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Race to National Signing Day for 2022 football recruiting class underway

ACC Preview Football (copy)

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doesn't hold official recruiting visits over the summer, opting instead for unofficial visits.

The green flag drops June 1, starting the race to National Signing Day on Dec. 15 for the 2022 football recruiting class.

There have been warmup laps for months, ever since the NCAA sanctioned a COVID-related dead period in March 2020. Recruiting has continued in a variety of ways, but June 1 will be the first day of the new live period, which will allow for official and unofficial visits and camp stops.

Many schools will use June for official visits. Count South Carolina among those, and count Clemson out. The Gamecocks have loaded up with about 20 official visits spread out through the month and many more unofficial visits. The first ones are scheduled for June 7 with DT Felix Hixon and RB Ramon Brown. The Gamecocks will hold mini-camps June 3, 4, 5, 11, 13 and 19; linemen camps and 7 on 7 events on June 17, 18, 24 and 25; and a specialist camp on June 19.

Clemson will stick to its policy of no summer official visits, saving all for the fall, but the Tigers will host numerous recruits for unofficial visits and camp workouts. One of the first to be on campus will be safety Deuce Caldwell of Mauldin, who plans to make an unofficial visit Tuesday. The Tigers are planning a major event for the weekend of June 11-13, which has been dubbed the “Elite Retreat.” They will have camp sessions on June 2, 3, 5, 6, 10 and 11.

In other recruiting news:

S Nick Cull (5-11, 175) of Donalsonville, Ga., was offered by USC in mid-March, and he’s being heavily recruited by Shane Beamer and Torrian Gray. Their effort and passion in recruiting Cull is working because he plans to take an official visit with them in June on a date to be determined around his mother’s work schedule.

“I’ve been hearing from them ever since they offered me,” Cull said. “I’ve pretty much been talking with coach Gray and the head coach, coach Beamer. I hear from coach Gray pretty much every day. I can talk to coach Beamer anytime. I can give him a call, and he’ll answer. We talk pretty much daily.”

Cull said all those conversations have led to a bonding between him and the Gamecocks coaches. “Very close, very tight,” Cull said. “We’re building a close relationship. It’s great. I like how we consistently communicate. I like what they are recruiting me for. And Jaycee Horn was my favorite. He’s my role model right now.”

Cull said Gray sees a lot of the traits that made Horn a first-round draft pick last month in him. “He just loves my versatility and my physicality,” Cull said. “How I can play more than one position on the field. I’m primarily a safety, but I can play corner, too. It doesn’t really matter.”

Cull has an official visit to Miami set for June 18 and plans to visit Miami unofficially June 1. He also cites Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi as his top schools along with USC. Other offers for Cull include Georgia Tech, Indiana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Nebraska, LSU, Marshall, Florida State, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and Coastal Carolina. Cull is rated a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite, where he is ranked as the No. 44 cornerback nationally.

Four-star DE Jihaad Campbell (6-4, 220) of Sicklerville, N.J., and IMG Academy in Florida, is set to hit the road in June with official visits to several schools and an unofficial visit to Clemson. Campbell and his family will arrive at Clemson on June 7 and spend the next day touring around the campus and meeting with the coaches.

Leading up to the visit, Campbell said the communication with Clemson has remained strong.

“I’ve been talking to coach Lemanski Hall, coach (Brent) Venables, coach (Dabo) Swinney and coach (Todd Bates), too,” Campbell said. “Mostly, I’d say the whole defensive staff. They are just saying that they are all-in, I’m a main priority and they want me there.

The Clemson coaches have done a good job selling what they have to offer to Campbell, because as he goes into his visits, the Tigers are leading the rest of the field. “I’d say they are number one, at the top of my board,” Campbell said.

“It’s all the communication with their coaches, it’s real genuine. They speak real thoughts; they just don’t tell me things. Everything feels real.”

Which, of course, brings up the question to Campbell: Could a commitment to Clemson happen on the visit?

“We’ll have to see,” Campbell said. “We’ll have to wait and see. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Campbell has had official visits scheduled to Florida on June 4, Georgia on June 18 and Texas A&M on June 25. He also mentioned Alabama and Ohio State for potential official visits. He’s also had Oklahoma, Rutgers and Penn State in his top eight. Campbell is rated a four-star in the 247Sports Composite and ranked the No. 9 strongside defensive end nationally. According to MaxPreps, in six games last season Campbell recorded 45 tackles with seven sacks. He also caught 15 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

S Ashton Whitner (6-0, 188) of Greenville High has offers from Syracuse, West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, Furman, Indiana, Army, Tulane, Penn, Marshall, Howard, Miami of Ohio, Jacksonville State, Princeton, North Carolina A&T and Akron. From that group, he’s communicating the most with Syracuse, West Virginia, Princeton and Army.

Whitner has official visits set with Syracuse on June 18 and West Virginia on June 25, and those two are his top two as he approaches the camp and visit month of June. Two of his camp stops will be USC and Clemson, where he hopes to impress the coaches enough to earn an offer. His camp stop at USC will be June 11.

“I talked to coach (Torrian) Gray a few weeks ago, but we haven’t been constantly texting or talking or anything like that,” Whitner said. “I think once they see how I show up and show out in camp and see what they see on film and in person, then they’ll probably offer me. They were the first school to let me visit and have a good game day experience (Alabama, 2019) to see how a college game atmosphere is like.”

Clemson also has been showing enough interest in Whitner to bring him in for a camp look, and he visited for the Florida State game in 2019. An offer from the Tigers, he said, would simply blow him away.

“Childhood dream,” Whitner said. “I’ve been wanting to play for Clemson since I was about 6. That would be major. I haven’t talked to Clemson a lot. I haven’t talked to any of their coaches, but I’ve talked to one of their recruiters. I set up an unofficial visit on the day that I camp, too.”

Michigan and Tennessee also have been showing increasing interest in Whitner. “They’ve just got to get the head coach to watch my film when they get from break, and nine times out of 10 I’ll get the offer, and we can just keep building the relationship from there,” he said.

Whitner, who also can play corner or nickel, said he also will make camp stops at Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and North Carolina. He plans to make a decision the week of his first game

USC was one of the first major programs to offer LB EJ Lightsey (6-2, 210) of Fitzgerald, Ga., and he plans to reward the Gamecocks for their interest with a visit. The type and the date are still to be determined as he communicates with head coach Shane Beamer and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Clayton White.

“I’m supposed to come to South Carolina for an unofficial, but I don’t have a date yet,” Lightsey said. “I think they want me to take an official during the season on a game weekend, but we haven’t figured out when that’s going to be.”

Lightsey said he has official visits scheduled with Georgia Tech on June 11 and Florida on June 18. LSU and Auburn are two others he’s looking at for official visits. The Gamecocks are fighting with those four programs and a couple of others for Lightsey’s attention.

“They were the first ones to offer. Ever since then, South Carolina has been one of my top schools,” he said. “I don’t have all the way down to the top three yet, but I’ve got a top seve: Florida, Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and Georgia Tech.”

Lightsey said he doesn’t plan to make a decision until his season. That could come early in the schedule or around the middle of the season. Last season, Lightsey recorded 111 total tackles with 13 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

TE Jaleel Skinner (6-5, 200) of Greer is regarded as one of the top tight end prospects nationally and one of the state’s top recruits for the 2022 class. Last week, he announced a top 10 that includes Clemson but does not include USC. The Tigers, with new tight ends coach Tony Elliott, have made a big push for Skinner. The Gamecocks showed a lot of interest under the Muschamp coaching staff, but the interest dropped off after Beamer took over. The Gamecocks are focusing a lot of their attention on another tight end, Oscar Delp of Georgia. Skinner had been working with a list of 14 schools. Now he’s down to Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Florida State, Miami, LSU, Oregon, Arizona State and Oklahoma. He plans to visit Clemson the weekend of June 11 for the Elite Retreat, and he has set an official visit to Miami for June 25.

WR CJ Smith (6-3, 180) of Orlando, Fla., is one of the top track performers in Florida, and he’s moving quickly with his recruiting process. On May 30 he announced another shortening of his list, which is now down to a top five from a top 10. Surviving the cut were USC, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi. Auburn was one of the big losers here because the Tigers had Smith scheduled for an official visit June 25. He now has officials set with Arkansas on June 4, USC on June 11 and Florida on June 18. Last week, Smith was offered by Alabama and Notre Dame.

WR Andre Greene Jr. of Richmond plans to take an unofficial visit to Clemson on June 10. He’s got official visits planned with Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon in June and one to Notre Dame in October. He also plans unofficial visits to Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas, Florida State, Penn State, Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia.

Clemson and USC target TE Oscar Delp of Cumming, Ga., will take an unofficial visit to Alabama on June 1. He will take an unofficial visit to Clemson on June 3 and an official visit to USC on June 25. He also has official visits set with Georgia on June 4, Florida on June 11 and Michigan on June 14.

Five-star DE Shemar Stewart (6-5, 236) of Opa Locka, Fla., will be at Clemson on June 17 and USC on June 18 as part of a series of visits with several of his teammates from Monsignor Prep in Miami.

2024 QB Adrian Posse (6-4, 205) plans to make stops to Clemson on June 17 and USC on June 18 as part of his June travels.

2023 DE Derrick Leblanc of Kissimmee, Fla., plans to visit Clemson on June 2.

2023 ATH Treyaun Webb of Jacksonville will visit Clemson on June 11.

USC last week offered 2023 DE Troy Ford Jr. (6-1, 235) of Savannah. Ford is a high-profile prospect with a four-star rating by 247Sports. He’s ranked the No. 32 strongside defensive end nationally for his class. Yet, his offer from the Gamecocks late last week caught him by surprise.

“Some of the coaches started following me, and I received some camp invites and a prospect form, so I knew they were interested but did not think they would offer me yet,” Ford said. “I was blown away and so grateful that they believe in me to offer me this early. I can’t wait to get there in June to visit.”

Ford said he first communicated with new USC defensive analyst Joe Bowen. He called him last Thursday and Bowen turned the conversation over to defensive coordinator Clayton White. “He said he liked how aggressive and fast I play the game, that my style of playing can match their defense,” Ford said. “This offer is very special. it’s SEC so they have the best competition in the nation, and it is close to home. It’s only a couple of hours from my house.” Ford said he will visit USC June 5 and Georgia Tech on June 22. The Yellow Jackets also have offered along with Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

USC offered OT Cason Henry (6-6, 290) of Marietta, Ga. He’s rated a 3-star in the 247Sports Composite. Some other offers are Georgia Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Following teammates from Chaminade-Madonna HS in Hollywood Fla., reported offers from USC on Twitter: 2024 RB Davion Gause (5-10, 197); 2024 ATH Zaquan Patterson (6-0, 165); 2025 DB Chris Ewald Jr. (6-0, 161).

2024 WR Zycarl Lewis Jr. (6-0, 145) of Tampa, Fla., was offered by USC. He also has a Florida State offer.

2023 OT Markee Anderson of Dorman was offered by Arkansas.

2024 QB Jadyn Davis of Catawba Ridge was offered by Tennessee.

Basketball

Four-star 6-6 SF Josh Reed of Atlanta is now on the radar of USC and Clemson. Gamecocks assistant coach Will Bailey started to recruit Reed the end of last year. Clemson assistant coach Antonio Reynolds-Dean made contact with him about a month ago. Both programs offered him a couple of weeks ago.

“Coach (Frank) Martin called a month ago and introduced himself, and coach Bailey has been calling and texting a lot, recruiting me that way,” Reed said. “Also, my mom is from South Carolina (Rock Hill), so she was excited about that one. I know coach Martin is a really good coach. I like the program a lot. I like the facilities. It’s kind of close to home. And my grandma lives there (Rock Hill) right now, so if I go there, she’ll be able to come and watch a lot of games.”

Reed puts the Gamecocks in a high spot in his recruiting at this point.

“I’m really interested in them, so they are probably towards the top,” Reed said. “They are probably towards the top. I really like the coaches and the program a lot.”

He has similar feelings for the Clemson program.

“I like Clemson a lot,” Reed said. “They’ve been recruiting me for the past month now. I’ve been talking to coach Dean a lot. He just called me the other day to say he’s going to offer me (which he did). I think I will fit in well. Coach Dean said the same thing. He said I am really versatile, and I’ll be able to fit in well with their program. I like them a lot.”

He also has offers from Iona, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Boston College, Xavier, Tulane, Rice, Georgia Mason, Penn, Florida Gulf Coast, Winthrop, High Point and Mercer. Reed said there are no leaders at this point, and he will take visits in June, July, August and September. He plans to sign in November. Last season, Reed averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. He’s ranked the No. 34 small forward nationally in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 7 prospect in Georgia.

6-5 Lewis Duarte, who attends Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte, plans to take an unofficial visit to USC on June 1. The Gamecocks recently offered. He also has offers from Creighton, Illinois, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Washington State and Rutgers. He’s rated a three-star and ranked the No. 31 shooting guard nationally in the 2022 class in the 247Sports Composite.

USC offered 6-9 Dom Campbell of Exeter, NH. Notre Dame also recently offered. He also has offers from Albany, Brown, Holy Cross, Howard and Lehigh.

6-6 AJ Storr of Rockford, IL was offered by USC. He committed to Illinois in April and decommitted May 13. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, DePaul, LSU, Creighton and Mississippi are some other offers. He’s rated a 3-star by 247Sports.

USC offered 2023 SF 6-7 Brandon Gardner of Gray Collegiate in Columbia. He also has offers from Clemson, Illinois, Winthrop, Upstate, Texas A&M, DePaul, Georgetown and Murray State.

USC offered 2024 guard Del Jones of Arlington, VA.

Charleston Southern men’s basketball officially signed Cheikh Faye, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky. Faye is a 6-7 wing from Senegal who spent his 2020-21 season at Eastern Kentucky after spending two seasons at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla.

Rivals updated its top 100 basketball prospects for the 2022 class. Jazian Gortman of Keenan is ranked No. 13 nationally, and Julian Phillips of Blythewood is ranked 21st.

Baseball

Former Citadel baseball standout INF Tyler Corbitt, who hit .347 in 93 career games with the Bulldogs, has committed to play at Clemson, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. He will be a grad transfer with two seasons left.

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