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.
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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.