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Clemson gets up-close look at top QB prospects, including Arch Manning

Clemson The Citadel NCAA football (copy)

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney talks to quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei during a game last season. The Tigers are recruiting multiple 5-star quarterback prospects. File/Ken Ruinard

It was a busy first week of live recruiting for Clemson and South Carolina. Not only were both football programs operating camps, they also were entertaining some of the top prospects on their boards for unofficial visits. The week did not produce any commitments thus far, but their hope is they laid the groundwork for some good news to come later in the summer.

Clemson had the headline visitor of the week with 5-star quarterback prospect Arch Manning (Class of 2023) of New Orleans attending the Tigers' camp. Manning is the grandson of Archie Manning and son of Cooper Manning. He participated in Clemson’s camp June 5 and he and his family stayed overnight for an unofficial visit the next day.

He got the tour of facilities and campus and later ventured out to Dabo Swinney’s home for dinner. And before leaving, Manning was offered by Swinney. This was Manning’s first stop of June. He also plans to go to SMU, Texas, Alabama and Georgia. Last season Manning passed for 1,922 yards and 21 touchdowns with 7 interceptions.

Manning wasn’t the only premier quarterback on display at Clemson over the weekend. Malachi Singleton of Kennesaw, Ga., also camped. He’s a 4-star prospect and ranked No. 17 nationally at quarterback in the 2023 class.  Last season he passed for 1,619 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,091 yards and 17 touchdowns. Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Miami are among his other offers.

Nico Imaleava of Downey, Calif., who is a second cousin of Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, and Eli Holstein of Zachary, La., were two other prominent quarterbacks to work out for Swinney and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter.

Defensive end Jeremiah Alexander of Alabaster, Ala., was one of the first prospects at Clemson when the live period began June 1. That was important for the Tigers because it gave Dabo Swinney and his staff a chance to get the jump on the competition for the 5-star prospect ranked the No. 1 edge rusher in the country in the 247Sports Composite.

“Clemson, I like the family base and I felt like it was genuine,” Alexander said. “I can’t say that Clemson isn’t at the top spot right now because they are. Me and my family loved it as well. I genuinely felt a family vibe, and I also felt comfortable. That’s two key things that I’m looking for when I commit to a school. Just got to take it day by day from here.”

Alexander visited Georgia on June 3 and Alabama on June 5. He also has an official visit to Central Florida scheduled for this weekend. That will be his only official visit of the month. He’ll set one with Clemson for the football season.

Mauldin safety Deuce Caldwell made two trips to Clemson last week. His visit June 1 was for pleasure. On June 3, it was for work. Caldwell performed in camp in front of defensive coordinator Brent Venables in the hopes of earning a scholarship offer. That didn’t come on Thursday, but Caldwell believes he gave Venables plenty to think about.

“It went real great, it really did,” Caldwell said. “I did a lot of coverage drills. A lot of bag work. Different things like that. And we did one-on-ones, and I feel like my performance was really good. Coach Venables told me I did great, and he was telling me he could see me playing in Clemson’s defense.”

Caldwell has scheduled official visits to North Carolina on June 15 and UCF on June 25. He also will be at South Carolina on June 24 with his 7-on-7 team.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables extended an offer to one of the top linebackers in the country last week. Raylen Wilson from Tallahassee, Fla., has offers from more than 20 colleges. The 4-star prospect is currently listed as the No. 111 player in the nation and the No. 10 linebacker in the 2023 class.

“They don’t just offer just because other schools offer,” Wilson said of Clemson. “He (Venables) said that not many get the opportunity to play at Clemson. He’s really blunt and I like that.”

Wilson has accepted an invitation to play in the 2023 Under Armour All-American Game. He is also a standout on the track, posting an 11.19 100-meter dash in March. When asked what a program will be getting from him when he makes his college choice, Wilson boasts that he’ll be a great teammate. “A leader on and off the field.”

Clemson is in the top 10 with running back Trevor Etienne of Jennings, La., the brother of former Tigers’ star Travis Etienne. The others are Penn State, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Tennessee.

Linebacker Drayk Bowen of Merrillville, Ind., will visit Clemson this week. He has been to Notre Dame and Michigan and will also visit Tennessee, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and LSU this month.

Clemson offered 5-star wide receiver Brandon Innis of Fort Lauderdale. He’s ranked the No. 1 receiver in the class in the 247Sports Composite.

Four-star cornerback Ethan Nation of Roswell, Ga., was offered by Clemson. He’s ranked No. 11 nationally among corners in his class. He had eight interceptions last season. Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Boston College and Ohio State are among his other offers.

Clemson offered five-star cornerback AJ Harris of Phenix City, Ala. He’s ranked the No. 2 cornerback nationally in his class in the 247Sports Composite.

At South Carolina, defensive end Davin Jackson of Sumter participated in coach Shane Beamer’s first camp at USC and afterwards received an offer.

“I couldn’t even speak at first, it was crazy,” Jackson said. “I was in Coach Beamer’s room and I was talking with him and Coach (Jimmy) Lindsey and it was a great conversation that ended up with an offer. I was super excited, me and my mom.”

Jackson has offers from N.C. State, Syracuse, East Carolina, Kansas, West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Tech, Tulane and Appalachian State. He has official visits to Syracuse and Coastal Carolina later this month. He’s rated a 3-star in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the No. 17 prospect in South Carolina.

Dutch Fork wide receiver Antonio Williams of Dutch Fork made an unofficial visit to USC on June 4 and one to Clemson on June 6. This weekend, Williams will check out  Georgia, Auburn and Alabama on successive days. And he’ll wrap up his June sightseeing with a weekend at Ole Miss on June 18. Former Ole Miss basketball star Murphy Holloway is Williams’s stepdad and is working closely with him on the recruiting process, something he knows well from his days at Dutch Fork.

 Last season Williams had 51 catches for 837 yards and 8 touchdowns. He had 1,504 total yards. Williams last week named a top 15 of USC, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss, Auburn, Oregon, Arizona State, Mississippi State, Miami, Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Southern Cal and Penn State.

Cornerback Jacobe Henderson of Catawba Ridge camped at Clemson June 3 and at USC the next day. Henderson believes he put on a good show for both staffs, and now he waits to see if his efforts will pay off.

“Most definitely both schools really like me,” Henderson said. “Clemson is going to stay in touch. USC was really excited to see me in person. I impressed them at the camp and will be building a relationship with them as well."

USC has made Oscar Delp of Cumming, Ga., its top priority for the tight end position in the 2022 class. But the Gamecocks aren’t the only ones who covet the 5-star prospect. Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Michigan are also in hot pursuit.

Where do the Gamecocks turn if Delp does not choose them? One possibility emerged from a camp session last week. Peyton Strickland of Goffstown, N.H., has been on no one’s recruiting radar. His only offer is from home-state New Hampshire. So, with the encouragement of former Gamecock star linebacker Corey Miller, Strickland came down to USC to work out for tight ends coach Erik Kimrey. Strickland explained that he has family in Irmo, and Miller is friends with his family there. He forwarded Miller some of his film and he passed it on to the Gamecock staff.

South Pointe (Rock Hill) High School cornerback Quan Peterson worked out for USC secondary coach Torrian Gray on June 1.

“It was a nine,” Peterson said when rating his visit on a scale of 1-10. “I liked it, they’ve got opportunities for my major and stuff. I’ve been to South Carolina a bunch of times … it was like a refresher.”

Peterson went to Tulane and then to Florida State later in the week. He has official visits scheduled with Syracuse and Marshall and plans to check out Coastal Carolina, Georgia Tech and Charlotte.

Quarterback Dominiq Ponder of Miami was at USC on June 3. “Got videotaped while I was throwing and they were loving me,’ Ponder said. Florida International, Southern Miss and Liberty have offered.

Laurens wide receiver Jayden McGowan was at USC over the weekend for some camp work. He impressed with his speed. His offers include Army, Navy, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee and Utah State.

Basketball

Brandon Martin, the 6-5 son of Gamecocks coach Frank Martin, announced he is transferring to USC from Upstate. He played 56 games in three seasons for Upstate, only three games last season. He had career averages of about five points and two rebounds per game.

Lewis Duarte (6-5) of Charlotte and Brandon Gardner (6-7) of Gray Collegiate made unofficial visits to USC Tuesday.

USC offered 4-star Judah Mintz of Oak Hill Academy, Va., according to Jacob Polacheck of ZagsBlog. Mintz is native of Maryland. He’s ranked the No. 15 combo guard nationally in the 247Sports Composite. Florida, LSU, Penn State, Maryland and Pitt are some other offers. He took an official to Pitt over the weekend and has scheduled an official visit to Penn State for this weekend.

USC offered Cam Whitmore (6-6) of Odenton, Md. He’s rated a 4-star in the 247Sports Composite and ranked the No. 30 small forward nationally. Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Connecticut are some other offers.

USC offered 5-star Zion Cruz of Hillside, N.J. He’s ranked the No. 4 combo guard nationally in the 247Sports Composite, and the No. 1 prospect in New Jersey.

USC offered 6-10 Christian Reeves of Concord, N.C., and  6-11 Steven Solano of New York.

Clemson is showing interest in point guard Braylen Blue of Madison, WI.

Illinois State transfer Dusan Mahorcic, who had Clemson in his final three, announced a transfer to Utah.

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