Georgia safety picks Tigers over Sooners, Tide

Posted 8/22/18

Clemson was not one of the first major programs to offer safety Jalyn Phillips of Lawrenceville, Ga., but the Tigers are the last team standing with him after his commitment announcement on Monday.

Phillips had narrowed his decision to Clemson, …

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Georgia safety picks Tigers over Sooners, Tide


Clemson was not one of the first major programs to offer safety Jalyn Phillips of Lawrenceville, Ga., but the Tigers are the last team standing with him after his commitment announcement on Monday.

Phillips had narrowed his decision to Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma. At Clemson, he will join teammate cornerback Andrew Booth in the 2019 football recruiting class.

Phillips didn't pick up his offer from Clemson until an unofficial visit in early June. Even at that point though, he had the Tigers in his top five and from there things just grew stronger. He said he understood why the Clemson coaches didn't rush to offer him.

"They said to stay patient, and they wanted to see me play at free safety, and that I can cover and come down and hit people," Phillips said. "It was definitely a blessing, a dream come true."

Phillips was favoring Oklahoma prior to receiving the Clemson offer. He said he made his decision earlier this summer then decided to announce on Monday, his birthday.

"The atmosphere there is incredible," Phillips said. "I have good relationship with all the coaches. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Brent) Venables shows so much passion in running the defense that it gives me goose bumps. They are another program that stays in the winning column."

Two other winning factors for Clemson with Phillips were the location and his long-standing relationship with S coach Mickey Conn.

"They are close to home, and I know the entire coaching staff," he said. "I've known Coach Conn since I was a little kid."

Archer High School has one of the most talented teams in Georgia this season, and Clemson has come away with the gems in the secondary in Phillips and Booth.

"That's going to be something special to see," Phillips said of playing in the Clemson secondary with his buddy.

Last season, Phillips was in on 58 tackles with one interception. At this point, he does not plan to sign until February.

He's the fourth S commitment for the class and the 23rd overall.

Clemson missed on Phillips' teammate, defensive end Colby Wooden, when he committed to Auburn. The Tigers also missed on DL Jacob Bandes of Antioch, Calif., who committed to Washington.


The University of South Carolina added a pair of cornerbacks to the '19 commitment class last week.

USC gained commitments from DJ Daniel of Georgia Military College and Cam Smith of Blythewood High.

Daniel chose USC over Georgia and Kentucky. Daniel made his decision known at a gathering of family, coaches and teammates at the school gymnasium.

USC head coach Will Muschamp and DC/secondary coach Travaris Robinson pushed a message of need at CB on Daniel throughout the process.

"It's more of a need than a want for them," said Daniel. "I'm looking at the depth chart for them on the defensive side. The support system here is outstanding.

"I love the coaching staff. I love talking to Coach Muschamp. I think Muschamp has always been a great coach. He's always stood out to me. And Coach T-Rob (Robinson), he's a straight-to-the-point type of coach and that's what I like about him most."

Daniel is regarded as the top cover CB in the junior college ranks this season. Last season, the Griffin, Ga., native had 26 tackles along with three INTs and five pass breakups.

Smith picked USC over UGA and Tennessee. His recruiting stock went up this summer after strong camp performances at USC and UGA, after which he landed his offers. Smith said a few factors stood out about USC that led to his commitment.

"The atmosphere and the fans and the new facilities," he said. "I made sure there wasn't a lot of depth above me so I could come in and try and play as a freshman."

Smith also likes the direction Muschamp is taking USC at this point.

"A great, building program. Right now they are rebuilding. They keep everybody in state like they had a couple of years ago," he said.

Last season, playing in Fort Meade, Md., Smith had 61 tackles and three INTs.

USC currently counts 21 in its '19 recruiting class including a pair of transfers.

USC did miss on another target. S Jaylen McCollough of Powder Springs, Ga., committed to Tennessee.

Offensive lineman Darius Washington of Pensacola, Fla., has now firmed up his official visit to USC for Sept. 7. The Mississippi State commitment already had set officials to Mississippi State for Sept. 28 and Miami for Oct. 5.

Washington said Muschamp is leading USC's recruiting efforts and is in touch daily, primarily through text messages.

"I need to get up there and see the campus and see how everything goes on my official visit," he said. "I can't pinpoint my feelings without getting there. As of relationship-wise, talking on the phone, we have a phone-built relationship."

Washington committed to Mississippi State in early June, and the Bulldogs have remained in firm control of his recruiting since then. It won't be easy for USC or Hurricanes to turn him from Mississippi State.

"Mississippi State just knocked it out of the park on my last visit," Washington said. "They showed me everything, and I just love the coaches so much, and I just love the school in general. If a school shows me they are more comfortable to my situation and specifically it's better for me at that school than Mississippi State, then I'd basically change my mind, but right now my heart is committed to Mississippi State, and it's going to be very hard."


CB Devin Bush of New Orleans, who had cut his list to Clemson, Louisiana State and Tennessee, announced he is reopening his recruiting to other programs. He also holds a USC offer.

USC has offered S Dedrrick Holmes of Evans, Ga., and Clemson has had contact with last season's INT leader in the state of Georgia.

Holmes is hearing a good bit from USC at this point. He camped with USC this summer and plans a return visit for the UGA game.

"They like the way that I vision the field, and they like the way that I come down hill making tackles," Holmes said of Muschamp and Robinson. "They like the fact that I'm a good open field tackler, really the best in the CSRA. When they found out I had nine interceptions, that was a big thing. He (Robinson) told me that if you have nine interceptions in college, you'll be one of the leaders in the nation. That surprised me."

Clemson's Conn also was in touch, according to Holmes, and he said the Tigers plan to scout him once the dead period ends. Holmes also has an offer from Liberty and is also hearing from Auburn and Troy. He plans to make a decision around mid-season.

Along with his nine INTs last season, Holmes had 7 PBUs and 49 tackles. He also caught 21 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

Clemson and USC '20 DB target Luke Hill of Washington plans to announce on Sept. 1. He also has offers from Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and others.


The state's top prospect in the '19 class will consider Clemson among his final four schools but not USC.

Josiah James, a 6-foot-6-inch player from Porter-Gaud in Charleston, will take official visits to Clemson, Duke, Michigan State and Tennessee.

USC was on James' list of nine before he cut it to four. Also cut were Kansas, UVa, Arizona and Florida State.

James had a logical reason for picking each of the finalists. Tennessee was one of his first offers, going back to his freshman season. His father played at Michigan State in the early 1980s, Duke is Duke, and Clemson give him the home state connection.

"They (Clemson) were able to forge a good enough relationship," Porter-Gaud head coach John Pearson said. "It was a process. Clemson was in there and did a great job, and I think it has intrigued Josiah to the point that he's going to make an official visit."

USC also recruited James hard, and even has a commitment from his close friend and AAU teammate Trae Hannibal. All of that was not enough though to help USC get an official visit.

"Surprised, I was surprised," Pearson said. "I thought that Carolina did a great job of getting to know Josiah and the family. I don't know what it came down to, and that's fine. It's a process Josiah and his family have to go through, and they have to take the phone calls and they have to make that decision."

Duke already is heavy on James' mind as he's coming off an unofficial visit there earlier this month with his family and coach.

"He had a good time, everybody did," Pearson said. "We drove up there and visited with the coaching staff, watched a little basketball. I felt like Duke did a fantastic job. He (Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski) gave him a lot of attention, he really did. Coach K talked to the family for a good while. He was impressive, he really was."

James further enhanced his national reputation this summer playing for the gold medal-winning USA national team in the FIBA Americas U18 tournament in Canada. He averaged five points and six rebounds per game. In his career at Porter-Gaud, he has scored over 1,600 points.

Malcolm Wilson, a 6-11 player from Ridge View High in Columbia, has a final three of Clemson, Georgetown and Rice. He will take an official visit to Rice the end of the month and one to Georgetown two weeks later. He's not yet set his Clemson date.

Wilson said each school offers him a little something different, but there's also a common element to each program that is attractive to him.

"At Georgetown, pretty much the athletics and academics, being with (head) Coach (Patrick) Ewing and his staff in the way that he wants to help and develop me as a player," Wilson said. "At Rice, it's definitely the academics, and then their staff also wants to develop me. And Clemson, being right here in South Carolina, their team, what they did last year and they want to add me in and hopefully do some great things, keep doing what I'm doing with blocking shots and rebounding."

Wilson said there is no favorite among the three at this point. One factor working in Clemson's favor is that head coach Brad Brownell and his staff have been working him longer than the rest.

"I feel great about them," Wilson said. "They've been with me since the beginning of my recruitment and they've stuck with me throughout the whole thing."

USC also recruited Wilson, and he looked closely at USC with on-campus visits as well as an in-home visit with the coaches. However, when he decided to shorten his list, USC didn't factor into his thinking.

"I just had a feeling that I wasn't going to be at South Carolina, and I didn't want to drag it out," he said. "It was more of me, nothing that they did, just a decision to cut them out of the three."

He plans to sign in November.

Tyrell Jones, a 6-1 point guard from Orlando, Fla., had a big summer season, and that resulted in a variety of major offers, including one from Clemson.

"They like everything about me, the way I come off ball screens and shoot the ball real good, making plays for my teammates, making right decisions," Jones said. "Very good scorer coming off the pick and roll."

Jones said he's still doing his homework on Clemson, but from what he's seen of the Tigers, he likes the style of play.

"I love their defense, how they play man-to-man defense. They let their guys have a lot of freedom with the ball."

Jones has not yet trimmed his list, which also includes offers from Florida, UGA, Tennessee, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Virginia Commonwealth, Mississippi, Minnesota and Mississippi State.

Chase Hunter, a 6-3 player from Atlanta was expected to visit Clemson over the weekend. According to national basketball evaluator Samad Hines, Hunter also has visits set with Oklahoma and UGA the next two weekends, and he also plans to visit Michigan State and UVa.

Hines also reported Dacula, Ga., PG Brenden Tucker is set to visit College of Charleston on Sept,. 7 and VT on Oct. 5.

PG Tommy Bruner of Gray Collegiate in Columbia will take official visits to Massachusetts, College of Charleston and Missouri State. He's also drawn interest from Wichita State and Oklahoma State.

Kofi Cockburn, a 6-10 player from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, plans to visit Kentucky, Connecticut, FSU and Illinois, according to Zagsblog, which spoke with him at an event in Los Angeles. He also has USC on his short list of 12.

Tre Jackson, a 2 guard from Blythewood High, was offered by Iowa State.

The USC women's team is in the top five with 6-0 Breanna Beal of Rock Island, Ill. The others are Illinois, Michigan, Duke and Louisville.

Stephen Clark, a 6-8 player from Indian Trail, N.C., committed to The Citadel.


Aidan Hunter, a '21 right-handed pitching recruit from Hanahan High, committed to USC.