Here we are again, on the doorstep of National Signing Day. With most of the hay in the barn for Clemson due to the first-ever early signing period back in December, Wednesday is a chance for the Tigers to put the final touches on its 2018 class. The staff got most of the heavy lifting out of the way, signing 15 in December , and 9 of those are already on campus and taking part in winter conditioning drills in preparation for spring practice next March.
The time has flown by since the early signing period that saw the bulk of the Tigers 2018 class already jump on board and proclaim to be All In. With a few unfilled needs and the additional space on the roster resulting from early attrition to the NFL and transfers, the Tigers still have their needs at DB, OL and WR that are being sought here in the last hours of the 2018 recruiting cycle.
The Tigers will be anxiously awaiting announcements from 5-star WR Justyn Ross, OL Richard Gouriage, LB Dax Hollifield and DB's Mario Goodrich, Leon O'Neal, Patrick Surtain, and Trevon Flowers, all ready to make their pledges this week.
As of today, here is where we feel the Tigers stand with each prospect…
It’s a two-team race with a third team just there for the optics of the event. It's truly down to Clemson and Alabama with Auburn on the outside looking in. Alabama has gained a lot of momentum in this recruitment over the winter months. With Ross's Clemson Official Visit coming in late November for The Citadel game, it has left a lot of time and space for things to get clouded, and they have. Not only has the Crimson Tide returned to the top of the College Football world, but the leading WR for the in-state Tide, Calvin Ridley, declared early for the NFL Draft, making instant playing time a factor. Clemson has been in constant contact with Ross, and both lead recruiter Jeff Scott and Coach Todd Bates, who covers the state for the staff, have been in to visit the Phoenix City star. Coach Swinney also made his last-ditch pitch over the past few days with an all-day stop there earlier in the week with stops at Ross's school, his mother’s work and their home that night.
If you ask us today, as we go into this signing day, it’s Alabama that is ringing true for Ross’s signature. Word has it that proximity and a lot of local influence has the Crimson Tide leading here. Toss in Calvin Ridley's timing to declare for the NFL, and we feel Alabama edges out the Tigers. Clemson is still a factor, and we are not making a projection either way, but if we put our confidence in percentage terms, it’s currently 60% Alabama and 40% Clemson.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: I am hearing from an inside source in the state of Alabama close to Justyn that Clemson may be happy tomorrow. However, that is from one of many sources, and so far that is the only one I have heard pointing to the Tigers. As you know, anything can and will happen on NSD, so stay tuned! Ross will make his announcement live on ESPN2 at 1:00 ET, and we’ll have it for you right here.
The big-time lineman from Florida is still committed to the Gators, and it’s down to the Tigers of Clemson, the in-state Gators and the Tigers of Auburn for the big fella. As of today, it looks like the Gators are going to keep the big man in-state, as Dan Mullen and the new staff has shored up his commitment, and Gouriage's family has let it be known that distance is a factor as far as they’re concerned.
Gouriage is nother player that really loved his Clemson visit in January and was given a lot to think about, but we believe the in-state Gators and new coach Dan Mullen are going to grant mama's wishes and keep the All-American tackle close to home.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
As for the defensive backs on the Tigers’ board, it was down to four DB’s last week. The two high-tier, high-profile players were Patrick Surtain and Leon O'Neal. The intel we had on both of these had Clemson on the outside looking in. Surtain will likely pick long-time leader and favorite LSU, and O'Neal just committed to Texas A&M as we believed he would. For a brief time after his Clemson visit, O'Neal hinted it was Clemson leading for his services, but that was quickly eradicated when the A&M staff and influences around O'Neal got busy. Then the Alabama visit happened, and when it was all said and done the Tigers finished third for O’Neal.
Then comes Mario Goodrich, the stud DB out of Missouri. It's down to the Tigers and Georgia, with LSU and Nebraska still in the mix for the former Cornhusker commit. We have good intel on this one and can project Goodrich to Clemson as of this writing. The word is the deal was done after Swinney and staff made a visit to Missouri earlier this week on Monday. Since then, he has shut down his recruitment and did not take any visits anywhere over the weekend. Look for Goodrich to sign with the Tigers on Wednesday. We feel Clemson has put in a good case to Goodrich and his family and will win out over LSU and UGA on this one. Stay tuned right here at 8:30 a.m. ET for the big announcement!
Mario Goodrich and Family
It’s down to #Clemson, #UGA and #LSU for @_MG3__, and he announces at 7:30 a.m. CT TOMORROW on @KCWE_TV & @KMBC's Facebook page (https://t.co/ZeyYUY0jej) #NSD18 #SigningDay #SigningDay18 pic.twitter.com/FMqIuCYQjG— Jeremy Crabtree KMBC (@jeremycrabtree) February 6, 2018
Mario Goodrich and father with Brent Venables and CB Coach Mike Reed
Finally, there is late-rising Georgia product Trevon Flowers. The late bloomer who has only one season of high school football under his belt was awe-struck on the visit to Clemson mid=week and is fresh off a trip to Rocky Top to visit the Volunteers. This one is gonna come down to how the visit to Knoxville transpired, but I can tell you the Clemson staff felt very confident following his recent visit, and going into the weekend, they could count on adding Flowers to this class. If you asked for a percentage on this one, I would have said 75-25 in favor of the Tigers last week before he headed to Knoxville. Since the Tennessee trip, however, we are projecting him to the Vols, who were the first to offer him after his de-commitment from Kentucky. We feel the two-sport star is Knoxville bound.
This one has been interesting, to say the least. At one time, Dax was very keen on getting a Clemson offer. But when the staff reached out to Hollifield earlier in the recruiting year and alerted him that there may not be room for him in this class, it sent the Shelby, NC product looking around for another school to call home. He has been to UNC, Virginia Tech and Stanford. We were told the Stanford trip was underwhelming and that UNC, his father’s alma mater, picked up a lot of ground on Virginia Tech in the last few weeks. Clemson has reached back out to Dax in the past couple weeks with an offer and had the big-time bruiser on campus with his family shortly after. However, Clemson's last-minute overtures may not be enough to overcome the months of disconnect here, but you never know. If Clemson would have been in it from the start—rather than taking the two linebacker commits as early as they did—the Tigers could have Dax already in the fold, but their late pursuit of Hollifield is working against them. Clemson does have working in its favor the fact that Dax made an unannounced visit to hang out with his Shrine Bowl roommate, K.J. Henry, on his birthday. He spent the whole day with the entire cast of characters that enrolled early from the 2018 class, and word has it that Henry has been pushing hard for Dax to join him in Tiger Town.
Anything can happen, but we feel it’s Virginia Tech and Clemson in the lead with UNC and Stanford on the outside. But we remind you, it's recruiting and nothing will ever surprise us. Just look at Jackson Carman as a great example! Dax will make his announcement at 11:00 ET Wednesday morning, and we’ll have the news for you right here.
Stay tuned here at CUTigers.com tomorrow for breaking news, as the final pieces to this 2018 class are added. After we wrap this one up, we can all look forward to learning the names of the 2019 offers and start looking ahead another recruiting year! Happy National Signing Day!
Never miss the latest news from CUTigers!
Join our free email list