CLEMSON — It’s nice to have top-shelf talent, and it’s sweet to gather a high number of recruits. Reaching both goals is downright special.
Quality and quantity mark this 2015 signing class for Clemson, which is making top-15 classes routine with its fifth straight. ESPN RecruitingNation and Rivals.com each rated Clemson’s class fourth overall behind Alabama, Florida State and Southern Cal.
In combining the final ratings from ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports.com (8th) and Scout.com (15th), the Tigers pulled in the No. 8-rated cumulative class in the nation, just behind Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia and Ohio State.
There are two reasons for the lofty scores. One, Clemson has already enrolled three Parade All-Americans (offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Albert Huggins and quarterback Tucker Israel) for the first time since 2011, and five-star wide receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud are on their way from Florida.
Moreover, Clemson’s 26 recruits represent the second-largest bunch in the past 17 years. In 2011, the Tigers brought in 27 recruits, and that senior group just departed Clemson with 42 victories, the winningest class in school history.
Quarterbacks: No pressure, kids. Israel or Kelly Bryant are going to be a heartbeat away from being the starter in 2015, since it’s Deshaun Watson and nobody else on campus.
Running backs: It’s not as though the Tigers lack for depth, but there aren’t exactly any obvious Todd Gurley or Mike Davis-type talents around. No running backs were signed in this class.
Receivers: Clemson already runs two-deep at just about every spot, and Cain and McCloud will keep pushing the returners for playing time. Keep an eye on four-star tight end Garrett Williams, who picked Clemson from a who’s who list of elite offers, and could play right away.
Linemen: The previous Parade first-team All-American blocker to sign with Clemson before Hyatt was Kelvin Hankins in 1987. Jake Fruhmorgen’s another fine 2015 recruit. The Tigers badly needed to bolster this position, and did it.
Linebackers: With both regular starters graduated, Clemson looks to a meaty depth chart to continue Brent Venables’ pace of solid ‘backers. Chad Smith’s a solid long-term prospect.
Secondary: This means more to the fans than the coaches, but Mark Fields decommitted from South Carolina and ended up at Clemson. He’s a dark horse to chip in at corner in 2015.
Linemen: After signing just two defensive linemen last year, Clemson brings in seven new faces after losing six seniors. Huggins and Christian Wilkins will get right to work filling the interior. Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell could get some looks on the outside.