What’s next after Clemson football misses on quarterback target?

Coming out of last weekend’s Elite Junior Day event, Clemson football appeared to be on a roll on the recruiting trail.

Not only had the Tigers received two commitments in three days, but there was talk of more to come, both in the short term and the longer term.

While the longer term still looks promising, one of those that ended up being a shorter term was quarterback Walker White out of Arkansas, a 4-Star talent with an Arkansas legacy that was believed to want to carve his own path outside of his home state, checked all the boxes and held a Clemson offer.

White had several projections for Clemson, but in the end, he chose Auburn at the last minute.

Momentum stopped.

Make of that what you will, but given the number and sources of the original projections that Walker was headed to Clemson and where he ultimately pledged to, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if NIL was involved.

There’s nothing wrong with that, NIL is legal, at least it is if it’s done the right way, as intended, and I know of nothing that says otherwise.

If you’re Clemson, it’s water under the bridge and there’s only one reaction: Move on to the next guy.

Except I had to ask myself “Who is the next guy?”

The Tigers are famously stingy with their offers and White was one of two quarterbacks that held offers from Clemson, the other being 5-Star Jadyn Davis, who’s long been linked with Michigan.

After missing on their quarterback target, Clemson football has to go back to the drawing board and assess their options

Two names that I’ve heard are Jake Merklinger and Marcos Davilla.

Merklinger is a 4-Star talent out of Savannah, Georgia Calvary Day School, ranked No. 81 in the 247sports.com composite and the 7th best quarterback.

Davilla is currently TCU’s lone 2024 commitment, a 6’4, 217 pound 4-Star from Midland, Texas, whose page on 247sports.com shows offers from Texas A&M, North Carolina State, Houston and others.

The connection there is obvious, as Davilla committed to TCU on December 22, 2022 when Garrett Riley was the offensive coordinator and Riley is listed as his recruiter of record on 247sports.com

Merklinger is a little more nebulous and early returns indicate Clemson could be late to the party on this one.

That’s the rub when you offer so few players at a time.

The returns from the Elite Junior Day say Clemson’s selective approach means an offer from the Tigers means something because of how few there are, but on the flip side, when you miss it’s almost like starting all over.

That may not be the case here, as Riley has a pre-existing relationship with one and given the Tigers staff history, you’d have to believe they’ve done their due diligence on the other.