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Kornblut: Clemson football still waiting on two major signee decisions

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NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson (copy)

Clemson players run down the hill before their game against Syracuse, Oct 24, 2020; Clemson is waiting on Korey Foreman and Tristan Leigh to make recruiting decisions. Ken Ruinard/ACC pool photo

Clemson secured another highly ranked recruiting class Wednesday with 18 signees. There were no surprises for the Tigers on National Signing Day as they inked all 18 of their previously committed players.

Typical of the wackiness in recruiting for 2020, Dabo Swinney said he’s yet to meet in person two of his signees, Andrew Mukuba and Nathaniel Wiggins.

The Tigers’ class is ranked seventh by Rivals, which breaks the class down with one five-star, 14 four-stars and three three-star recruits. 247Sports ranks Clemson fifth with two five-stars, 14 four-stars and two three-stars among the signees.

Clemson still has room for a couple of more signees, and the Tigers are waiting on a pair of Jan. 2nd announcements from DE Korey Foreman of Corona, Calif., and OT Tristan Leigh of Fairfax, Va. Foreman actually signed Wednesday. Clemson, Southern Cal, Arizona State and LSU were considered the strongest schools with him.

Leigh will sign in February and has had Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama and Ohio State among his top schools.

In other recruiting news:

USC has plenty of work ahead to complete its 2021 class. The Gamecocks signed eight of their 10 commitments on Wednesday. DE TJ Sanders decided to wait until February but said he’s still committed to USC.

And WR Derwin Burgess, who never announced a decommitment, ended up signing with Georgia Southern.

A key signing day miss for the Gamecocks was DE Byron Young of Georgia Military JC and Carvers Bay. The Gamecocks made a big push for him, but he signed with Tennessee.

USC target DE Jimmori Robinson of Monroe JC in New York announced a commitment to Texas-San Antonio. He will not sign until February.

New USC head coach Shane Beamer will be scouring the transfer portal and junior colleges for some immediate help: 13 spots in the class are accounted four when including the four current Gamecocks who account against the 2021 class. It appears Beamer will pick up another junior college corner on Friday when Isaiah Norris of TL Hanna and Georgia Military makes his announcement.

Norris had been committed to Middle Tennessee State, and had also picked up offers from Tennessee and Washington State. Norris played in 2019 at New Mexico Military JC and had five interceptions. He will not play this spring for GMA and will focus on his grades so he can leave in the spring.

Another spot could go to SAF Juwon Gaston (5-11, 187) of Montgomery, Ala. He was offered by the Gamecocks recently and considers them the favorite at this point over Tennessee and Charlotte.

“I was surprised about the offer from South Carolina,” Gaston said.  “They’ve been recruiting me since my senior season.  Coach Drew (Hughes) has been talking to me.  Coach Beamer made the offer.  I talked to him, too.  Coach Beamer said he really liked me.  He needed a player l like me in the locker room, an enforcer.  And he likes the way I return punts and kickoffs.”

Gaston said he wasn’t ready to sign this week because he’s just now getting this major offers and he needs more time to develop relationships. “I’m just trying to get closer to the coaches,” Gaston said.  “Make sure everything is right and it feels like home.  I feel really good about South Carolina.  They’ve been showing a lot of love.  I like them. They are standing out the most because they communicate with me the most.” Gaston said it’s possible he could make a decision and a commitment before February.

Gaston was one of the top safeties in Alabama this season with 98 tackles and 5 interceptions. He was chosen to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

LB Trevin Wallace (6-2 217) of Jessup, Ga., decommitted from Boston College November 29th and now has a top four of USC, Mississippi, Kentucky and Auburn. The Gamecocks had recruited Wallace under Will Muschamp but didn’t get him.

They’ve gotten a reprieve with his decommitment and with a new head coach. Shane Beamer was on the phone with him Sunday. “I hear from coach Beamer a lot, a whole bunch,” Wallace said.  “He told me that he was at Oklahoma and he’s heard that they had thought highly about me.  And now that he’s at South Carolina, he’s heard the same thing.  Plus, he’s talked to me before and he said I’m a good kid, I’m humble, I’ve got a good spirit, and he said wherever I go I’m going to be productive there.”

Wallace is highly interested again in USC with Beamer at the helm. He’s also talking with linebackers coach Rod Wilson and the two have gotten closer thru the process. “We’ve got a great relationship,” Wallace said.  “We talk a lot and sometimes it’s not even about football,  It’s about life and staying humble.  He said to stay humble, keep your head right, get your education, get your degree and the sky is the limit for you.” It appears this time around the Gamecocks will have a good shot at closing the deal with Wallace. And they have time since he isn’t signing until February.

Wallace is a four-star in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked the #13 inside linebacker nationally in the class.

North Myrtle Beach DE Chase Simmons (6-4, 250) has a blueshirt offer from Coastal Carolina, meaning his scholarship there would come from the 2022 class. He did not sign Wednesday. Simmons said he’s talked with Beamer, and also is hearing from USC linebackers coach Rod Wilson, and he’s under consideration for an offer from the Gamecocks. He also has offers from Georgia State, VMI, Charlotte, Furman, Akron and Kent State.

Simmons said he remains “stuck on Coastal” right now. He likes the program and the fact it’s close to home. He’s also hearing from Tennessee, Syracuse, Michigan State, Mississippi and Auburn. Simmons had around 50 tackles and 11 sacks this season.

USC may have some interest in former Illinois WR Ricky Smalling (6-1, 205). The Chicago native did not play this season and is in the transfer portal. In his career with the Illini he had 88 catches for 1141 yards and 8 touchdowns.

USC has some interest in Georgia Tech transfer WR Ahmarean Brown (5-10, 170). The sophomore from Tampa caught 32 passes for 579 yards and 8 TDs in 2 seasons with Tech. USF also is interested.

USC is among those listed here as having interest in former Alabama and ECU DB Nigel Knott.

USC target WR Qua Davis of Itawamba JC, Miss., committed to Mississippi.

One time USC target CB Dontae Balfour of Starke, Fla., will wait until February to sign. He's picked up several major offers in recent weeks in Tennessee, Oregon, Missouri and Auburn.

Blythewood SAF Jordan Burrell, who has an offer from Army, did not sign last week. He's looking at February with the hope for more offers to consider.

AC Flora TE Banks Pope, who was once committed to Appalachian State, will walk-on at Clemson.

DE Elijah Davis of Wagener-Salley is talking with East Mississippi JC and Iowa Western JC.

Former Furman QB Darren Grainger was offered by Georgia State.

Carolina Forest WR/QB Kyle Watkins committed to Wofford.

2022 WR Adam Randall of Myrtle Beach will make his college commitment announcement Friday. He said he made his decision from the group of Clemson, USC, Oregon and Tennessee. Some of his other offers were Louisville, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, LSU, Miami and Florida State.

“Their reaction was excitement because they have been recruiting me for a long time,” Randall said. “They are just really excited that I will be coming in to make a big impact on their program. My reasoning was this school has showed me a lot of love since the beginning. I’ve created a real connection with the coaches there. It just felt home to me. They are really good at receiver and they throw the ball around. They would move me around to different positions because they think I have the talent to play the slot and outside, which is what I primarily play. They are thinking about moving me around and make me fit anywhere in the offense where I can produce.”

Randall said only the school he’s chosen knows of his decision. He has developed a strong relationship in particular with Clemson receivers coach Tyler Grisham who he has grown to know through camp experiences at Clemson. This season Randall finished with 46 catches for 1009 yards and 9 touchdowns despite playing with a high ankle sprain throughout the playoffs. He is rated as a four-star in the 247Sports Composite and will enroll in college in January of 2022.

2022 4-star WR Amarion Brown (6-3, 180) of Stuart, Fla., named a top 10 of USC, Miami, Florida State, Oregon, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State and Rutgers. In 2019 he had 30 catches for 450 yards and 4 touchdowns.

USC is included in the top 12 with 2022 SAF Tre Donaldson (6-2, 190) of Tallahassee. The others are Georgia, Alabama, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Miami, Florida State, Oregon, Kentucky, Auburn and Florida.

USC offered 2022 ATH Antonio Kite (6-2, 180) of Anniston, Ala., and 2023 LB Raylen Wilson (6-1, 190) of Tallahassee.

Clemson is among the top 10 with 2022 DE Shemar Stewart of Miami. The others are LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, Penn State, Florida and Arizona State.

2022 WR Antonio Williams of Dutch Fork was offered by Michigan State and West Virginia.