NCF On The Trail: Mitch Hyatt

Jeff Scott woke up early Wednesday morning and got in his car to drive in to work, a big day ahead. It started to hit him this would be his last signing day as Clemson recruiting coordinator.

Since 2009, he has helped Dabo Swinney put together one top-notch class after another, all of them Top 20 classes; five straight in the Top 15. The 2015 group, however, is their finest effort.

ESPN RecruitingNation placed Clemson at No. 4 -- its highest ranking since 2008. It also is the highest ranking under Swinney. There is little doubt the Tigers have been building for this moment. When Swinney became full-time head coach, he laid out his vision for recruiting and the program, built on a strong foundation with strong relationships.

The elite athletes and victories have followed. Clemson just finished its fourth straight season with 10 or more wins, and has become a Top 25 mainstay, bolstering the cause.

"What that does is it sends a message to these recruits and to their families that Clemson is here, and Clemson is going to be a contender, and Clemson is not going anywhere," Scott told "That top-tier athlete, we have signed our share of those the last five or six years, but there’s a higher concentration of those overall in this class, and it’s just because they’ve seen the product Clemson’s put out, not only in the Top-15 finishes, but also three top-10 years in APR graduation rate. All that really resonates and has come together to put together one of the best classes we’ve ever signed here at Clemson."

Clemson signed nine of the top 150 players in the ESPN rankings, its highest number since 2008. It all started with its highest rated player, offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, ranked No. 18 in the ESPN 300. Hyatt committed on signing day in 2014, setting the tone for the rest of the class.

"He became the cowbell for this 2015 class," Scott said. "Being a very highly rated, highly thought of player, we were able to build a lot of this class around him and his early commitment. He, along with Jake Fruhmorgen, Zach Giella and then right here in our home state Noah Green -- we feel those are four of the best offensive linemen in the country, and all four are here in January."

Clemson has a school-record 15 players enrolled early. Because the program just graduated so many seniors, they had the ability to take freshmen who wanted to get a jump on their collegiate careers. Clemson had 16 spots available for January, filling all but one.

So many openings also made Clemson appealing this recruiting cycle. Recruits know they will have the opportunity to play right away -- even on the offensive and defensive lines, the areas that Clemson targeted heavily this cycle.

They also happen to be the most difficult to fill with true freshmen. But being in school early means they will be able to participate not only in spring practice, but also get a jump on strength and conditioning so they can compete for playing time come August. Of the 15 mid-year signees, six are offensive or defensive linemen.

The work is not over, of course. Just like last year, Clemson picked up commitments on signing day Wednesday, including running back Tavien Feaster (No. 13 ESPN Junior 300). But new recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter is spearheading the 2016 class and beyond, as Scott transitions to co-offensive coordinator with Tony Elliott.

It is a move Scott is happy to make, though he did have mixed emotions Wednesday.

"It is bittersweet, but there’s no better way to go out than with this class this year," Scott said.

Recruit and return: Clemson Tigers 

December, 29, 2014
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.

#SceneAndHeard Lunch Break: Sept. 8 

September, 8, 2014
In today’s lunch break, it’s time to take a look at the top offensive line classes in 2015. If you are a fan of Clemson, the future is very bright in the trenches. On the West Coast, Erik McKinney breaks it down on a pair of ESPN 300 prospects.

Where's the beef in 2015?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Clemson has the No. 3-ranked recruiting class for 2015, and more than half of its commitments, including a five-star lineman, signed financial-aid agreements with the Tigers on Friday, six months before signing day.

Five-star offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Georgia/North Gwinnett) headlines a group of 13 commitments in Clemson’s 2015 class, which has 21 total pledges, that signed financial-aid agreements with the school on the first day prospects entering their senior year are allowed. All 13 are expected to enroll at Clemson in January.

"We're signing 13 guys to financial aid before we have even played a game,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Friday. “We're excited to have them join the Clemson family."

The NCAA clarified a rule last year that allows for senior recruits planning to enroll in the midyear to sign financial-aid agreements with schools beginning Aug. 1, the same day schools can officially give a recruit a written offer. The financial-aid agreements do not bind the player to the school, but the school is locked into the player unless he is no longer eligible for midyear enrollment. For the recruits, it guarantees their scholarship in Clemson’s 2015 class.

The recruits did not sign national letters of intent and are free to sign financial-aid agreements with multiple schools, but only the school they signed with first receives the contact benefits. With the clarified rule, however, once a prospect signs a financial-aid agreement the school can publicly mention the recruit and is no longer limited to contact restrictions with that recruit. The Clemson coaches are not limited to calling those 13 prospects once a week during the season anymore. Before last year it was taboo for schools to mention a recruit by name before signing a letter of intent, but the Tigers updated its official Twitter account throughout the day Friday welcoming the 13 recruits and sent out a press release announcing the soon-to-be additions.

There is a minor risk in Clemson publicly announcing the 13 recruits, and Swinney said Friday it’s still uncomfortable to be speaking about high school players before they are locked in to Clemson. If any of the 13 players enrolls at a school outside of Clemson, it could be perceived as a recruiting violation for mentioning a prospective student-athlete by name. The NCAA told reporter Mitch Sherman in January one conference office requested it be a violation. Any violation, if the NCAA deemed it as such, would likely be minor in nature.

There is an upward trend with recruits graduating high school a semester early and enrolling in January, and Clemson is taking full advantage. Deshaun Watson, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 class, enrolled in January and went through spring practice, and now the Tigers will likely bring in 13 recruits from the 2015 class for the spring semester. The extra semester on campus coupled with the 15 spring practices allows those freshmen to potentially make a greater impact during the season. The Tigers had five early enrollees in the 2014 class.

Six ESPN 300 recruits were among the 13 who signed for Clemson. Hyatt (No. 17) was joined by Jake Fruhmorgen (No. 95), Garrett Williams (114), Ray-Ray McCloud III (150), Noah Green (181) and Shadell Bell (262). Kelly Bryant, Kaleb Chalmers, Zach Giella, Tucker Israel, Tanner Muse, Chad Smith and Van Smith were the remaining recruits to sign financial-aid agreements.

Elsewhere in the ACC, North Carolina announced that two 2015 recruits, Carl Tucker and Anthony Ratliff, signed agreements.

ACC recruiting scorecard

May, 21, 2014
Clemson has had a big week on the recruiting trail, as the Tigers picked up the nation's No. 2 tight end, Garrett Williams on Monday. With that, we figured now is as good of a time as any to compile an ACC recruiting scorecard.

Below you will find each ACC team, its number of commitments and its most recent recruiting news. There's obviously a ways to go between now and national signing day on Feb. 4, 2015, but here's a look at where everyone in the league currently stands.

(Note: ESPN has only ranked the top 15 recruiting classes for 2015.)

Boston College
Current commitments: 9
Spotlight: The highlight of the Eagles' class is No. 7 tight end-H Jakeb Burt, a 6-foot-5, 238-pound three-star prospect. BC’s other big commits include three-star, No. 35 cornerback Lukas Denis and three-star, No. 52 offensive tackle Anthony Palazzolo.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Current commitments: 16
Spotlight: The Tigers' best recruit is five-star tackle Mitch Hyatt, the nation's No. 7 overall player and the highest-ranked offensive lineman to commit to the program in the 10 years ESPN has ranked players. Clemson has nine four-star commitments as well, with Williams and three other offensive linemen among them.
ESPN 300 commitments: 7
ESPN rank: 5

Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Blue Devils have just three commitments, but two of them are three-star players who are nationally ranked at their positions: No. 39 defensive tackle Brandon Boyce and No. 37 defensive end Zach Morris.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Florida State
Current commitments: 11
Spotlight: The Seminoles have hauled in No. 25 overall player Derwin James Jr., the nation's top safety. They also scored a major win by beating out in-state rivals Florida and Miami to get No. 5 cornerback Tyrek Cole. Florida State has six four-star players among its 11 commitments.
ESPN 300 commitments: 4
ESPN rank: 7

Georgia Tech
Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: No. 25 athlete Jaylend Ratliffe highlights this haul for the Yellow Jackets. The 6-1, 200-pound four-star is ranked as the No. 278 overall player in the nation, flashing tremendous athleticism as a left-handed quarterback at the prep level.
ESPN 300 commitments: 1

Current commitments: 1
Spotlight: Bobby Petrino's only commit in his first class with the Cardinals is 6-foot, 205-pound safety T.J. Jallow.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Current commitments: 11
Spotlight: No. 5 running back Dexter Williams has been the biggest get for the Hurricanes, as they stole him out of Gator Country. Miami also boasts No. 5 tight end-Y Bowman Archibald and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback Dwayne Lawson, two of seven four-star commitments for the program so far.
ESPN 300 commitments: 5
ESPN rank: 11

North Carolina
Current commitments: 9
Spotlight: The Tar Heels have landed the nation’s No. 3 tight end-H in ESPN 300 prospect Carl Tucker, a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 260 overall player. They have landed two other four-star prospects: No. 31 offensive tackle Mason Veal and No. 22 safety Ronnie Harrison.
ESPN 300 commitments: 1

NC State
Current commitments: 4
Spotlight: Three of the Wolfpack's four commitments have come from within the state, with the lone exception being wide receiver Freddie Phillips.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Panthers have just three commitments for this class, but two of them are three-star players who are nationally ranked at their positions: No. 27 outside linebacker Kevin Givens and No. 42 offensive guard Alex Paulina.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Current commitments: 7
Spotlight: The Orange's run game should look pretty good down the road: Five of their seven current commitments are either offensive linemen or running backs, with the top three prospects coming on the offensive line, and two of them currently prep teammates: tackle Colin Byrne and guard Samuel Clausman.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Current commitments: 3
Spotlight: The Cavaliers' 2015 recruiting class doesn't quite stack up to its 2014 haul as of now, but among their three prospects are nationally ranked, three-star players: No. 22 pocket-passing quarterback Nick Johns and No. 28 safety Juan Thornhill.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Virginia Tech
Current commitments: 4
Spotlight: The Hokies' class is also short on numbers but features three nationally ranked, three-star prospects: No. 39 athlete Mook Reynolds, No. 29 cornerback DuWayne Johnson and No. 37 defensive tackle Harry Lewis.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

Wake Forest
Current commitments: 2
Spotlight: Dave Clawson's first full class currently has two players: defensive end Paris Black and offensive tackle T.J. Haney.
ESPN 300 commitments: 0

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: With the release of the RecruitingNation class rankings, the focus was on SEC schools, but Clemson is quietly putting together a tremendous offensive class, and it added another key weapon on Thursday. Plus, there’s not just one but two elite 2015 tight ends in Arkansas.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN 300: Top ACC targets 

April, 16, 2014
With Wednesday’s release of the 2015 ESPN 300, here’s a look at five top ACC targets in the 2015 class.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN Junior 300 offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen committed to Clemson on Thursday during a ceremony at his high school. The No. 124-ranked prospect in the 2015 class chose the Tigers over Florida and adds to an already outstanding recruiting class for coach Dabo Swinney.

With Fruhmorgen on board, Clemson now has five ESPN Junior 300 commitments, including fellow offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt, who is ranked No. 4 overall.

Adding elite offensive line talent to its roster was a priority for Clemson, as the Tigers will be fielding some seniors along the offensive line when this class gets to campus. That idea of playing early might have helped the Tigers in their pursuit of Fruhmorgen, as his path to the field could be clearer at Clemson than at some of his other options.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State, among others. Fruhmorgen knew he wanted to make his decision for nearly three weeks now, but he decided to take a few visits to make sure there wasn’t any doubt in his choice.

After seeing Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State, the No. 7-ranked tackle knew Clemson was still the best fit.

This commitment also gives Clemson two prospects from Florida, a state that has been very kind to the Tigers recently. With targets George Campbell and Garrett Williams still on the board, Clemson is hoping to continue its success in the Sunshine state.

Getting to know Mitch Hyatt 

March, 28, 2014
ROSWELL, Ga. -- From the first time that Mitch Hyatt took snaps on the varsity level at left tackle, it was quickly apparent that North Gwinnett High was home to one of the top young offensive tackles in the country.

It was at the 2012 Corky Kell Classic where Hyatt, then 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, first flashed the skill set that college coaches covet.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Atlanta NFTC awards 

March, 24, 2014
The NFTC tour continued to roll on with a stop in Atlanta this past weekend. The event featured a very strong roster of talent, including a pair of top-five prospects in the ESPN Junior 300. No group was lean on talent, with plenty of promising 2015 and even 2016 prospects to evaluate. It's tough to name everyone who competed and did well. Below are some of the event's top and most notable performers in the latest addition of the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) might have a few more bags to carry and fight songs to sing during his first preseason camp at Clemson. That is because the 2015 star stole some of his future teammates’ spotlight on signing day 2014.

Hyatt, No. 4 in the ESPN Junior 300 and the No. 1 junior tackle, committed to Clemson in a public announcement during North Gwinnett’s signing day ceremony Wednesday evening.

An underclassman committing to the Tigers on signing day is becoming a tradition -- February’s version of the Howard’s Rock and running down the hill. On signing day 2012, Deshaun Watson committed to Clemson; he finally enrolled in classes at Clemson a few weeks ago.

Hyatt visited Clemson for its junior day, which turned him from a Clemson lean into a Clemson commitment.

“We went to Clemson this past weekend, and we had the kind of visit that he and his mother needed to have,” his uncle, Dan Benish, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They got a lot of questions answered. The piece that we were missing from the Clemson side was academics, and we spent all day on Saturday dealing with that."

A number of the country’s elite programs offered Hyatt, but the family connection to Clemson was too strong. Benish was a member of Clemson’s 1981 national championship team.

“There was never any pressure from me to pick Clemson,” Benish told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But there has been a brainwashing going on since he was 5 or 6 years old. Never pressure, but a little brainwashing. ... I have a bunch of Clemson memorabilia around my house, whether it’s Clemson T-shirts or sweatshirts for his birthdays.”

It was only two cycles ago Clemson signed the No. 4 recruit in the 2013 class, Mackensie Alexander. Hyatt will be the third top-10 recruit Dabo Swinney has signed at Clemson.

The Tigers have seven commitments in the 2015 class, none rated higher than Hyatt. He is their third ESPN Junior 300 commitment, and his pledge comes on the heels of dual-threat quarterback Tucker Israel accepting the Tigers’ offer.

#AskLoogs: Ranking Martez Ivey

January, 13, 2014
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Right now he is ranked No. 7 overall in the ESPN Junior 300 and No. 2 at his position behind Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett). The ESPN Junior 300 is an ever-evolving list as we are beginning to take what we know of them off freshman and sophomore seasons and adding their junior film now to complete their evaluation for the initial release of the 2015 ESPN300 in mid-April.

Ivey is a gifted player with tremendous measurables and athleticism, but he also plays in a run-heavy scheme. He is slightly behind the curve in pass protection but there will not be a steep learning curve in our opinion two years from now. He reminds us a lot of Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil who had similar rawness, but awesome talent base. The reason why Hyatt is slightly above Ivey right now is purely due to technique and polish.

ACC recruiting storylines: Oct. 17 

October, 17, 2013

The third-ranked Clemson Tigers will welcome plenty of national recruits this weekend as they host No. 5 Florida State on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, North Carolina and Wake Forest add commitments from the state of Florida, and Maryland might be out in front for Adam McLean .

Clemson hosting a top group

While the country's eyes will be on the top-five matchup between Clemson and Florida State Saturday night, a group of elite national prospects will be on hand to see it in person.

Five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) headlines the group. He's a guy Clemson has work to do in order to get, but a big win during his official visit could propel the Tigers forward.

Other big names expected to attend include D.J. Smith, Trevion Thompson, Mitch Hyatt, Taj Griffin and possibly Andrew Williams.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Recruits' eyes will be on Death Valley 

October, 17, 2013
Clemson and Florida State aren't going head-to-head for a bunch of prospects in this year's cycle, but both teams definitely would reap the benefits of a win Saturday.

What's more, the Tigers will have a plethora of national recruits on campus that night, including some on the list below. Will a win help sway these prospects?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider