Clemson Recruiting: Where did the state’s best go?


Keeping the best players in each state is easier said than done in college football recruiting and it’s getting even harder and harder to keep them at home.

Even though Clemson football has done well recruiting players outside of South Carolina, keeping the best players in the state is still a top priority for them and their in-state rival South Carolina.

Both signing periods are now over and Clemson’s 17-man class finished at No. 6 in the 247Sports composite rankings and South Carolina’s class 19th.

So how many of the Clemson signees and the South Carolina 22-man class were in-state recruits and where did the other top players go?

Let’s first take a look at the top 10 state commits for the Tigers and Gamecocks from 247Sports. 

Clemson got No. 1 Derion Kendrick, No. 2 Josh Belk and No. 6 Jake Venables and South Carolina secured commitments from No. 4 Dakereon Joyner, No. 5 Bryce Thompson and No. 8 Hank Manos. Kendrick, Belk, Joyner and Manos are all enrolled in school. But Thompson didn’t sign on Wednesday, and I won’t speculate on his future plans.

Of the top 50 state recruits, each school signed six. Last season, the numbers were entirely different, due in part to Clemson signing an even smaller class(14) compared to South Carolina’s 25. The Tigers only signed No. 4 Logan Rudolph while the rivals signed 10 and the top three, No. 1 Otre Smith, No. 2 Shi Smith and No. 3 Brad Johnson.

The highest ranked 2018 recruit to leave the state was No. 3 Channing Tindall, Spring Valley High. Georgia held off the Gamecocks for his signature despite the 17 mile distance from Spring Valley to the South Carolina campus. No. 7 Demarcus Gregory, No. 9 Khalid Jones III and No. 10 Kavesz Sherard signed with Ole Miss, Northwestern and Colorado State, respectively, to close out the top 10.

Gregory, the aforementioned Tindall and five other players committed or signed with SEC schools and Alabama led with two signees. One of the players to sign with Alabama was Jaylen Moody from Conway High. Moody, ranked No. 23 and a thumper at linebacker, became a hot commodity on the recruiting trail leading up to Signing Day, and had offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, East Carolina and others. Clemson was his ‘dream school’ and made a gray shirt offer, but only after he was already in the midst of SEC visits. His twin brother Juwan signed with East Carolina in December.

A total of 19 players went to other ACC, SEC or Power Five conference schools. Nine players went to the ACC, seven to the SEC and three to the Big Ten. Wake Forest(4) signed the most players. For the 2017 class, the top 50 included six from the ACC, two each from the Big Ten and Big 12, and a surprising zero from the SEC. Georgia Tech signed three away from the state.

With a class that includes the top recruit from AL, FL, GA, NC, and OH, and the No. 4 recruit from MO, Clemson has shown that success on the field correlates to more success in recruiting. On ESPN’s “National Signing Day Show”, head coach Dabo Swinney talked about the expansion of his recruiting in relation to the recent success of the program.

"……….and now our brand has grown, to a point, through the success that we have had and the consistency that we have had that we can go out and get a player from Missouri. We’ve got two players on this team from Kansas that are great players. We got a player from Texas on this team. We had the No. 1 player from Hawaii on this team………We’ve built our program definitely from the inside out."

Clemson and South Carolina currently have a combined nine committed players for 2019. South Carolina(7) has No. 2 Jamario Holley from the state while the Clemson(2) commits are both from Georgia.

Swinney said that he expects to sign about 25 players, so fans will likely see a few state recruits in the final number.