Here’s the third installment of my prediction for who I think Clemson takes on defense. Most of the defense is set, but there are a few spots — notably at defensive end and defensive back — where the Tigers could add high-caliber players.
A couple of those targets are going to decide and sign during the early signing period that starts Dec. 20, so by the time the next version of this comes out, it could — and probably will — look different, depending on how things shake out there.
There’s only one major change from the second version thanks to developments among other targets.
A few things to remember:
- Asterisks indicate a commit.
- The projection numbers aren’t the only thing Clemson is looking for. They’re more of an educated guess, because the coaching staff doesn’t let me see their big board.
- These will publish once a month, probably sticking with the routine of going either at the end or at the start.
- All ratings are per the 247Sports composite.
- 5-star SDE Xavier Thomas*, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla): Thomas is the headliner on defense in the same way Trevor Lawrence is on the other side of the ball. He’s an extremely vocal supporter and leader, and he’s been doing everything he can to attract more top talent to Clemson.
- 4-star WDE Justin Mascoll*, South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.): Mascoll is one of several U.S. Army All-Americans committed to Clemson, and he’s going to bring valuable talent and depth to the line.
- 4-star DT Josh Belk*, Lewisville (Richburg, S.C.): Belk is an interesting prospect. He’s got explosiveness and speed, which can allow him to be used in a variety of ways. It’s weird to say this about a 4-star recruit, but I think Belk is underrated and will be a big-time player at Clemson.
- 3-star DT Darnell Jefferies*, Newton (Covington, Ga.): Jeffries is ecstatic to be coming to Clemson and can’t wait to get there. He’s got plenty of talent now, but when he gets on campus and bulks up even more, he’s going to be one to watch out for.
- 5-star WDE K.J. Henry, West Forsyth (Clemmons, N.C.): Henry is going to be an early signee, and he’s through most of his official visits with a trip to Alabama still to come. Clemson rolled out the red carpet for him during his time in Death Valley earlier in November, and the Tigers have to like where they’re at with him.
- 4-star OLB Mike Jones, Jr.*, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): Xavier Thomas’ teammate at IMG was in Clemson along with Thomas plus another teammate for the Auburn game. He’s been among the most vocal recruiters to other guys in an effort to try and convince them to join the ranks at Clemson.
- 3-star OLB Jake Venables*, Daniel (Central, S.C.): The son of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables played well for Daniel this year, and he was a semifinalist for the High School Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
- 4-star CB Kyler McMichael*, Greater Atlanta Christian (Norcross, Ga.): Much ado was made not too long ago about McMichael’s potentially shaky commitment to Clemson, but he’s firm with the Tigers. He’s got an enticing skill set that allows him to play in a multitude of positions on both sides of the field.
- 3-star CB Nigel Bethel Jr, Northwestern (Miami): Bethel is committed to Florida for now, but a de-commitment seems to be imminent. Clemson has expressed interest, so with the Tigers’ other top targets at DB trending elsewhere, Bethel could be a solid pickup in the next tier.
The post Mock Class 3.0: Projecting Clemson’s recruiting class on defense appeared first on Diehards.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.