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Clemson, USC still have work to do after dead period

Phil Kornblut
Posted 12/28/19

We've hit the pause button on the football recruiting scene until the middle of January. With the early signing period ending last Friday, the dead period gives coaches and unsigned recruits a bit of a breather before things go live again on Jan. …

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Clemson, USC still have work to do after dead period


We've hit the pause button on the football recruiting scene until the middle of January. With the early signing period ending last Friday, the dead period gives coaches and unsigned recruits a bit of a breather before things go live again on Jan. 17. There can be telephone, text and social media contact, but no person-to-person meetings.

It also gives coaches a chance to take stock of where they are in building their 2020 classes. For Clemson, that means owning the No. 1 ranked recruiting class.

For the first time, Clemson achieved that high status from the recruiting websites. It did so by signing six 5-star rated recruits and 11 4-stars out of their 24 signees, according to the 247Sports team ranking composite.

And Clemson isn't done with this class. It is hopeful of adding wide receiver Xzavier Henderson of Miami. He took an official visit a few weekend ago and plans an announcement on Jan.4 at the U.S. Army All-American Game. He also has Louisiana State, Georgia and Alabama on his short list.

Clemson no doubt would take defensive end Jordan Burch of Hammond in Columbia if he were to decide to flip from his commitment to South Carolina. That is not expected to happen as it's believed the sole reason Burch did not sign early with USC was so he could wait until the February signing date and participate in a signing event with his teammates.

However, Burch still has two official visits he can take, and he has not used one on Clemson or USC.

If recruiting rankings foretell the future, Clemson's Atlantic Coast Conference dominance should continue for years to come. The highest rated class in the ACC after Clemson's is Miami at No. 16. And in Clemson's Atlantic Division, it would be Florida State at No. 21.

As for the rest of the top 10 classes behind Clemson in the 247 composite, they are Alabama, Ohio State, UGA, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.

Clemson is in the top 10 with linebacker Deontae Lawson of Mobile, Ala. The others are Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, UGA, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, LSU and A&M.


Burch gave USC its only 5-star recruit in the class. According to the 247 composite, USC signed seven 4-star players. USC is ranked 16th by the 247 composite, and if that holds or improves, this will be the highest rated class brought to USC by head coach Will Muschamp.

USC signed 17 players, with two of their transfers counting in the class. It has room to sign six more in February. Burch and defensive lineman teammate Alex Huntley would account for two of those spots. Four other commitments did not sign last week - WR Da'Quon Stewart, running back Za'Quandre White, punter Kai Kroger and placekicker Mitch Jeter. Potentially the two kickers could wait on August enrollment and count toward the '21 class.

USC also has WR Ger-Cari Caldwell of Northwestern High in Rock Hill still up on the board. The Shrine Bowler plans to take an official visit to USC on Jan. 17. He has taken official visits to Wake Forest and Baylor.

USC may also continue to work DE Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn. He's an Oklahoma commitment who did not sign last week, but he did tweet that he's solid with his commitment and shutting down his recruiting.

Seven Southeastern Conference teams are ranked ahead of USC in the 247 composite, and three of them are in the SEC Eastern Division.

Hammond LB/fullback Bradley Dunn received a walk-on offer from USC.

Gaffney High School DL Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins plans to visit USC on Jan. 18. He has a USC offer.

USC recently offered '21 DL Nick Barrett (6-feet-4-inches, 320 pounds) of Goldsboro, N.C.

"They told me that they like what they saw on film," Barrett said.

Barrett visited unofficially for the Clemson game. "My experience for the visit went good," he said. "But what stood out to me the most was how we rode the bus to the stadium. I haven't been to too many different colleges, so that was a first for me. Another thing that stood out to me was the facility. Also, the staff was good. I felt comfortable around them, and any questions that I asked were answered."

He also has offers from Tennessee, Duke and Liberty.

USC also has offered defensive back Myzel Williams of Deland, Fla., athlete Damarius McGhee of Pensacola, Fla., LB Trenilyas Tatum of Morrow, Ga., RB Jaylin White of Dothan, Ala., DT Taleeq Robbins of Philadelphia, DE Victoine Brown of Loganville, Ga., '22 LB Jalon Walker of Salisbury, N.C, '22 ATH Enai White of Philadelphia and '22 tight end Jake Johnson of Bogart, Ga.

USC DE target Gereme Spraggins was offered by Arkansas.


New USC offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo jumped right into recruiting mode when he arrived in Columbia. The '20 QB was set in Luke Doty, so he turned his attention to the '21 prospects.

One that has been a fixture on the USC board is Colten Gauthier of Dacula, Ga. He has an offer and has visited, and Bobo quickly reached out to him.

"I have been DM-ing and texting Coach Bobo," Gauthier said. "Talking about getting me there ASAP, sometime in January. I don't think anything has changed. I had a great relationship with (former USC QB) Coach (Dan) Werner. I enjoy the campus and the school and think their program is headed in the right direction."

Clemson also is a player with Gauthier. He visited there a couple of times during the season and QB coach Brandon Streeter scouted one of his games. Clemson has not offered but he is under consideration.

"I speak to Coach Streeter every week," Gauthier said. "As you know, their process is different than most schools. He has been to one of my games, and he loved what he saw. They have three 2021 kids they are evaluating right know and I am one of them, and I am high on the list. They probably won't make a decision until February."

As for what's ahead, Gauthier has his recruiting mapped out. "My plan is to continue to go through the process, attend some junior days and hopefully have it narrowed down," he said. "As far as a decision, I would like to definitely have a decision sooner than later. All the schools have continued to recruit me hard -- Clemson, Ole Miss (Mississippi), Oklahoma State, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Syracuse, UCF (Central Florida), Colorado, Baylor, Florida State, Texas Tech, LSU, Virginia Tech, Memphis, Kentucky, Duke and Tennessee. There are a couple that have my high interest."

And Gauthier has some specific boxes he wants checked by the school he chooses.

"Can I still go to this university without football, the offense, degree, culture and relationships with the coaches," he said.

This season, Gauthier passed for 2,456 yards with 31 touchdowns. He was named all-county and all-region. Rivals rates him as a 4 star prospect and the No. 15 QB prospect nationally in the '21 class.


DE Yaya Diaby of Georgia Military College, who has a USC offer, committed to Louisville.

QB Hunter Helms of Gray Collegiate in Columbia was offered by South Florida. Helms has 15 Football Bowl Subdivision offers, and Clemson has invited him to walk on. He plans to take official visits to Clemson and USF in January.

Helms' teammate, WR Omarion Dollison, signed with USF.

Hammond QB Jackson Muschamp, the son of the USC head coach, remains open on his decision, according to his head coach, Erik Kimrey.

He has offers from Boston College, Middle Tennessee State, Western Carolina, Wofford, Samford and Jacksonville State. He also has a walk-on invite from UGA.

Hammond LB Saul Diaz is looking hard at The Citadel.

The Most Valuable Players for South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl were WR Jalin Hyatt of Dutch Fork High in Irmo and Laurens High LB Duane Martin. Hyatt had six catches for 197 yards and two TDs, including a 72-yard scoring catch. Martin had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery and one broken up pass.

Hyatt signed with Tennessee and Martin with Louisville. Neither was recruited heavily by Clemson or USC.

Myrtle Beach High WR JJ Jones was offered by Indiana and Old Dominion. WR O'Mega Blake of South Pointe High in Rock Hill was offered by Indiana.

Eli Henderson, a '22 offensive lineman from Byrnes High in Duncan, was offered by Arkansas.

Collin Hill, the former QB at Dorman High in Roebuck who played for new USC OC Mike Bobo at Colorado State, plans to transfer for his final season.

He was a redshirt junior last season, having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his freshman season of '16. He suffered his third torn ACL this season.

He played in 18 games for the Rams, passing for 3,323 yards, and 23 TDs against 11 interceptions.

Jackson Williamson, a former QB at Westside High in Anderson, has transferred from Miami (Ohio) to Newberry.