APTOPIX CFP National Championship Clemson Alabama Football (copy)

Clemson receiver Justyn Ross (8) makes a one-handed catch in the Tigers' national championship victory over Alabama last season. Wide receiver EJ Williams, Ross's teammate at Central High in Phenix City, Ala., committed to Clemson on Saturday. Ben Margot/AP

Wide receiver EJ Williams of Phenix City, Ala., has watched his former high school teammate become a star at Clemson and wants to do the same thing.

On Saturday, the 6-3, 189-pound Williams committed to the Tigers over Auburn, Alabama and LSU.

Williams joins former high school teammates Justyn Ross, also a wide receiver, and safety Ray Thornton in Clemson.

The Tigers now have 20 commitments for the 2020 recruiting class, and have landed all three of the most recent major prospects to come out of Central High in Alabama.

“Coach I have the strongest relationship with is (wide receivers) coach Jeff Scott,” Williams said. “We talk every day about how I would fit in at Clemson. I feel like I can make an immediate impact.

"They told me I would be the “Nine” man, what Tee Higgins and (Justyn) Ross play. I’d be the boundary receiver.”

Clemson’s history of taking in top-flight receivers and moving them on to the NFL isn’t lost on Williams.

“They develop players real well,” Williams said. “When Justyn was coming out of high school, I wouldn’t think he’d go for a thousand yards his freshman year and have the most receiver yards on the team. That just shows that they have a great offense and they know how to throw the ball and spread the field.”

Williams caught 40 passes for 668 yards and eight touchdowns at Central last season.

Safety DJ Taylor of Tampa was impressive in his first high school game of the season, picking off three passes. Among those taking notice of the Arizona State commitment was South Carolina defensive coordinator/secondary coach Travaris Robinson. He was so impressed he contacted Taylor and made him an offer.

“I’ve been visiting there a lot with my 7-on-7 team,” Taylor said of his previous contact from Robinson. “The communication was there and then when I started getting ready for my commitment, it went away.

"All of a sudden, I guess they saw my performance in my game on Friday with three interceptions, a pass breakup and a couple of tackles. Coach T-Rob is real close friends with my head coach, and they communicated and he let me know and coach T-Rob let me know. They were like, it pays to be patient. He stayed interested and he let me know it had been awhile but everything is good now and they were giving me a scholarship.”

Taylor took an official visit to Arizona State in May and committed in June. That commitment is still in place, he said, but he has not shut down his recruiting.

“I’m definitely open a lot more,” he said. “I went to South Carolina when there wasn’t a game and I didn’t get any feedback on the game atmosphere, so I’m definitely going to get a chance to do that and see how that is. Anything can change."

Taylor has set an official visit to Louisville for his birthday weekend of Oct. 4, and said he plans to set a visit with USC. Some of his other offers are Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse, Duke, Illinois, UCF, USF, Iowa State, Kansas State, West Virginia and Wake Forest.

He plays corner for his high school but he said the Gamecocks are recruiting him for safety. USC has three cornerbacks committed for the 2020 class but no safeties.

The Gamecocks offered another safety last week in Charles Bell of Gaithersburg, Md., a Syracuse commitment.

“Nate Hammett (USC player personnel assistant) and Kyle Krantz (assistant coach) contacted me on Twitter,” Bell said. “Krantz told me he watched my film with their DC (defensive coordinatior Robinson) and they really liked it. He said I’m physical and fast and not afraid to hit.”

Bell said he wants to see more of the Gamecocks.

“My relationship feels like it’s building,” Bell said. “I really like what they are saying. I can’t wait to go down and see it for myself, and my recruitment is still open."

Bell also holds offers from Boston College, East Carolina, Maryland, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Temple, Liberty and others.

Marvin Scott, a running back who was offered by USC, has committed to Nebraska.

Defensive end Desmond Evans of Sanford, N.C., named a top five of USC, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

USC target defensive end Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn., moved his announcement from Nov. 2 to Thanksgiving Day. His top choices are USC, Alabama, Florida State, Tennessee, LSU and Vanderbilt.

Linebacker Desmond Tisdol of Rochelle, Ga., named a final seven of USC, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Nebraska, Florida Georgia Southern and Troy.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart last week landed a commitment from one of the Palmetto State's top 2021 prospects in safety Bralyn Oliver of Belton-Honea Path. He camped with both Clemson and USC this summer, but neither has offered him.

Basketball

PJ Hall (6-9) of Dorman, the state’s top basketball recruit for the 2020 class, has already started the final phase of his recruiting.

Earlier this month he took an unofficial visit to Virginia Tech. On Thursday he’ll take an unofficial visit to Clemson, working that in around the football game at Death Valley that night. Hall already has his final five official visits set as well as two of his in-home visits.

New Virginia Tech coach Mike Young, the former Wofford coach, has been close to the Hall family for years. As Hall’s status as a national recruit blossomed, Young’s chances to keep him home at Wofford diminished. But at an ACC program like Virginia Tech, Young now has a fighting chance.

“I just went up there to see him,” Hall said. “We just hung out on the campus. It was nice, it was fun. I know if I go there it would be a great fit. He would utilize all my skills. You get to coach at that level only if you know basketball.”

Clemson is the other ACC school on Hall’s short list. The Tigers have the advantage of being the in-state school that’s still involved as well as being the closest campus to his home. 

Clemson made the top 10 with 6-8 Keon Ambrose-Hylton of Toronto. Also on the list are Arkansas, Arizona State, Cal, Florida, Dayton, Illinois, Saint Louis, VCU and Virginia Tech.

USC target Earl Timberlake (6-8) of Dematha Catholic has set an official visit to Miami for Sept. 13, according to EditsRecruiting. He has taken official visits to USC and Providence. He’s also scheduled for an official visit to Pitt this weekend.

Another USC target, Cliff Omoruyi (6-11) of Roselle, N.J., has set an official visit to Pitt this weekend, according to PittsburghSportsNow. He recently visited Connecticut unofficially and reportedly has unofficial visits to Temple and St. John’s coming up.

Baseball 

Blythewood right-handed pitcher/infielder Landon Lucas committed to Clemson. He previously was committed to USC and then to College of Charleston. Last season he had 7 homers and 34 RBIs, and was 7-1 as a pitcher with a 1.41 ERA.

Mississippi State landed commitments from right-handed pitcher Mikey Tepper of Fort Mill and infielder David Mershon of Eastside.

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