Recruiting Roundup: Clemson coaches making final push for 2018 class


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Justyn Ross will make his final decision on National Signing Day
Justyn Ross will make his final decision on National Signing Day

National Signing Day sits nine days away and while the Clemson coaching staff is out seeing 2019 and 2020 prospects they are also making a final push for the already-stacked 2018 class.

Most of Clemson’s 2018 class has already signed and several of the top recruits are already enrolled and on campus, including Trevor Lawrence, Xavier Thomas, KJ Henry, and Jackson Carman. How many more will Clemson add to this class? It’s hard to say right now because so much depends on which guys choose to come to Clemson.

This coaching staff has proven they would rather have the RIGHT guy rather than just A guy, and they are patient enough to roll scholarships over into to what should be a large 2019 class. However, the coaches are making a final push for the right 2018 guys.

They’ve also saved Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s in-home visits for this week. Swinney is known as “The Closer” and he’ll have the chance to seal the deal with more than one big-time prospect this week.

That includes 5-star wide receiver Justyn Ross out of Phenix City (AL). Ross will announce his college decision at 1 p.m. ET on National Signing Day live on ESPN. Ross has been in the news a lot recently – his family has posted videos of Alabama head coach Nick Saban dancing during an official visit, and Saban visited the workplace of Ross’ mother, Charay Franklin, last week. While at Franklin’s work, he posed for pictures and shook everybody’s hand.

Saban then went in-home last Thursday, Ross visited Auburn this past weekend, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn makes his in-home visit this coming Friday and Dabo Swinney will have his in-home visit this week.

From everything we’ve been told, this is a battle between Alabama and Clemson and the final in-home visit might tell the tale for the Tigers.

The Clemson coaches will also have an in-home this week with 4-star safety Leon O’Neal, whose recruitment has taken some strange turns over the past 10 days. O’Neal was on hand for Clemson’s Junior Day and appeared to have a good time interacting with recruits, coaches and current Tiger players. The visit went so well, in fact, that many thought O’Neal was ready to pull the trigger on a commitment.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media, however. Once word leaked out that O’Neal might be a silent commitment (and no, I don’t understand why some people can’t and don’t grasp the concept of a “silent” commitment, even in the media), the Texas A&M faithful roared the Aggies not only back into contention but into favored status.

Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be in-home with O’Neal this week.

Another big-time prospect the Clemson coaches have saved for Swinney to do an in-home visit with is 4-star offensive tackle Richard Gouraige out of Tampa (FL) Cambridge Christian. Gouriage was on Clemson’s campus a few weeks ago – the visit went well according to what we’ve heard – and he’s visited Ole Miss and Florida recently as well.

New Florida head coach Dan Mullen has had his in-home visit with Gouriage – a Florida "commit" – and preached what every good salesman preaches…..location, location, location. A coach for Gouriage told us that the family is pushing for Gouriage to stay at home and play for the Gators, and that will likely come into play when he makes his decision.

Swinney will visit Gouriage this week.

That leads us to 5-star defensive back Patrick Surtain, Jr. Surtain visited Clemson with members of his family this past weekend, and the Clemson coaching staff will be in-home with Surtain at some point this week. We spoke with Surtain at length while out in Oregon at The Opening back in July, and he mentioned Clemson only after he was asked about the Tigers.

Surtain doesn’t do a lot of interviews, and that lack of a Clemson mention has been the norm. Did the visit to Clemson do enough to put Clemson in the mix? We were told that Surtain had a good time on the visit, and as has been the case since Swinney built his new home, spent time at the head coach’s house Saturday. Swinney has a basketball court and a game room, and it’s a chance for the recruits to get away from campus and spent time with each other and the coaches.

Surtain wasn’t the only visitor of note this past weekend - 4-star cornerback Mario Goodrich of Lee’s Summit (MO) Lee’s Summit West was in town with his family. It was the final official visit for Goodrich, who was expected to host Swinney at his home in Missouri Monday morning.

I spoke with someone close to the situation who said the staff rolled out the proverbial red carpet for Goodrich and his family, and that early playing time was a prime message along with Clemson’s family feel.


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