NCF On The Trail: Clemson Tigers

Clemson will likely be inking a top-five-level 2015 class on Wednesday. And on Saturday, the Tigers added a key piece to their 2016 class in receiver Tavares Chase. Chase becomes the second ESPN Junior 300 commitment for Clemson, with quarterback and No. 98 overall Zerrick Cooper having committed in October.

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Although he is small in stature, ESPN 300 cornerback Mark Fields II is a tough, versatile defensive back who could make an immediate impact for the Clemson Tigers as a nickelback.


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Top 10 instant-impact recruits in 2015 

January, 14, 2015
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With signing day a few weeks away, early enrollees already on campus and the national championship game in the books, which teams are reloading with talent that can hit the field and make an immediate impact?

Here are 10 committed prospect who have the chance to contribute early and often in the 2015 season:


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Midyear additions:  Clemson

January, 13, 2015
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The Clemson Tigers have signed 15 recruits during the midyear period, according to the program's official web site:

Shadell Bell, WR
HT: 6-3 WT: 187
Positional Rank: #45 WR
Stars: 4

Kaleb Chalmers, CB
HT: 5-10 WT: 174
Positional Rank: #27 CB
Stars: 3

Kelly Bryant, QB-DT
HT: 6-4 WT: 204
Positional Rank: #11 QB-DT
Stars: 4

J.D. Davis, ILB
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Positional Rank: N/A (LQ)
Stars: 2

Judah Davis, DE
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Positional Rank: N/A (LQ)
Stars: 3

Jake Fruhmorgen, OT
HT: 6-5 WT: 275
Positional Rank: #7 OT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#93)

Zach Giella, OT
HT: 6-6 WT: 300
Positional Rank: #32 OT
Stars: 4

Noah Green, OT
HT: 6-5 WT: 283
Positional Rank: #13 OT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#182)

Albert Huggins, DT
HT: 6-3 WT: 279
Positional Rank: #20 DT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#168)

Mitch Hyatt, OT
HT: 6-6 WT: 274
Positional Rank: #2 OT
Stars: 5
ESPN 300 (#16)

Tucker Israel, QB-DT
HT: 6-0 WT: 189
Positional Rank: #20 QB-DT
Stars: 3

Sterling Johnson, DT
HT: 6-5 WT: 275
Positional Rank: #14 DT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#109)
Under Armour All-American

Chad Smith, OLB
HT: 6-4 WT: 213
Positional Rank: #19 OLB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (#287)

Van Smith, ATH
HT: 5-11 WT: 172
Positional Rank: #43 ATH
Stars: 4

Jalen Williams, ILB
HT: 5-11 WT: 206
Positional Rank: N/A (LQ)
Stars: 3
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Now that Randy Shannon has been officially announced as a part of the Florida coaching staff, the expectations for success in South Florida are high for the Gators.


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Only days after turning heads down in Orlando, Under Armour All-America defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has committed to the Clemson Tigers. Wilkins possesses a great motor and has the size and athleticism to be just as effective in the ACC as he was during the UA practices and game.


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UA practice notebook: Day 2 

December, 30, 2014
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Day 2 of the Under Armour All-America game practices was overcast and rainy, but the dreary weather didn't stop Team Armour and Team Highlight from having an exciting practice.

The two teams had a spirited first day of practice, however, two offensive linemen, Keenan Walker and Lester Cotton, suffered injuries and won't be able to play in the game on Friday. With the shortage of bodies along the offensive line, ESPN 300 offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis was asked to drive up from IMG Academy in Bradenton to fill in.


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Recruit and return: Clemson Tigers 

December, 29, 2014
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In most years, Clemson’s class would be head-and-shoulders above everybody else in the ACC. But this year, Florida State has been cleaning up on the recruiting trail and has a real shot at finishing No. 1. That shouldn’t take away from what Clemson has done with this group. The Tigers are currently in the top five, and if they can add a few more pieces before signing day, there’s a shot this class is the best ever signed by Dabo Swinney.


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Top sleeper commits: ACC 

December, 15, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent, it takes more than just those top-rated prospects and rosters are built with mainly prospects that enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key to a program’s success. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar, but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we come across many players who show promise and based of their upside for development or scheme fit are great additions.

Here are five unheralded commitments in the ACC worth keeping an eye on.

OG Wyatt Knopfke, Boston College
While Knopfke is an ESPN 300 player, he’s not as well-known as other interior linemen in the rankings. The big man out of Florida is a physical, strong player with the tools to be a good well-rounded player. And while listed at guard, he could be a candidate to develop at center as well. With an Eagles line that was loaded with seniors this season, head Coach Steve Addazio, an O-line coach himself, has a player who can develop into a key contributor in Knopfke.

DE LaSamuel Davis, Clemson
Four-star prospects like OT Zach Giella and athlete Van Smith are talented prospects and still rated highly, but they could be overlooked in a Tigers’ class that features double-digit ESPN 300 prospects. Another prospect in that group is Davis who notched over 100 tackles and 16 sacks this season. A rangy defender with wiry strength, he can use his hands well, flashes a good first-step and displays the tools to at least develop into a productive edge rusher. He needs to work to fill out his frame and be more consistent with his motor, but among this great collection of talent, Davis could emerge in time as a productive defensive contributor.


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Scout's Take: DT Albert Huggins to Clemson 

December, 12, 2014
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Clemson got back in the game Friday with a commitment from ESPN 300 defensive tackle Albert Huggins. Below, see what he means for Dabo's Swinney's impressive 2015 class:


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Are four-star DT Carlos Davis and his twin, three-star tackle Khalil Davis, still committed to Nebraska? Good luck figuring that out. Plus, handicapping the finalists in advance of Josh Sweat’s Wednesday decision.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 2, 2014
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The big visit weekend in the ACC is now in the rearview mirror with Florida State having hosted a very impressive collection of talent, and Virginia Tech playing host to the top target on the board.


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UA jersey tour: Ray-Ray McCloud III

November, 6, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- ESPN300 ATH Ray-Ray McCloud III, was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Thursday morning in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at the Sickles High School gymnasium in Tampa, Florida.

The 12th-ranked athlete and the 151st-ranked player overall in the ESPN 300 said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-America games in the country.

“I feel honored and blessed. Just growing up and watching this game and wishing and dreaming of playing in this game and now dreams are coming to reality,” McCloud said. "I feel blessed to be presented with my jersey today. It’s a dream come true."

McCloud has been committed to Clemson since July. The four-star athlete has never wavered in his pledged to the Tigers despite still being pursued by several other schools.

“With Clemson, I’m 100 percent. That’s where my heart is right now,” the four-star athlete said. "But other schools like Bama, Ole Miss, UCLA, Florida and USF are recruiting me hard but I’m solid to Clemson.

“I just like the character they build at the schools. The football players, coaches and even the rest of campus is a caring culture and everybody is all about Clemson. They put God first. Coach Dabo [Swinney], his character is just off the charts. He loves the kids."

Six questions with Ray-Ray McCloud III

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

McCloud: I’d say Vernon Hargreaves III. Him coming from Florida and representing the area like he has. He’s lived up to the hype and done his thing.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

McCloud: Derwin James. Just with his leadership and the way he carries a defense. He can pick up the defense and just change the whole defense.

If you could go one-on-one with any other player in this class who would it be?

McCloud: Probably Byron Cowart. They beat us my sophomore year, and I’d love to go against him again.

What's your earliest football memory?

McCloud: When I was playing little league football I had a 60-yard touchdown called back, then a 70-yard touchdown called back, then finally an 80-yard touchdown that counted. I was done after that.

If you could take on a professional athlete in their sport, who would it be and why?

McCloud: A.I. — Allen Iverson. He’s my favorite basketball player and I’d like to go against the best.

What kind of player can Clemson expect to get when you get on campus?

McCloud: A leader, ready to work. I’m mature and a guy that’s dedicated in everything he does.

About this time of year coaches scour junior college ranks for offensive line talent, and thathas helped Tyler Howell become one of hottest targets around. Plus, is Clemson in danger of losing ESPN 300 commitment Juwuan Briscoe?

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UA jersey tour: Garrett Williams

October, 28, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 300 tight end Garrett Williams was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Tuesday morning in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at The First Academy's gymnasium in Orlando, Florida.

The No. 2-ranked tight end in the ESPN 300 and the 113th-ranked player overall said he felt honored to be selected to one of the top All-American games in the country.

"It means a lot,” Williams said. "I remember going to these games when they were in the Citrus Bowl with my grandpa and just idolizing those players and wanting to play in the game someday and to be selected for it now is truly a dream come true. I can't wait to participate in January.”

Williams has been committed to Clemson since May and hasn't wavered at all. In fact, the four-star tight end will only take two visits before signing day and both will be to Clemson.

"I'm just going to take one official visit to Clemson around February sometime and then one unofficial visit for the South Carolina game," Williams said.

Williams credits the Clemson coaching staff, in particular head coach Dabo Swinney as a main reason he committed to the Tigers.

"I love the coaching staff at Clemson. It's a very unique coaching staff,” Williams said. "Coach Swinney and the rest of the coaches are incredible men as well as elite coaches. I think that was really special to me to be able to be coached by men that I can look up to off the field as well. Also, their scheme fits my skill set. I feel like I can be versatile in their offense."

Six questions with Garrett Williams

Who was the best player you ever saw play in the Under Armour game?

Williams: There's been so many great players that have played, but I'd have to say Jadeveon Clowney because he was such a specimen and he would just dominate the game. I remember watching Greg Reid play because I was a big Florida State fan growing up and he went there. I really liked watching him.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be?

GW: I don't really know him well, so this is not because of my relationship with him but from what I've seen and read, Chad Smith, the linebacker commit for Clemson I feel like he's a really good leader. That's somebody that I would want to start a team with -- a strong leader with a strong personality.

Who are you looking forward to competing against the most?

JW: The tight ends usually go up against the linebackers so I'd say the best linebackers there. That's one of the things that's so special about the Under Armour game is all the top talent is there. It's truly a unique opportunity to get all the top athletes in the country at their position in one place. I'm just excited to go against the top-tier linebackers and improve my game.

If you could take on any professional athlete in their sport who would it be?

GW: That's a tough one. I'd probably say Patrick Willis for the 49ers. I love watching him play. He's incredible.

What's your earliest football memory?

GW: My earliest tackle football memory would be when I was in third grade, which was the first year my parents let me play Pop Warner. I was bigger than most the kids that were my age so I had to play up with the sixth graders and I played center. I was so happy I could get the starting job and just get on the field anyway I could.

What's something that most people don't know about you?

GW: One interesting thing is that I have a garden at my house. Right now I have okra, bell peppers, beans and different kind of herbs. This summer, I wanted something to do when I wasn't here playing football so I decided I was going to clear 180 square feet of our yard so I cleared all the sod out and I built three 96 square foot boxes and I had to do all this stuff with the soil, but I was able to get it all done.

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