CLEMSON - The shopping list was unmistakable for lead Clemson recruiter Jeff Scott and the Tigers' coaching staff.
Although the scale may tip a smidge depending on two late decisions approaching on National Signing Day, the focus of Clemson's 2014 recruiting class is decidedly offense. Going into the big day, Clemson has twice the offensive players on board (12) as defense (6), along with a kicker to bring Clemson to 19 verbal commits entering Wednesday.
It makes sense, looking at the current Clemson roster. The Tigers must replenish at quarterback (Tajh Boyd), running back (Roderick McDowell), wide receiver (Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant) and offensive line (Brandon Thomas and Tyler Shatley.)
"They had an apparent need for running backs and receivers, and even offensive line," said TigerIllustrated.com recruiting analyst Paul Strelow, representing the Rivals.com network. "Getting the early commitment from Deshaun Watson certainly helped, for him being a high-profile guy."
The obvious prize of the 2014 class is Watson, rated the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country by Rivals, 247Sports.com and ESPN Recruiting.
Watson signed his financial aid agreement last fall, as did receivers Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott, and linebacker Chris Register. That group is on campus taking classes and will participate in spring practices.
Kitt, Priester, Scott and Trevion Thompson figure to bolster a receiving crew already flush with five options on last year's team: Adam Humphries, Charone Peake, Mike Williams, Germone Hopper and T.J. Green.
"Clemson's offense, being as marketable as it is, using the attraction of Watson," Strelow said, "you see that in where these prospects are coming from too."
Watson was plucked from Gainesville, Ga., and the Tigers are set to sign four other 4-star prospects from the Peach State: Kitt, running back Adam Choice, tight end Milan Richard and linebacker Korie Rogers.
"Certainly Georgia's always a priority area," Strelow said, "but when a guy with Watson's profile comes on board, Kitt knows Deshaun personally, so they built off of that."
Meanwhile, thanks to defensive ends Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford and linebacker Stephone Anthony deciding to return for their senior seasons, that side of the ball is pretty well set for 2014.
The Tigers' entire defensive line - starters and reserves - return, as do experienced backups at linebacker and cornerback. Three safeties with starting experience are back, and a wealth of talented freshmen who redshirted expect to fill in gaps in the secondary.
"I think (the Tigers), to their favor, have positioned themselves where they don't need any immediate contributors," Strelow said. "With the cornerback class they signed last year and being able to redshirt a bunch of those guys, there will be guys who play as freshmen, but there's not a vacancy where a guy's going to be immediately a starter next year."
Four-year placekicker Chandler Catanzaro graduated, so it'll either be junior Ammon Lakip or incoming freshman Alex Spence handling extra points and field goals next fall.
Look for three defenders to go one way or the other on Signing Day.
Richard Yeargin III, a linebacker from Fort Lauderdale, decommitted from Notre Dame a couple weeks ago and could be headed to Clemson, which won the Orange Bowl in nearby Miami Gardens on Jan. 3.
Alabama-bred defensive lineman Cory Thomas previously was committed to Tennessee, but is still considering Clemson and Mississippi State. Another Georgia product, defensive end Andrew Williams, is weighing Clemson against Auburn and Georgia.
"Going forward, looking to 2015 and beyond, on the offensive and defensive lines, it affords the luxury of this class of being pretty selective," Strelow said. "They can take a guy if they like him, and if not, pocket it for 2015, when I expect Clemson to have a huge class especially off the Orange Bowl."
Clemson commitment list
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/School
Adam Choice RB 5-9 206 Thomasville, Ga.
Justin Falcinelli OL 6-5 300 Middletown, Md.
CJ Fuller RB 5-10 190 Easley
Jefferie Gibson DB 6-4 185 Hope Mills, N.C.
Taylor Hearn OL 6-5 305 Williston Elko
Kendall Joseph LB 6-1 230 Belton-Honea Path
Demarre Kitt WR 6-1 195 Tyrone, Ga.
Jae'lon Oglesby RB 5-10 170 Daniel
Kyrin Priester WR 6-1 181 Fork Union, Va.
Chris Register DE 6-4 220 Greensboro, N.C.
Milan Richard TE 6-3 227 Savannah, Ga.
Jabril Robinson DL 6-3 265 Leland, N.C.
Korie Rogers LB 6-2 210 Buford, Ga.
Artavis Scott WR 5-11 180 Tarpon Springs, Fla.
Cannon Smith TE 6-5 230 Hammond School
Alex Spence K 6-2 180 West Florence
Trevion Thompson WR 6-3 185 Durham, N.C.
Deshaun Watson QB 6-2 185 Gainesville, Ga.
Jalen Williams LB 6-0 220 Blythewood
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