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Sunday, October 20, 2013
Recruits react to Clemson-FSU

By Jared Shanker

Most coaching staffs hope for just one nationally televised night game a season to wow recruits. Saturday night was Clemson’s second such chance to sway recruits in a prime-time showdown, but the result was not as positive as it was in August.

The Tigers' staff received bad news even before the 51-14 drubbing by Florida State, as five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) canceled his official visit to Clemson for the game.

Instead, he could visit in November. Clemson, along with Alabama and Ohio State, is in McMillan’s top group, and this game was potentially the kind of atmosphere that could continue Clemson’s push toward the top for the nation’s top inside linebacker.

Dabo Swinney and his staff were still able to get some other important targets on the field, including a few from Georgia, where McMillan hails from. Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagle's Landing Christian) was at Clemson on Saturday, and the Tigers' staff let them know they need more “Georgia Peaches,” like No. 1 quarterback Deshaun Watson out of Gainesville (Ga.) High.

“It was really good,” said Williams, No. 168 in the ESPN 300. Williams also tweeted about Clemson’s recruiting pitch to Georgia prospects.

Georgia Representing heavy today @D_ocho @ShaunWatson4 @KD_Rogers43 @81Rich @Kwon_daTRUTH #CollegeGameDay

— Andrew Williams (@DrewWill_79) October 19, 2013

However well Clemson’s recruiting efforts went Saturday, it was outmatched by the visiting Seminoles. Already with the No. 2 class in the country, the Seminoles -- and specifically Jameis Winston -- had the eyes of some of the country’s highest-rated uncommitted prospects.

Five-star and No. 3 cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) traveled to Clemson, and while he enjoyed the atmosphere, Humphrey is likely down to the in-state Tide and Seminoles. He watched as FSU’s defense locked down Heisman hopeful Tajh Boyd and tweeted about the Noles’ cornerbacks.

" These corners from Florida state have shut down all these receivers " - Lee Corso

— Fruit PUNCH (@marlon_humphrey) October 20, 2013

No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) has traded texts with Winston recently and took to Twitter to praise the Noles’ performance Saturday.

Man LSU but Fla St balling

— Malachi Dupre (@MalachiDupre) October 20, 2013

The Noles need to land at least one more offensive lineman in 2014, and juco tackle Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau Community College) tweeted he texted Winston before the game. Three-star lineman Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) was also watching from home on his TV.

“Complete domination,” Ragnow said. “FSU’s O-line and D-line were amazing, and obviously Famous Jameis played out of his mind. They looked like they aren’t gonna be stopped all season. …

“Everyone was talking about how FSU was gonna struggle with Clemson’s pass rush. Well, that didn’t happen. Great pass protection and they just controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Although the Tigers’ loss was costly in the ACC title chase and national championship race, the impact on recruiting, for the most part, was still positive, despite not being at the same level as the Georgia game on Aug. 31.

Clemson picked up two commitments that night, including one from 2015 ESPN Junior 300 running back Van Smith. Several of the Tigers’ top 2015 targets were on campus for the Florida State loss and raved about their time.

“It was my second time going, but this time it was for a game, so it was great,” said Chason Virgil (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite), No. 76 in the Junior 300. “I got to witness the fans and the tailgating and everything. The setting and atmosphere was great. To have all those fans there watching was incredible.”

Virgil has a Tigers offer and said “Clemson’s a top school for me,” although he does not have a list of favorites yet.

Just like Clemson needs to win recruiting battles in bordering Georgia, it has to do the same to the north. Recruiting in North Carolina is pivotal for Swinney, and a handful of the state’s top recruits, regardless of class, visited. Receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) was in attendance, as were four Junior 300 members from North Carolina.

Swinney took those four juniors -- along with several others -- into a room and talked to the group of about 10 2015 recruits. He told them they are the can’t-miss players for Clemson's next cycle. Mark Fields (Cornelius, N.C./Hough) was one of them.

“I had a really great time,” said Fields. “I was able to speak with Coach Swinney and Coach [Mike] Reed for a little bit. The atmosphere was crazy.”

Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C./South Point) has Clemson as one of his top schools following that group meeting with Swinney.

“[Swinney said] just to keep playing the way we were and how we’re his tops that he wants,” Muse said. “… It’s always a great atmosphere at Clemson.”