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Clemson eyes 2021 recruit Mukuba for secondary

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Clemson South Carolina Football (copy)

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

Clemson has built one of the nation’s top football recruiting classes for 2021, but there’s more work to be done. The Tigers have addressed most of their needs but have yet to pull in a commitment for the secondary.

They know who they want as a safety, and that’s Andrew Mukuba (5-11, 181) of Austin, Texas. He is down to Clemson, LSU and Texas, and Clemson has made it clear to him how important he would be for their class.

“We talk a lot. They don’t really blow up like every other school does. Our relationship is understood, so they don’t have to call me every day, because they know how we roll,” Mukuba said. “They’ve been telling me I’m the only safety they are recruiting in this class, and they have dropped everybody. That’s an eye-opener for me. That’s what they’ve been telling me.”

Mukuba talks primarily with safeties coach Mickey Conn and defensive coordinator Brent Venables, with some Dabo Swinney mixed in. He has done a virtual tour with the staff, which helps to make up for an actual visit to the campus he has yet to take. “I feel like the coaches are keeping it real. The coaches are real. They’ve just been keeping it real with me ever since they started recruiting me,” Mukuba said. “When they say I’m the only safety they are recruiting, I’m going to believe that because there was word going around town that they turned down a couple of commitments just to focus on me. That’s real big on me. I feel great with Clemson. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff. I trust the coaching staff and what they’re doing and what they’ve been telling me this whole time.”

And that includes what he hears from Swinney when they talk.

“I’ve talked to Coach Swinney a couple of times,” Mukuba said. “He seems like a real great guy. Everything he preaches and says is God first with him. His faith in God is very big. Me talking to him, it just feels like I could be talking to my next head coach. He’s just a wonderful guy, wonderful coach. He does a lot for his players. I’ve talked to a couple of players, and he does a lot of his team and his players.”

While Clemson has made Mukuba the focus of their safety recruiting at this point, he said LSU is taking three and Texas has one committed and will take one more. That’s just another factor he has to consider as he works on his decision. “It’s going to come down who I trust the most, where I feel comfortable the most, and where I see myself coming in and making an impact early on,” Mukuba said. “Basically, where I feel like I’m needed the most. Not just wanted, but needed the most.”

Texas, which is just 15 minutes from his home, is the only one of his finalists he’s had the chance to visit. The NCAA dead period has prevented visits since March, and that’s not made it easy for Mukuba to set an announcement date.

“No, I don’t, sadly,” he said. “When they (the NCAA) officially announces that there are no visits at all, I’m not going to have a choice but to make a decision.”

Ideally, he’d like to visit Clemson and LSU in person before making his decision. Last season, Mukuba had 26 tackles with two interceptions. He also plays receiver and caught 33 passes for 641 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s rated as a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked as the #12 safety nationally.

The nation’s top-ranked prospect in the 2021 class, DE Korey Foreman (6-4 260) of Corona, Calif., has time on his hands this fall since they aren’t playing high schools games in California.

So, the former Clemson commitment is checking out schools in his top five, even though there’s an NCAA mandated dead period in place. But top recruits are organizing their own social visits to some schools, and Foreman is part of that troupe. Last month Foreman and his father flew to Atlanta and then drove over the Athens to visit Georgia again. There Foreman met up with his close friend, fellow five-star Maason Smith of Houma, La., and others in a gathering organized by quarterback commitment Brock Vandagriff.

“When I was at Georgia, it was a fun experience,” Foreman said. “I was with some guys, lot of commits. It was more me being around the setting of everything along with my dad. I wasn’t able to check out any facilities or anything like that. I’d been to Georgia, so I know what the facilities look like except for the new weight room they are installing.”

Did the thought of making the 75-mile drive up I-85 for a quick visit to the Clemson campus cross his mind? Foreman chuckled and said, “I was talking to my dad about it, but we didn’t have enough gas money.”

Foreman and his dad were back in the Southeast this past weekend to visit LSU and reconnect with his pal Maason. The two are considering attending the same school. LSU and Georgia are on Foreman’s published short list along with Clemson, Southern Cal, Alabama, Howard and Oregon. Clemson has taken commitments from other defensive ends for the 2021 class, but the Tigers haven’t cashed out in the Foreman sweepstakes. They may be taking the low-key approach, but the desire to have him in the program is still there.

“Same ole same ole,” Foreman said. “I talk to those coaches as much as I do any coaches probably. I try and spread the wealth as much as possible, but I’m busy with school. I try and balance things as much as possible.”

Clemson defensive ends coach Todd Bates has been and continues to be Clemson’s lead recruiter for Foreman. He did the hard sell job earlier, and he got the commitment. That approach no longer is necessary.

“It’s just more of, hey Korey, how’s your day. It’s not just the recruiting aspect,” Foreman said. “Those are the conversations I look for rather than just talking about how great so and so school is or how better my school is compared to that school. Those are the conversations I’d rather fall away from. The conversations I’d rather talk more about is how and I’m doing and how is the family, things like that.” Clemson still has a place in my heart,” Foreman continued, adding that he’s not talked with Bates about the off-campus unofficial visit, but he’d like to take one there.

“I don’t have a top five yet, but when I do, they still are in it. Nothing has changed,” Foreman said. 

Foreman said he’s not sure when he’ll name a top five, and he’d like to take official visits to those five if and when the NCAA lifts the dead period. He will be an early signee. Foreman said he is participating in a full pad training camp at a prep school he attended in the 8th grade since he has no high school season this fall.

Gaffney DT Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins issued another short list Wednesday night, naming a final four of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Ingram-Dawkins cut Alabama and Virginia Tech from the top six list he published in July. The Gamecocks have been a constant with Ingram-Dawkins throughout the recruiting process dating back to his junior year. He said in July their attention has been hard to ignore.

“I do a lot of stuff with them. It’s my home state, home school. I’ve been there like three times and I’ve seen the whole school. It was my first SEC offer. My bond with Coach T-Rob (Travaris Robinson) and Coach (Will Muschamp) is real tight. I talk to them every day.”

Ingram-Dawkins plans to graduate early but he has not set a date for a commitment.

OL Kamron Scott (6-5, 302) of Converse, Texas, has a commitment date set for Oct. 24. USC offensive line coach Eric Wolford has been recruiting Scott, and he said he’s let Wolford know the deal.

“Getting ready to make a decision here pretty soon, and I let them know that they were No. 1 on my list for sure. Ole Miss and Colorado are pretty close to them, but they’re leading the way right now. That’s about it,” Scott said. “I’ve been talking with Coach Wolford more recently, and he and I are just building our relationship more each and every day. He says he likes how physical I am, I’m pretty athletic and just the right fit for the program.”

The others in his top six are SMU, Houston and UTSA, where he was committed until June. Scott said what has separated the Gamecocks from the rest is what he feels Wolford brings to the table.

“His experience with different offensive linemen over the years,” Scott said. “He’s sent over 30-something offensive linemen to the NFL. That’s really major to me because I know I can go there to him and he can get me in the right place I need to be. And the whole city and everything. I’ve seen the dorms and stadium. Columbia itself is a good city to live in.” Will Muschamp, Scott said, has also picked up his contact with him of late. “He will text me every morning,” Scott said. “When I wake up, he’s sent me some quotes for the day to get my head put on straight. He’s been texting me a lot lately.”

Scott is a native of Thomasville, Ga., and still has family in Georgia. First-year Gamecocks offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who also is from Thomasville, got the ball rolling for the Gamecocks with Scott and they offered in mid-July. Scott is rated as a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the #58 guard nationally.

OL Caleb Etienne (6-9, 335) of Butler County JC, Kan., has had little movement in his recruiting since naming a final six of USC, Houston, Oregon, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State. He is back at the junior college and about to start practice for a season that won’t be played until the spring. He said his top six are keeping in regular contact. From USC, that means Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Eric Wolford.

“Right now, just been letting every flow still, just checking out everything, nothing has changed in my top six,” Etienne said. “That’s what I’m aiming out right now. Still talking to all the schools and staying in contact with everybody. Coach Wolford, we talk every week. And Coach Muschamp texts me, my DMs and messages, sending me motivational quotes.”

Etienne eventually plans to cut his list in half and go from there with his decision. That next step won’t be an easy one for him.

“It’s really hard, everybody is trying, everybody is in the same boat,” Etienne said. “That’s why I really can’t tell. I’m feeling good about South Carolina. I feel like they want me, they want me bad. I’m going to keep on working and hopefully everything will work for the best. I might go there, I don’t know.”

What’s making the process even more difficult for Etienne is the inability to take official visits. “That’s what I really wanted to do first, take some officials, and then I’d be ready to have my final decision,” he said. “I haven’t really been on any visits. I’ve been doing virtual visits.”

Etienne is a native of New Orleans. He committed to Mississippi in high school but ended up signing with Nichols State before enrolling at Fort Scott JC in Kansas.

USC target TE Michael Trigg of Lake Wales, Fla., was among the prospects to visit LSU over the weekend on their own accord.

One-time USC target DE Zyun Reeves of Kernersville, N.C., committed to N.C. State.

DT Marlin Dean of IMG Academy and Elberton, Ga., committed to Georgia for a second time. He drew USC interest prior to his first commitment and after his decommitment.

Clemson target OG Jager Burton (6-4, 270) of Lexington, Ky., announced he will stay home and play for the Kentucky Wildcats. Along with Clemson, Burton also had Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon on his short list.

TE Jack Hollifield of Shelby, N.C., committed to Virginia Tech where his brother is a linebacker. USC showed early interest with an offer.

USC target LB Tavareon Martin-Scott was offered by Mississippi State.

2022 WR Adam Randall (6-3, 200) of Myrtle Beach added two more big-time offers from opposite ends of the country last week. Clemson and Oregon made their verbal pitches to Randall on Tuesday on the first day football recruiters would initiate contact with ’22 prospects. He also was offered last week by Mississippi. They join the likes of USC, Louisville, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke, Arkansas Mississippi State, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina and S.C. State on his offer sheet. New Clemson receivers coach Tyler Grisham had been in contact with Randall for several months, and all those conversations led up to the big moment Tuesday when the offer was delivered.

“It was great hearing that they wanted to give me an offer and I was very excited. And it was a little different because me and coach Grisham have such a good relationship,” Randall said. “When I went to camp in the 9th grade, they put me with coach (Jeff) Scott so that I could be in front of him during the camp. But my 8th grade camp, I was paired with coach Grisham during camp. So we have been building a relationship for the past two years, and now every time I go up there I speak to him. The conversations have been talking about how to stay focused with everything crazy happening right now.”

Randall already has a lead group of schools in his mind, and that’s made up of Clemson, USC, Tennessee and Oregon.

“I’m just looking for a place to call home and somewhere that I fit,” Randall said. “I’m also looking for a place that I can go and play early and somewhere with a good connection. Many coaches say that they like my size, speed, and ability to break tackles. I feel like a strength in my game is my size advantage and my ability to get separated from other defenders.”

Randall plays in a high-powered offense that was led last season by USC freshman quarterback Luke Doty, and also highlighted receiver JJ Jones, a North Carolina commitment. He is currently ranked as the No. 176 player in the nation and the No. 4 player in South Carolina, according to 247Sports.

Clemson target 2022 RB Trevor Etienne of Jennings, La., was offered by Mississippi, Texas A&M and Tennessee. He’s the brother of Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

Clemson target 2022 LB Jalon Walker of Salisbury, N.C., was offered by Stanford and Alabama. He has named a top 10 of Clemson, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Auburn, Texas A&M, Texas, Georgia, Ohio State, LSU and Arizona State.

2022 Clemson and USC target OL Gunner Givens of Daleville, Va., was offered by Indiana.

2022 Greenville OL Collin Sadler was offered by Indiana.

USC offered 2022 SAF Zion Branch (6-3, 190) of Las Vegas, 2023 DE Antonio Camon (6-3, 200) of Brandon, Fla., 2023 DE Rueben Bain (6-3, 249) of Miami.

Basketball

Clemson is in the final seven with four-star shooting guard 6-3 D’Marco Dunn, a native of Arizona who is attending school in Fayetteville, N.C. He is rated the No. 15 shooting guard prospect in the country in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 2 prospect in North Carolina. The others on his short list are Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Louisville, Georgia and Vanderbilt. Clemson coach Brad Brownell and assistant Dick Bender are working Dunn and pushing the idea of early playing time and a place to build his own legacy. Dunn said he’s on the same page with the Clemson coaches.

“Just the connection we have, they talk about the opportunity to play there and what’s presented there,” Dunn said. “Coming in early, making an impact. Helping this team elevate even further than it already has in the last couple of years. Just keep that rise going.”

Dunn has the opportunity to go to a blue blood program like North Carolina, Arizona or Louisville, or to a program striving for national relevance, like the other four on his list. He doesn’t prefer one blood type over the other.

“It’s just the opportunity to not only represent myself but represent the program,” Dunn said. “Any place that I feel that our goals align, and just the right fit, honestly. The place that’s going to fit you the best, whether it be blue blood or not.”

Dunn has not visited any of the schools on his list in person, but he has done multiple Zoom sessions with each coaching staff. And he’s about ready to make his decision.

“I don’t think I’m going to cut again,” Dunn said. “I’m just going day by day and feel out these programs and see which one I think fits me the best. I’m going to commit soon. I’m not sure exactly when. The next couple of weeks, very soon. It’s not too clear. I wouldn’t say I even have a leader. I’m not feeling some schools any more than the others.” Last season Dunn averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

6-8 Ian Schieffelin of Loganville, Ga., has Clemson in his final five along with Virginia Tech, Richmond, Dayton and Appalachian State.

6-8 Kaleb Washington of Mableton, Ga., who had a Clemson offer, did not include the Tigers in his top 11. He has San Diego State, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Miami, Virginia Tech, Dayton and Iowa State.

USC target 6-9 Langston Wilson Georgia Highlands JC was offered by Texas A&M.

USC offered 6-8 Jalen DeLoach of The Skill Factory in Atlanta. Clemson also has offered. Deloach reclassified from the 2020 class. He also has offers from Houston, Morgan State, Iona, Texas Southern, Georgia, Appalachian State and Mississippi.

Clemson offered 2022 6-5 Jalen Carruth of Atlanta, according to Knowledge Hoops. He also has an offer from Xavier. Carruth will attend Bella Vista Prep in Arizona this season.

Former Keenan standout 6-7 Raekwon Horton, now at Vermont Academy, committed to College of Charleston.

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