Tigers looking to lure another highly-touted DT prospect

Posted 11/9/18

A few years ago Clemson went into Wake Forest, N.C., and pulled out one of the biggest gems in the 2016 football recruiting class in defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. The Tigers are reaching back into that program in pursuit of another talented DT …

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Tigers looking to lure another highly-touted DT prospect


A few years ago Clemson went into Wake Forest, N.C., and pulled out one of the biggest gems in the 2016 football recruiting class in defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. The Tigers are reaching back into that program in pursuit of another talented DT in Shrine Bowl selection Jaden McKenzie (6-feet-4-inches, 280 pounds).

McKenzie is not as highly touted nationally as Lawrence was but is a very good prospect in his own right.

"Coming off the ball, he reminds me of Dexter," said Wake Forest head coach Reggie Lucas. "That's how quick he is. He's very explosive coming off the ball."

McKenzie has not yet made it to Clemson for a game this season, but he's planning to get there. He has been to the campus three other times. According to statistics posted on MaxPreps, McKenzie had 97 tackles and nine quarterback sacks as a junior. He also had nine sacks as a sophomore. In seven games this season he's recorded 42 tackles and six sacks.

McKenzie knows about the legacy of talent on Clemson's defensive line but feels he has the pedigree to fit right in if he chooses the Tigers.

"I know they've got a defensive line that the whole front is elite players. I'll have to step my game up more," McKenzie said. "I feel like I could be a good fit on their D-line with some work. Their coach kind of runs it the same way as my coach runs it as far as like coaching styles, so I like it."

This season McKenzie has been to Wake Forest and North Carolina for games. He has official visits set with WF for Nov. 30 and UNC the following weekend. Those two, he said, are recruiting him the hardest of all the schools. He also has offers from South Carolina, Ohio State, Duke, Central Florida, East Carolina, Memphis and others. McKenzie said he is not graduating early, but he does plan to sign in December.

Saturday's 77-16 win over Louisville offered Clemson the chance to host some top targets. Among those on hand were center Clay Webb of Oxford, Ala., running back Jerrion Ealy of Jackson, Miss., '20 cornerback RJ Mickens of Southlake, Texas, and '20 linebacker Antoine Sampah.

Webb also is looking hard at Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. Ealy is a Mississippi commitment and also a highly rated baseball prospect. Mickens also has Ohio State and Texas A&M high up on his list. Sampah is the No. 1 ranked inside linebacker in the '20 class by Rivals and is a national recruit.

Wide receiver Ali Jennings of Highland Springs, Va., also was at Clemson on Saturday. His reported offers include Georgia Tech and West Virginia. He's the brother of Clemson safety K'Von Wallace. He also visited USC last month.

Also visiting Clemson on Saturday were '20 offensive lineman Colby Todd of Aynor High School, '20 safety Donqua Wilson of A.C. Flora High in Columbia and '21 OL Quinton Bradford of Norcross, Ga.

Clemson is on the short list with '20 DL McKinnley Jackson (6-2, 310) of Lucedale, Miss. Some of the other 14 teams on the list are Ole Miss, Mississippi State, A&M, Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana State, Michigan and Florida State.


Clemson and USC LB target Quavaris Crouch of Charlotte took his official visit to Michigan this past weekend. He also has taken an official to FSU and is scheduled for an official to Clemson later this month. He's also been to Clemson, USC and North Caroina State for games.

OL Jakai Moore of Nokesville, Va., remains a much coveted prospect by USC, Clemson and others. He has taken one official visit thus far, to USC in April. He was back at USC for the Tennessee game late last month.

"The visit was amazing, I'm not going to lie to you," Moore said. "For my first game visit to South Carolina, it was a good one, I liked it. The coaches are chill. I can talk to them. They are basically like family."

As for his real family, Moore said his mother "loves South Carolina."

Moore watched USC beat Tennessee 27-24, and he also got the chance to talk with head coach Will Muschamp, who further drove home the message he has used in recruiting players the last three years.

"They need me and they can get me to the NFL (National Football League) the best way because playing in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) is a whole different level," Moore said. "And they are only getting better. I definitely seen that out there. If I don't start off the jump, I'll definitely have the chance to play early."

Moore said the visit left USC very high on his list, though he's not naming favorites. He has one more official visit set and that's to Penn State on Dec. 9. Clemson also remains in Moore's ear, and he will visit there unofficially for the USC game.

"I've been talking to (Tiger OL) Coach (Robbie) Caldwell all the time, just constantly contacting me and calling me on the phone. We keep in contact a lot," Moore said. "They're the top dogs."

Moore said he will consider an official visit to Clemson before making his announcement on Dec. 19. He said Florida also has been talking to him a lot giving him a list of USC, Clemson, PSU and UF as the schools strongest with him at this point.

Wisdom Asaboro (6-8, 275), a '20 OL/DL who is a native of Nigeria and attends Covenant Day School in Matthews, N.C., has suddenly burst onto the recruiting scene. USC and UNC were his first offers and Clemson is also entering the fray. Asaboro visited USC for the Tennessee game and was scheduled to visit Clemson this past Saturday.

"Told me he had a great time," Asaboro's head coach, Chris James, said of Asaboro's USC visit. "It's real early in the process, and he's just trying to do some basic level introduction stuff where you find out more about the schools. He's going to take his time and figure out what's the best fit for him."

Asaboro also has offers from Duke, UGA, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Virginia, according to his coach. He's also been to Duke for a game.

Asaboro plays DL for James, but he projects for either the OL or DL, and there is no consensus among the recruiters about which position he would play. He also plays basketball.

What's also not known at this point about Asaboro is which class with which he will sign. James said he can sign for the '19 class, but he does have the opportunity to return to high school for another season and sign with the '20 class.

Dameon Wilson, a '21 LB from Kings Mountain, N.C.,has a USC offer and was back for Tennessee, his second game visit of the season. He also was in for the UGA game.

"It's a great school, and I love the environment the fans make," Wilson said.

He also has an offer from UNC and has visited there. He also went to Clemson for the Syracuse game.


Four teams have emerged as the frontrunners for former UGA CB commitment Jalen Perry of Dacula, Ga. USC, Michigan, Auburn and UF have a chance to land Perry after he wraps up his visits in December.

Perry has been to USC twice for games this season. He also went to Michigan for the Wisconsin game. He plans to take an official visit to UF soon and will visit Auburn this month. He also will return to USC for the Chattanooga game.

USC defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson recently checked in on Perry at his school.

"They like me a lot, they are real high on me," Perry said. "I'm real excited about what their coaching staff thinks of me."

Perry said he will also take an official visit to USC after the season, meaning he'll take at least two more visits with USC. He is not claiming a favorite among his four and said each is recruiting him hard.

USC is showing increased interest in Mullins High athlete Xavier Legette (6-3, 190). Legette visited for the Tennessee game and might eventually call Columbia home.

"I feel like I fit in pretty good with them," Legette said.

Legette plays quarterback for the Auctioneers but said USC likes him primarily as a WR, though he also talked with Robinson about playing over there. Legette also met with Muschamp in his office and got an offer from him, though it came with a twist.

"He said I've got a full scholarship offer from them right now, but as of right now I can't enroll in June," Legette said. "I have to enroll on Aug. 1 when the school starts because he doesn't have enough (scholarship) numbers right now. He put me on the scholarship with the 2020 class."

Legette said that arrangement is fine with him, though he wasn't prepared to say yes right away. He also has an offer from Coastal Carolina and is hearing from Georgia State and WF. He also has been to Coastal and Georgia State for games.

"I'm still looking around to see what other opportunities come, and I'm trying to wait a little more to make sure everything is good school-wise," he said.

Legette said he won't take too long to make a decision, and he plans to return to USC for the Chattanooga game.

Placekicker Alex Herrera of Spring Valley High in Columbia was back at USC for the Tennessee game, his third visit for a game this season. Herrera said the visit went well, and he's been invited back for the Chattanooga game.

Emon Hill, a '21 CB from Hoschton, Ga., visited USC for the Tennessee game. "The visit was great," Hill said. "The campus and facilities are top of the line. The fans are No. 1. I can see myself playing in Columbia."

Hill has not yet landed offers, but he's also getting interest from Mississippi State, Louisville, Oregon State and Kentucky. He was at Tennessee over the weekend and will go to Notre Dame this weekend.

TreVeyon Henderson, a '21 ATH from Hopewell, Va., also was in for a visit at USC for the Tennessee game. "They talk very highly of me, they like my speed and how aggressive I am," Henderson said. "They're talking about offering me sometime around the end of my season."

USC likes him as a S. He's also getting interest from Indiana and Michigan, and he's planning visits to UVa, Temple and Cincinnati.

USC offered CB Maurice Gaines, a native of Sacramento, Calif., who attends St. Thomas More Academy in Connecticut. He currently is committed to Arizona. GT and Baylor are among his other offers.

USC is showing some interest in CB Dontye Carriere-Williams of Independence Junior College in Kansas. He's a native of Miami who transferred out of Wisconsin in August after spending two seasons there. He was just offered by Louisville and also has a Vanderbilt offer.

USC also offered '22 RB Quintavious Lockett of Atlanta. He also was offered by UGA.


QB Eric Tuttle of Berkeley High in Moncks Corner committed to North Greenville, defensive end Nicoles Rogers of Blythewood High committed to The Citadel, and WR Malik Wesley of Spring Valley committed to Nevada-Las Vegas.

ATH Jalon Calhoun of Southside Christian High in Simpsonville, who decommitted from GT last Friday, committed to Duke on Sunday. He's a Shrine Bowl selection.

OL/DE Cooper Dawson of Hanahan High took an official visit to Army over the weekend. He is scheduled for an official to UCF this coming weekend and one to Vandy the following weekend.

OL Jimmy Fritzsche of Greenville High was offered by Appalachian State. Some of his other offers are Nebraska, Purdue, Coastal, UConn, Georgia State and Tulane.

Jordan Burch, a '20 DE from Hammond School in Columbia, was offered by LSU. Ta'Chawn Brooks, a '20 OL from Dutch Fork High in Irmo, planned to visit UK this past Saturday for the UGA game, and '20 WR Jalen Coit of Cheraw High planned to visit Virginia Tech.


The early signing period for basketball is next week and Clemson head coach Brad Brownell will be signing three guards to help offset the loss of this year's starting backcourt.

Alex Hemenway, a 6-4 player from Newburgh, Ind., committed to the Tigers over Creighton, DePaul and Belmont. He joins 6-3 Chase Hunter and 6-1 Al-Amir Dawes in the Tigers' class.

"What really stood out was the environment," Hemenway said. "Being able to get to build a relationship with the coaches at an early stage was really big to me as well. From the conversations we've had they see me as a shot maker, and someone that can come in and make shots at a high level."

Hemenway averaged 21 points, five rebounds and four assists per game last season. He's regarded as an excellent outside shooter and Clemson, he said, wants him just for that.

"I make shots," he said. "That's one thing that they said that sticks out about me. Off the dribble, stationary, off ball screens. They said I'm I a shot maker and that's one thing they said that they are losing, so that's what they kind of keyed on to me. That's the one thing they said will help them mostly."

With four seniors departing and the loss of transfer AJ Oliver, Brownell still has two more scholarships in his pocket for this class.

Gerald Drumgoole, a 6-5 player who took an official to USC in late September, made an official visit to Minnesota last weekend. He also has Creighton and Oklahoma on his short list.

Christian Brown, a 6-7 player formerly of A.C. Flora and Lower Richland High in Hopkins and most recently at McCeachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., enrolled last week at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He has taken official visits to Clemson, UGA and UNLV.

Eugene Brown, a 6-5 '20 recruit from Decatur, Ga., was offered by Clemson. GT and Mississippi State also are among his offers.


Jake Madden (6-4 165), a '20 right-handed pitcher from Enola, Pa., committed to USC.