Football Recruiting: Grading the Clemson class of 2014
CLEMSON - It's nice to sign a highly rated recruiting class. It's nicer to check off the grocery list with the right recruits.
Much to the delight of pillows everywhere in the homes of Clemson coaches, it wasn't much of a restless night Tuesday leading into National Signing Day for the Tigers. All 21 of their original verbal commits stayed true to their word, and defensive end Richard Yeargin III also picked Clemson as expected, giving the Tigers 22 players in the class of 2014.
ESPN (No. 12) and Rivals.com (No. 13) rates Clemson's class in the top 15 for the fourth straight year, whereas 247Sports Composite (No. 18) and Scout.com (No. 28) are a little less bullish.
In all, the Tigers locked down a dozen offensive players and nine on defense, plus kicker Alex Spence, to help fortify an already-loaded roster in terms of numbers. There are no obvious immediate contributors in 2014 at this time, so most will figure to either redshirt or get spare time in preparation for future roles.
Quarterbacks: Deshaun Watson. Two words say it all. The Tigers got their student, and perhaps more importantly, the master (offensive coordinator Chad Morris) is still on staff for now. Already on campus, Watson will get his chance to beat out Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly for the 2014 gig. Grade: A
Running backs: It's expected that 2013 backups Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard and C.J. Davidson will heal up, plus redshirts Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman will join the fray, but the Tigers spent three scholarships on more backs anyway. Adam Choice, C.J. Fuller and Jae'lon Oglesby were three highly productive high schoolers who likely will wait their turn. Grade: B-
Receivers: The key for Watson is to create chemistry early with his targets, and that's what he'll do with Artavis Scott and Demarre Kitt immediately. Kyrin Priester's also on campus, and Trevion Thompson's a big incomer who could slide in behind Mike Williams in the "go long" role. Grade: A-
Linemen: Dabo Swinney speaks highly of three-star recruits Taylor Hearn and Justin Falcinelli as far as their toughness. But in recent years, Clemson has failed to produce superstar, uber-dependable blockers to firmly protect the quarterback, so time will tell. Grade: C+
Linemen: Wasn't as high a priority in this class, but Richard Yeargin III could factor into the mix with a little hard work in 2014. Jabrill Robinson should be stashed for the future. Grade: B
Linebackers: Some intriguing prospects here. Chris Register's a big boy at 240 pounds and Korie Rogers has the rangy speed, and the class is filled out by Kendall Joseph and Jalen Williams. Jeff Davis' twin sons join in 2015. Grade: B+
Secondary: Wasn't as high a priority in this class. Only Jefferie Gibson comes aboard, and the Tigers are set at safety for 2014. Many corners redshirted last year. Grade: C+
OVERALL GRADE: B+