an official visit this weekend.  Ryan does not have an official offer as he will be brought in as a preferred walk-on.  In case you’re wondering he is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and nephew to Bill HC Rex Ryan, who’s son Seth is a walk-on WR for the Tigers.
(1/24) Ryan has accepted the walk-on spot and will join the Tigers next Fall.
(1/25) An update to the Cade Stewart situation listed above: He was in town for a visit over the weekend and has reportedly been offered as a greyshirt.  Stewart committed to Georgia Southern last week, but the hometown Tigers will be tough to turn down.

Friday Night Lights is a Bad Look for ACC Football

Before branding me as an old man screaming “Get off my lawn!”, hear me out.  Clemson playing Boston College on a Friday night doesn’t effect me personally in the least.  I don’t have to change travel plans, my kid doesn’t play high school football, I don’t go to bars, I’m not going to miss work or school or any of the other myriad of things that people do on a Friday night.

On the contrary, it actually benefits me. A Friday night game enables me to get game related work done, either late that evening, or, more likely, early Saturday before the real conferences take the field at noon eastern.

So, this is not personal.  It’s practical and its common sense.  If you want to be a major conference in football, act like a major conference in football.

During my brief Twitter rant on Tuesday afternoon, my buddy Brandon Rink at orangeandwhite.com pointed out that Michigan State, Baylor, Stanford and Southern Cal all played on Friday nights last season.  Along with the AAC, Mountain West, BYU and other “Group of 5” teams.

Brandon was correct of course, but the Michigan State and Baylor Friday games were season openers (and non-conference), which makes it slightly different in my mind.  Stanford and Southern Cal play in a conference that routinely struggles to get media attention outside of the Pacific Standard time zone and generally plays on a channel that few can find off the top of their head, so it makes sense that they would try whatever they could to attract attention and play a stand-alone game.

Not only is Clemson playing a Friday night game, but Florida State is playing a Friday night home game, which begs the question how long till Clemson is forced to play a Friday night home game? If ESPN and the ACC can force Florida State to play a home game on Friday, they can force Clemson to play a Friday night home game.





Teams of Clemson and Florida State’s stature typically have 7 home games a year.  Seven days to bring in recruits (who typically play games on Friday night, by the way), seven times for fans to tailgate and congregate and enjoy the atmosphere of college football on campus.  Florida State now has 6.  Clemson’s time is coming.

The bigger issue to me, bigger than losing a Saturday game, hosting recruits and perhaps some attendance, is the message it sends to the rest of college football world. Bush League, Minor League, irrelevant, a joke. Take your choice or come up with one of your own.

One Friday ACC game in 2015 turns into 5 this year.  Watch out Swoffy, in a few years the entire ACC schedule might be played on Thursday and Friday, leaving Saturday clear for the properties that ESPN really cares about.

Make no mistake, ESPN owns the ACC.  That didn’t happen with the release of the 2016 schedule, but we sure were reminded of it Tuesday.  In a big way.  ESPN wanted college football on Friday.  ESPN wanted Clemson and Florida State on Friday. ESPN got what they wanted.

Spare me the “nobody would watch it on Saturday” line.  In 2015 Clemson vs. Boston College was good enough for prime time on Saturday, but 2016 Clemson vs. Boston College is relegated to a Friday night “so more people will watch”.

Spare me the “more people will watch it” spiel.  Sure, a few people will trip over the game while flipping through the channels and tune in.  But nobody, outside of Clemson and Boston College fans, in the key demographic for college football viewership (young males) are going to change their Friday night plans to watch the Tigers and Eagles.  Ludicrous.  “Sorry babe, we can’t go out tonight, Clemson and Boston College are on!” Stupid.  “No son, can’t take you to the father/son movie we talked about tonight, the Tigers and Eagles are about to duel!” Ridiculous.

An ACC team won a national championship after the 2013 season and another played for one two weeks ago.  The ACC has had a Heisman Trophy winner, an Outland Trophy winner, oodles of high draft picks and star players all over the field in the last 3 seasons.

And the ACC is treated like the WAC by ESPN.





Maybe it’s part of the contract, maybe it’s Swofford’s master marketing plan.  Either way it’s a horrible look for the conference.

Is Alabama playing on Friday?  That would be a sure way to increase viewership.  Clemson’s not at Alabama’s level you say? How about Vanderbilt or Kentucky, are they playing on Friday?  You get my point.

ESPN and Swofford have decided the two high profile teams should each lose being part of a Saturday of non-stop college football games, highlights and replays of about 16 hours and relegate them to being an afterthought barely mentioned after the Friday news cycle. Brilliant.

Playing on Friday night damages the conference’s reputation and the Clemson and Florida State brands.  The two institutions should be outraged.

Swofford talks a big game about the ACC being a power conference and deserving of being viewed as such, but his actions speak much louder than his words.

His actions scream the ACC is a sideshow not worthy of better time slots – or any time slot on Saturday – you know, the day that the big boys of college football typically play.

Swofford has two marquee teams, a recent national champion with a national brand and another that spent the last 4 months on the cover of Sports Illustrated, leading off SportsCenter and has become perhaps the fastest growing brand in college football.

Their reward? Each gets to play on a Friday night with the dregs of college football.

 

Early 2016 Win Probabilities for Every Clemson Game

The probabilities below are based on an algorithm developed over the last 5 college football seasons and 3,580 games.

The algorithm takes into account the typical metrics associated with football, plus some that are lesser recognized but correlate highly to determining winners and losers of college football games.

It’s important to understand that giving a probability is different than predicting a winner/loser.  Specifically, the probability below estimates the metrics that will result in a game and then compares those results to the results of the 3,580 games and gives a probability of Clemson winning the game assuming the actual metrics meet the expected metrics.

For example, for the Auburn game teams with Clemson’s expected metrics won 59.6% of the time over those 3,580 games.

Past performance does not necessarily predict future performance.

Early 2016 WP Clemson

The algorithm results for the 2015 season were encouraging. Teams that were given a 70.0% or higher probability of winning won 86.2% of the time over the season, including 22-0 when a team was given a 90% or higher probability of winning.

The Tigers have 5 games in the 50-60% range, which could be considered the most dangerous level (relative to all probabilities over 50%).  Over 130 games in 2015, teams in this range won 56.2% of the time.

The algorithm may be tweaked prior to the 2016 season resulting in a different win probability for the Auburn game and the win probability for all other games will change based on results of 2016 games as the season progresses.

UPDATED: Visitor List for January 30th Jr. Day

UPDATE: Elite prospects James Robinson, Devon Hunter, Drew Singleton, and Justin Foster added.

Expect this list to grow as the week goes on and more info is released. Also, this is what becoming a national brand can do for your program…

QB-Hunter Johnson (Clemson commit)
5-star, 6’3 200lbs (Brownsburg, IN)

QB-Chase Brice (Clemson commit)
4-star, 6-3 205lbs (Loganville, GA)

OL-Noah DeHond (Clemson commit)
4-star, 6-7 315lbs (Highstown, NJ)

LB/S-Baylon Spector (Clemson commit)
3-star, 6-2 190lbs (Calhoun, GA)

DE-Zach Carter
4-star, 6-5 240lbs (Tampa, FL)

DT-Corey Bolds
4-star, 6-3 260lbs (Paramus, NJ)

C-Cesar Ruiz
4-star, 6-3 290lbs (Bradenton, FL)

CB-LeAnthony Williams Jr.
4-star, 6-0 170lbs (Roswell, GA)

S-Xavier McKinney (Alabama commit)
4-star, 6-1 170lbs (Roswell, GA)

OL-Matt Bockhorst
4-star, 6-4 290lbs (Cincinnati, OH)

WR-Amari Rodgers
4-star, 5-10 195lbs (Knoxville, TN)

WR-Tee Higgins (Tennessee commit)
4-star, 6-5 190lbs (Oak Ridge, TN)

CB-Jamyest Williams
4-star, 5-9 170lbs (Lawrenceville, GA)

DE-Malik Herring
4-star, 6-3 255lbs (Forsyth, GA)

DE-Jordan Williams
3-star, 6-5 245lbs (Virginia Beach, VA)

LB-Drew Singleton
4-star, 6-2 215lbs (Paramus, NJ)

S-Devon Hunter 
4-star, 6-3 210lbs (Chesapeake, VA)

LB-Justin Foster
4-star, 6-3 230lbs (Shelby, NC)

WR-James Robinson
5-star, 6-2 190lbs (Lakeland, FL)

Visit our Recruiting Board to get the latest updates! 

Respect for Clemson was hard earned, but could easily be lost

The morning after Clemson’s loss to Alabama I woke to something I hadn’t felt in a long time: Clemson football had earned the respect of the College Football World. Except for college football’s lunatic fringe, the Tigers were almost universally praised for their performance in Phoenix.

As I tweeted at the time, it’s incredibly ironic that Clemson earned respect for a game they ultimately lost and not for the 14 in a row they won and that speaks volumes on how different college football teams are viewed nationally.

Post CG Tweet

The Tigers will begin the 2016 season at or near the top of the rankings with the requisite publicity accompanying the lofty ranking. Players will be named to preseason All-Conference, All-American and all of 73 “watch lists”.

There are teams across college football that get the benefit of the doubt. Teams like Stanford, who lost twice as 10 point favorites in 2015, yet somehow remained in discussion for the college football playoff up to the end. Or Oklahoma, Clemson’s trash-talking playoff opponent, that lost to a 5-7 Texas team as a 16 point favorite, beat every team with a backup quarterback and played no conference championship game, yet was awarded a playoff spot, which in retrospect looks suspect at best.

Clemson won’t get those advantages despite their 2015 season and the post championship game respect bestowed upon them. One loss likely dooms the 2016 Tigers playoff hopes.

If that loss comes in the opener at Auburn the respect that was so hard earned slowly and incrementally over the last 4 years will disappear into thin air. The masses will utter worn out catchphrases so as to not tax their brains with analysis and turn their attention to the next big thing or, more likely, to the Stanfords and Oklahomas that continuously underperform and are rewarded handsomely for doing so.




College football is a “what have you done for me lately” proposition, at least for most teams. There are teams that can lose repeatedly as favorites, deflect those losses like Teflon and “impress” with 50 point wins over undermanned teams and end up in the playoff because of their name, coach or conference.

Clemson isn’t one of them.

NSD Primer: January 25th Update

NOTE: Story was originally published on January 13th, but there have been weekly updates added as shown by the dates.

Fresh off a welcomed extension to their season, the Clemson coaching staff will hit the ground running with just 3 weeks remaining until National Signing Day (February 3rd).  The 2016 recruiting class currently stands firm with 15 pledges, including 6 commitments that are already on campus as early enrollees.  Given the recent surge of underclassmen bolting for the draft and potential transfers I’d expect Clemson to try and add between 3-4 more prospects before calling it a day.  In this article we’ll take a look at the current remaining targets on Clemson’s board, and I’ll offer some percentages that are based solely on the information that I’m armed with as of today.  These percentages will carry very little weight as the recruiting landscape changes over the next few weeks. You can also probably expect a new name or two to pop up given the mass exodus of players to the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rashan Gary
Defensive Tackle, 6-3 293lbs (Parmus, NJ)
Crazy to think that Clemson could be in position to land the nation’s top two defensive tackles, but I’m here to tell you Clemson is squarely in the conversation.  Michigan has been the defaulted front-runner by recruiting services nation wide, and Ole Miss is thought to be near the top of his list as well.  Gary has already taken official visits to Michigan, Auburn, and Ole Miss meaning that he has two left. Southern Cal is slated to host him on January 15th and he’s hinted at Clemson receiving his final visit either on January 22nd or 29th.   If the Tigers are able to get him on campus then all bets are off.  Gary’s mother fell in love with the Clemson atmosphere when the two visited last Spring.  Another big advantage for Clemson is the fact that Gary’s uncle lives right down the road in Anderson.  This will be one to keep a very close eye on.
(1/16) Gary is on campus at Southern Cal for his OV
(1/18) The visit to Southern Cal went about as good as it could have, but they aren’t going to be his destination. The aforementioned leader Michigan is slated to host him this weekend on an unofficial visit.  At this point, I’d be surprised if they didn’t seal the deal even further.  Now that final visit that Clemson is vying for seems 50/50 at best leading me to lower the percentages here.
(1/20) Reports have surfaced that Clemson coaches conducted an in-home visit with Gary on Tuesday night.  If the reports are true, that means the staff gave their final sales pitch to attempt to lure the nation’s #1 prospect in for an OV on the last weekend before NSD.  Clemson is fighting Alabama for that final visit, but Gary is headed to his perceived front runner Michigan this weekend for an extended unofficial.  There’s no doubt that Harbaugh will pull out all the stops in an attempt to keep Gary from making that final visit, which is the only thing that could prevent him from signing with the Wolverines.
(1/22) All signs are pointing to Gary taking an OV to Clemson over Alabama for the final weekend. Obviously that’s good news for Tiger fans if he follows through with that visit.
(1/24) Gary will not depart from Ann Arbor until Monday due to snowy conditions that prevented travel on Sunday. I maintain the belief that Gary will follow through with his visit to Clemson next weekend, but a decision in regards to that visit has not been made public at this time.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 10%

John Simpson
Offensive Line, 6-4 290lbs (North Charleston, SC)
Without a doubt the top remaining target on the board, Simpson has played his recruitment close to the vest since hinting at Clemson as his leader back in the Summer. The Palmetto state native has been a frequent visitor to Clemson’s campus, but still has an official visit on the docket for January 23rd.  He also has two more officials set up to Florida (January 16th) and Alabama (January 30th).  It’ll be worth watching to see if Simpson decides to give the new staff at South Carolina a look, which could happen considering a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.  What this all boils down to is that Clemson has done all they can do to in their recruitment of Simpson and they just have to simply stay the course.
(1/16) Simpson is on campus at Florida for his OV
(1/18) The trip to Gainesville definitely helped the Gators cause, but I’m still of the belief that LSU is Clemson’s biggest contender as of now. I’ve stated above how Clemson has pretty much done all they can do here, but they will get at least one more shot to pitch Simpson this weekend when he makes his long anticipated official to the Upstate.  South Carolina is still lobbying for a visit either midweek or in place of Alabama, but that has not formalized yet.
(1/24) Simpson wrapped up his Clemson visit Sunday afternoon.  The visit went about as well as it could, and this situation remains status quo.  Be patient.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 80%

Trayvon Mullen
Cornerback, 6-1 170lbs (Pompano Beach, FL)
An expected visitor this weekend, Mullen had once proclaimed Clemson as his dream school.  That interest hasn’t seemed to carry over into his recruiting process as FSU and LSU have sat atop his list for quite some time.  Over the last couple months, Clemson has rejoined the party and is set to roll the “Orange carpet” out this weekend for the rangy corner.  Mullen didn’t exactly shine in the Army All-American game, but he possesses the tools to blossom into an outstanding corner with a year or two in the weight room. The Tigers will be able to sell immediate playing time and NFL potential given the production at corner over the last decade.
(1/16) Mullen is on campus at Clemson for his OV. He attended the basketball game earlier this afternoon.
(1/18) After talking with several current Clemson commits who were around Mullen during his visit I think it’s safe to say the staff certainly made an impression.  Mullen was hosted by Ray Ray McCloud and Rahshaun Smith, both prize recruits out of Florida themselves.  If today were signing day I have a feeling that Mullen would be signing with Clemson, but the fact he has a visit set up to Baton Rogue next week makes me a little weary.  Nonetheless, I’m going to slightly raise the percentage here.
(1/22) Mullen is heading to LSU today for his last OV.
(1/24) Despite his OV this weekend, this is looking more like an FSU/Clemson battle as of now.  LSU has two corners committed and are the favorites to land the nation’s second ranked corner as well.  Mullen will take the last weekend off and is planning to announce his NSD commitment on ESPNU.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 40%

Lavert Hill
Cornerback, 5-10 172lbs (Detroit, MI)
Clemson extended a late offer last week in hopes of drawing interest as well as expanding their board at defensive back.  Hill is a nationally coveted recruit and was committed to Penn State up until November 29th.  Since his decommitment he has been thought to favor in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State.  Hill used two of his officials in December when he ventured to Tennessee and Michigan in consecutive weeks.  For his remaining two officials he’s penciled in Clemson (January 20th) and Michigan State (January 22nd).  Hill had planned to visit Southern Cal, but those plans were axed yesterday.  This is a longshot for Clemson given the late offer and proximity to home, but just the fact he’s visiting shows you the national relevance this program has garnered.
(1/16) In place of his Southern Cal visit, Hill has traveled to Penn State for an OV. This is a very long shot at this point.
(1/22) Hill is headed to East Lansing this weekend. IMO, they are the favorites to land Hill at this point in time.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 5%

Arkeem Byrd
Defensive Back, 6-1 190lbs (Savannah, GA)
This is a player that’s seen his stock rise rather quickly over the last few weeks. Both Georgia Tech and Tennessee offered in December before the Tigers reached out shortly after Christmas.  Missouri also offered earlier this week to join the race. Clemson hasn’t formally extended an offer to Byrd, but he’s told me he expects the coaches to stop in sometime after the conclusion of the dead period.  Byrd is a dynamic athlete who made his name as a running back at the high school level.  Clemson is strictly evaluating him as a defensive back, most likely safety.  Right now the Volunteers and Yellow Jackets hold the lead with their formal offers, but Clemson could certainly shake things up if they decide to move in with one of their own.
(1/16) Byrd is on campus at Wake Forest for his OV.
(1/22) The Clemson staff has not been in touch lately. Tells you all you need to know.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 5%

Romeo Finley
Safety, 6-1 198lbs (Niceville, FL)
Perhaps the newest name to emerge on the board for Clemson is Finley.  The 4-star safety has a busy couple weeks ahead with visits to Georgia Tech (January 15th), Clemson (January 22nd), and Miami (January 29th) on his slate.  With the new regime in place at Miami, they will try to make a run and are the likely favorites at this point.  However, Finley doesn’t have to look far to see the pipeline of success from Florida to Clemson that includes defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander who just bolted for the NFL.  The staff will have plenty to sell Finley when he steps on campus, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough this late in the process.
(1/16) Finley is on campus at Georgia Tech for his official visit. Given Clemson’s standing with Thomas and now Simmons at safety I’m going to lower my percentages.
(1/18) The Georgia Tech sites are now reporting that Finley has identified the Yellow Jackets as his clear cut leader following his trip to Atlanta over the weekend.  Clemson is set to host him this weekend before he heads to Miami, who I deem as the largest threat, on the last weekend before NSD.  Just a personal note, I don’t believe Finley is at the top of Clemson’s safety board.
(1/19) Defensive backs coach Mike Reed conducted an in-home visit with Finley on Monday night prior to his OV this coming weekend.
(1/21) Finley hosted Miami coaches including new HC Mark Richt for an in home visit on Wednesday evening.  He’s still planning to take an OV to Coral Gables following his Clemson trip this coming weekend.
(1/24) Finley’s visit to Clemson this weekend was an eye opener.  Both Finley and Simpson got to experience Clemson’s 2016 awards banquet that was sure to impress.  The Florida native also got his first taste of snow, and it just happened to be inside of Death Valley where Dabo Swinney was seen sledding down The Hill.  Defensive backs coach Mike Reed also made sure Finley was well aware of the potential for early playing time due to the mass exodus at safety. He’ll head down to Miami for his final visit before rendering a decision on NSD. I’m going to raise the percentages here.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 35%

Michail Carter
Defensive Tackle, 6-4 300lbs (Jackson, GA)
This is definitely one of the more interesting names on the board considering the depth Clemson has accumulated at the defensive tackle spot.  Carter appears to have legitimate interest in the Tigers, and the interest seems to have been reciprocated back from the staff.  The 4-star prospect also has a busy schedule upcoming starting with a visit to Clemson (January 15th) before seeing instate rivals Georgia Tech (January 22nd) and Georgia (January 29th).  The Bulldogs new HC Kirby Smart holds the trump card here if he decides Carter is a take in their class.  Just based on numbers alone I would be surprised if Clemson decided to take another DT, but maybe the staff has plans to move some guys around.  This will be a recruit to keep a close eye on.
(1/16) Carter is on campus at Clemson for his official visit. He attended the basketball game earlier today and Austin Bryant is his host.
(1/18) Fresh off the visit to Clemson there is really no news to report.  Carter isn’t one to talk with reporters and he’s kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part.  The instate schools are set to hosts him over the next two weekends, and I believe that the Bulldogs still hold the cards here depending on how they feel Carter compares with some of their other targets.  There could also be a visit in the works to Alabama, but that has yet to be scheduled as of this moment.
(1/22) Continuing to hear and read positive things surrounding Carter to Clemson. I’m a little surprised based on the depth at DT, but there’s no way you turn down a Top 100 player out of a pipeline state. Percentages up.
(1/24) Carter visited Georgia Tech this weekend. I don’t foresee them being a factor in his recruitment.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 45%

Daniel Thomas
Safety, 6-0 190lbs (Montgomery, AL)
Another new name on the board at defensive back is a fast rising prospect out of Alabama.  Thomas has blown up rather quickly, garnering offers from Clemson, Louisville, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina since the start of December.  Clemson coaches are expected to pay Thomas a visit at his home before weeks end, and there’s reason to believe the Tigers are in very good standing here.  Thomas is currently planning to visit South Carolina (January 15th), Maryland (January 22nd), and Clemson (January 29th).  This recruitment draws many parallels to that of TJ Green, who was an unknown late addition out of Alabama in the 2013 class.  Green declared early for the NFL Draft earlier this week.  Pretty nice recruiting pitch for the Clemson staff to have in their back pocket.
(1/15) Defensive Backs coach Mike Reed made an in-home visit last night
(1/16) Thomas is on campus at South Carolina for his official visit.
(1/18) As expected, the Gamecocks rolled out the garnet carpet this weekend for their visitors and Thomas came away impressed.  The Gamecocks certainly helped their case, but given the success of another underrated Alabama prospect that Clemson has helped reach the NFL I believe the Tigers have the inside track.  It’s also important to note that Thomas hasn’t been on many visits to Power-5 schools so Columbia was likely an eye opener for him.  He’ll head to Maryland this coming weekend, but I don’t foresee them being a factor down the stretch.
(1/21) UNC defensive coordinator Gene Chizik paid Thomas a visit earlier this week and is attempting to lure him to Chapel Hill in place of Maryland this weekend.
(1/22) Thomas told me last night the Maryland visit is off. UNC & Louisville are possible replacements. After his OV to Columbia, the Gamecocks are the team to beat.  But the Tigers will have there chance to match or exceed their visit right before NSD. I’m lowering the percentages down from 60%.
(1/24) Thomas tweeted out Sunday night that he is in Chapel Hill for a surprise visit. No word whether this is an official or unofficial, but I’d assume it will be a shortened OV. Seems that Thomas is a little overwhelmed with all the new attention he’s gotten this late in the cycle, and he’s truly wide open right now.  This may be one of those cases that the last visit seals the deal. Clemson gets the last visit.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 50%

Isaiah Simmons
Safety, 6-3 212lbs (Olathe, KS)
Brent Venables paid a visit back to his old stomping grounds out in Kansas to see Simmons, a rangy 6’3 212lb safety.  He currently has visits set up to Mizzou (1/15), Nebraska (1/22), and Louisville (1/30).  Simmons certainly fits the mold of the bigger prototypes that Clemson has identified as it’s preference at the safety position over the last few cycles.  This is another example of Clemson’s newfound national reputation allowing them to expand their recruiting reach to areas that have been irrelevant for the staff.  Keep an eye out for news in regard to a potential visit.
(1/15) Venables extended an offer and appears to have gotten an official visit in place for January 29th. We’ll see if that impacts his Louisville visit or not.
(1/16) Simmons received an offer from Michigan tonight.  No word on whether or not he made it to Mizzou for his scheduled visit.
(1/18) Simmons did in fact make the scheduled visit to Missouri. And there is news to report on the potential visit to Clemson.  The scheduled trip for the 29th did bump Louisville out of their visit slot, which tells you that the Tigers are under serious consideration.  The rumblings on this front seem to be carrying some weight and Clemson is riding the wave of momentum from a 14 win season here.  Getting him on campus is key, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Percentage is going up.
(1/20) After offering last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made an in-home visit with Simmons on Monday evening.  He would like to visit Ann Arbor, but time and scheduling are an issue.  Nebraska, where Simmons is visiting this weekend, is the biggest threat as of now.
(1/22) Simmons is headed to Lincoln today for his OV.  Nebraska continues to be the biggest threat to the Tigers.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 35%

K’Von Wallace
Defensive back, 6-1 180lbs (Highland Springs, Virginia)
Clemson extended an offer to the Cincinnati commit on Sunday evening.  Wallace is a solid athlete that starred on both sides of the ball at the high school level. Clemson is recruiting him as a defensive back, most likely at corner. Over the last two weeks he’s added offers from Maryland, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Arizona. With all these big offers coming so late it’s tough to know the impact it holds, but the fact one is coming from of the hottest programs in the country could make things quite interesting. Keep an eye out to see if a visit is set up for the final weekend before NSD.

Chances he signs with Clemson: 5%

Other Notes
Wide receiver Jayson Hopper and offensive lineman Cade Stewart are also under consideration for preferred walk-on spots.  Both prospects are Palmetto State natives and both played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. (1/15) Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks paid 4-star corner Marquez Callaway a visit yesterday.  He currently has three officials set up for the next three weekends to Tenn, MSU, and Ole Miss. Clemson and Ohio State are trying to get a foot in the door for the remaining visit.  If a visit comes to fruition he will officially be added to the board. (1/15) Malek Young commits to Miami. Removed from board. (1/21) Callway committed to Tennessee as a WR. (1/21) Matthew Ryan, an OL out of New Orleans, is expected in for an official visit this weekend.  Ryan does not have an official offer as he will be brought in as a preferred walk-on.  In case you’re wondering he is the son of NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and nephew to Bill HC Rex Ryan, who’s son Seth is a walk-on WR for the Tigers. (1/23) Ryan accepts a walk-on offer to play at Clemson.

Make sure to checkout the SUR recruiting forum for more more recruiting information.