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Clemson football has another big week in recruiting

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers remain hot on the class of 2021 recruiting trail. File/Chris Seward/AP

Clemson added two more prospects to its 2021 recruiting class last week, including one of the nation’s top linebackers.

Four-star linebacker Barrett Carter of Suwanee, Ga., primarily focused his recruiting attention on Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State. Carter made several visits to Clemson during the recruiting process, including junior day on March 7.

He said his comfort level with the Tigers grew with each visit and they made him feel part of the family.

“I am very comfortable with Clemson and the city,” Carter said. “I felt at home at Clemson. It’s a great environment there. The coaching staff is so welcoming. I love how Coach (Dabo) Swinney is very Christ-based. That sticks out about a coach.”

One of Carter’s strengths is his versatility. He can be moved around the field, much like the Tigers did with NFL first-round pick Isaiah Simmons. So the comparisons to Simmons are inevitable for Carter.

“I am not 6-4, I am just 6-1, but I am a shorter version of Isaiah because of how versatile and athletic I am. That is a huge compliment to me,” Carter said. “I would say that I am very versatile. I can cover anybody on the field. I can also play in the box. I am sideline to sideline and I am pretty fast. I can cover a lot of ground and make plays all over. My versatility is what sets me apart. I can make plays all over the field. It’s my dream to play in the NFL, so to see how he (Brent Venables) develops linebackers speaks volumes to me.”

Carter is the second linebacker commitment for the class,  joining Jeremiah Trotter from Philadelphia. According to MaxPreps stats, last season Carter had 76 tackles with 9 tackles for loss, 9 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries.

Clemson missed out on its top two quarterback targets for the 2021 class in five-star Caleb Williams and four-star Christian Veilleux, but the Tigers last week did land a talented prospect they just recently offered in Bubba Chandler (6-4, 195) of Bogart, Ga.

Chandler was not a heavily recruited quarterback until Clemson offered, and then Miami, Louisville and Ole Miss followed with offers. A major reason for that was he had been a Georgia baseball commitment since last June, so he wasn’t highly thought of in football recruiting circles. Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter moved on Chandler after reviewing his junior film and having several virtual meetings with him.

“It’s been crazy, it’s been really sweet, I never dreamed of it, if we’re going to be honest, ” Chandler said. “A few of my buddies and I were talking and saying when we were freshmen we never even played football and how cool it would be to to play at Clemson, and now I have the opportunity to do so. It’s just different there. They’re bringing in guys that are like me who don’t have the stats and the publicity and turn them into first-round draft picks like Isaiah Simmons.”

Chandler had very good numbers last season: 2,100 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, and 500 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He likes to compare his game to what Clemson fans have grown accustomed to.

“Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson, I try to pattern my game after those two guys, kind of a mix, ” Chandler said. “Trevor is a good runner but Watson was better. Trevor has a freaking cannon. I try to be able to make all the throws that he can and try to be able to make all the runs and good moves that Deshaun does.”

Clemson, of course, is well stocked in their quarterback room for the foreseeable future with DJ Uiagalelei and Taisun Phommachanh. That is not a concern to Chandler.

“I’m not afraid of competition,” Chandler said. “I’ve got all the respect for them. I don’t really know Taisun but D.J. I watched him on QB1 and you can see that on film and on the field. I feel like I’m just as good as him in some aspects of the game and I want to go there and compete.”

Chandler also plans to play baseball for Clemson and has been talking with coach Monte Lee about joining his program. At the time his season ended this spring, as a right-handed pitcher and shortstop, he was 2-0 with 16 strikeouts in seven innings, and he was hitting .435. Chandler gives Clemson an even dozen pledges for the 2021 class. Five of those commitments are from Georgia.

More recruiting news

Clemson target four-star SAF Khari Gee of Atlanta committed to LSU.

Myrtle Beach WR JJ Jones committed to North Carolina last week. He picked the Tar Heels over USC and Georgia. “I really based it off of the school I felt was home,” Jones said. “How I fit in, and the play style, that’s why I chose the school because I feel like I fit in very well there.”

USC also missed on a second target last week when OL Jakiah Leftwich of Atlanta announced his commitment to Georgia Tech.

A top USC and Clemson target, DE Zaire Patterson (6-6, 215) of Winston-Salem, N.C., is set to announce his decision on Tuesday. The four-star prospect has given no indications about his plans. Many of the projections in the recruiting world have him choosing between the Gamecocks and Tigers. Some of his other offers were North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

DT Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins of Gaffney originally planned to announce his college commitment this month but he put that off until June 26. USC is one of his final six. Ingram-Dawkins would not say whom he had planned to commit to, but he did spend time last week talking with Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp and assistants Travaris Robinson and Tracy Rocker.

Ingram-Dawkins has a top six of USC, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia and Penn State. And he said another national power is trying to crash the party. “I’ve got Oklahoma coming back up, they are probably coming up in the tops,” Ingram-Dawkins said. ‘I’ve been talking to them even though they are not in my top six. I already had an offer from Oklahoma and they still been recruiting me ever since I didn’t even include them in the top six. They are still recruiting.” Clemson will not be one of those programs trying to get back in on Ingram-Dawkins. “I talked to Clemson maybe last month and they told me they were full,” he said. “I grew up a Clemson fan. Clemson was my dream school, so I hit them up and showed them my film and stuff. They told me they were full at D-line. Just got to move on.”

And moving on means working toward making an announcement on his new date of June 26. Maybe. “I’m planning to, but it’s not 100 percent, not guaranteed,” Ingram-Dawkins said. “It depends on when everything opens up. I’m trying to get to Florida State, Penn State and North Carolina and visit. I’m trying to visit everywhere in my top six.” The 247Sports Composite has Ingram-Dawkins as a three-star prospect, the 25th-ranked defensive tackle in the country and the No. 3 prospect in South Carolina.

CB Javon Bullard (5-11, 183) of Milledgeville, Ga., included USC in his top 12, and the Gamecocks are working to get him to campus for the first time for a recruiting visit when the dead period ends. “I talk to coach Kyle Krantz a lot, almost daily,” Bullard said. “He’s telling me they look at me as more of an athlete, not just a one position guy. I wanted to be playing corner, but he said they would try to squeeze me in at the nickle and the safety spot.”

Bullard has liked what he’s heard from Krantz and has a favorable impression of the Gamecocks program. “South Carolina is a great program,” Bullard said. “I grew up watching South Carolina. Of course they are in the SEC. When they offered it was a for real moment for me.”

The Gamecocks will have to battle Georgia and several others for Bullard. The Bulldogs are among his offers. Also in his top 12 are West Virginia, Auburn, Boston College, Vanderbilt, NC State, Pitt, Tennessee, Stanford, UCF and Purdue. He said along with USC, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Louisville and N.C. State have been showing strong interest. He did get the chance to visit N.C. State and Wake Forest before visits were stopped. At this point, he’s keeping things very open as he looks down the road with no real timetable for a decision.

Multi-position athlete Raheim “Rocket” Sanders (6-2, 210) of Rockledge, Fla., named USC among his top five last week and has set June 8 for his commitment. The Gamecocks are joined by Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Florida State on the short list. Sanders can play receiver, running back, linebacker and defensive back. He’s been talking with a variety of Gamecocks coaches including Muschamp.

“They want me to come there and play right away on the offensive side of the ball," Sanders said. "They want me to come over there and take over on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver and running back. They said they just want the ball in my hand. Coach Kyle (Krantz) actually wants me at linebacker, but the head coach is like, it don’t matter. He can use me in many ways.”

Three of Sanders’ top five live in the SEC. That’s a league he believes he’s built for. Some of Sanders’ other offers are Indiana, UCF, Kansas, Virginia, Miami, Louisville, Nebraska, Tennessee, Pitt, West Virginia, Auburn, Duke and Maryland. He does not plan to commit early, but he will graduate early. Sanders is rated as a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked 43rd nationally among athletes and the 78th best prospect in Florida.

According to MaxPreps stats, last season Sanders had 15 catches for 368 yards and 2 touchdowns, and 17 tackles with 6 sacks. He’s also a sprinter and clocked an 11.31 seconds in the 100-meter-dash earlier this spring.

New USC defensive line coach Tracy Rocker brought more than his football wisdom and teaching skills with him when he arrived in Columbia from Tennessee. He brought his phone list, too, and he’s using it. One player he has moved on with the Gamecocks he started on with the Vols is DE Demarcus Smith (6-4, 262) of Birmingham. The two reconnected once Rocker went to work for Will Muschamp and the relationship continues.

“At first, Coach Rocker was at Tennessee, and he ended up showing South Carolina my film, and they actually offered me before Tennessee offered me,” Smith said. “They are telling me that that’s the place for me to be. He likes that I’m physical and come off the ball, and they say I’d be a perfect fit in their defense.”

Smith has not yet visited USC, but he plans to. He also has talked with Muschamp and he likes the feeling he gets from the Gamecock staff. “The coaches are cool, and I like the vibe with the coaches,” Smith said. “I think it’s an amazing place and I can’t wait to get my visit in when this corona thing is over with.” Smith said USC, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kansas and Ole Miss are the offers sticking out the most with him at this point. He also has Memphis and UAB in his top seven. He has visited Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Some other offers are North Alabama, Memphis, Georgia State, Southern Miss and Jacksonville State. Smith said he wants to study veterinary medicine in college, and he’s also looking for a good fit from a football standpoint.

Muschamp and offensive line coach Eric Wolford have kept up their recruiting efforts with OT Caleb Etienne (6-9, 315) of New Orleans and Butler County JC, KS. The one-time Ole Miss commitment and Nichols State signee said the Gamecocks are one of the programs he’s talking with the most, and he has the Gamecocks in a strong position with his recruiting.

“I’ve been talking with the offensive line coach a lot from South Carolina, Coach Wolford, he’s been keeping in contact with me the most,” Etienne said. “We talk every day of the week. They stay in contact with me, get on Zoom, stuff like that. He just talks about the campus and all the stuff they have to offer. Just really giving me a read on some of the stuff that they have that can help me if I come there.”

Etienne said Wolford has presented his plans for him and believes the two of them could have a bright future working together.

Etienne is also talking to Oregon, Houston and Mississippi and just picked up an offer from Oklahoma State, but prior to that he said he was mostly hearing from USC, Oregon, Houston and Mississippi State.

Kinlaw model

Javon Kinlaw is the model USC coaches can now use when recruiting junior college defensive linemen. The Gamecocks can point to Kinlaw’s rise from the junior college ranks to first-round draft pick as a result of time at USC. That’s part of the appeal DT Isaiah Coe (6-3, 310) of Iowa Western J.C. finds in USC, and one of the reasons he has the Gamecocks in his final five as he moves toward his announcement June 5.

“Yeah, definitely, the way they developed Javon Kinlaw and how they made him into a first-round draft pick, he was a top 10 prospect,” Coe said. “It was really intriguing to me how they have a love for juco guys like myself, and how they produce them and how they make them into better people and better players.”

USC is in the final five for Coe along with Oklahoma, Missouri, Ole Miss and Memphis. Coe said the relationship he’s developed with Muschamp and others on the staff is a big reason for that.

Coe does have virtual tours planned with Missouri, Ole Miss and Oklahoma. Coe is a native of Flossmoor, Ill., and is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 2 defensive tackle prospect in the country. Last season he had 37 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He is on track to graduate in December and will have three years to play two.

USC is in the final 10 with four-star LB Jaydon Hood of Fort Lauderdale. The others on his short list are Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Louisville, South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Vanderbilt and Miami. Hood is ranked as the No. 11 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 48 prospect in Florida for the 2021 class.

USC is in the top six with WR Keon Coleman (6-4, 195) of Opelousas, La. The others in the group are Michigan State, Florida State, Mississippi State, Kansas and Oklahoma. Coleman is a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the 48th best receiver nationally and the No. 8 prospect in Louisiana. Last season he caught 35 passes for 1,143 yards and 22 touchdowns.

CB Damarius McGhee of Pensacola, who has a USC offer, did not include them in his top 12. He listed Indiana, West Virginia, Louisville, Kentucky, N.C. State, Georgia, UAB, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USF.

Clemson is in the final six with SAF Corey Collier (6-2, 170) of Miami. The others are Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Miami. Collier is a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked as the No. 3 safety in the country and the No. 14 prospect in Florida. His father played cornerback at Florida State. Last season Collier had 52 tackles. He broke up 13 passes and grabbed 4 interceptions. He was able to get to junior days at Miami, Florida and Auburn from January thru early March. Clemson also is one of the three favorites of Collier’s teammate, cornerback Jason Marshall.

Clemson is in the top 12 with SAF Andrew Mukuba of Austin, Texas. The others are Texas, Auburn, TCU, Arizona State, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State, LSU, UCLA, Missouri and Arkansas.

Clemson is in the top five with 5-star CB Ga’Quincy McKinstry of Pinson, Ala. The others on his short list are Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and LSU. McKinstry is rated the No. 2 corner in the country and the No. 2 prospect in Alabama in the 247Sports Composite.

USC target CB Khyree Jackson was offered by Alabama and Florida.

Fort Dorchester DB Cameron Mitchell signed with Coastal Carolina for the 2020 class.

Dillon WR Ahmari Huggins named a top 12 of Southern Cal, Baylor, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Louisville, West Virginia, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, TCU, Michigan State and Duke.


Clemson target 6-11 Gabe Wiznitzer of Walhalla and Hargrave Prep, Va., was offered by Kansas State and Wake Forest.

Clemson target 6-4 D’Marco Dunn of Fayetteville, N.C., was offered by North Carolina.

6-4 Jacobi Wright of Legacy Charter, who has a USC offer, was offered by UNC Wilmington.

Clemson offered 2022 6-5 Alphonzo Billups of Richmond.


USC’s top-rated recruit in the 2020 class, outfielder Brandon Fields of Orlando, announced Saturday he is withdrawing his name from the MLB draft and will enroll in school. Fields is ranked No. 31 nationally by Perfect Game. He’s also a running back and had considered playing both sports in college, but he said in his announcement he will focus on baseball.

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