Sometimes Clemson Football fans don’t like what I have to say because I can be critical of some of them. Usually, it’s a small percentage of a fan base. Overall the fan base has a good head on its shoulders.
The small percentage that will draw the criticism today are the fans who immediately get salty whenever they see a report that Clemson is recruiting a player that one recruiting service or another has labeled as a 3-star.
Typical quotes (paraphrased) you will see on message boards are akin to:
- “Should be going after the 5-stars but we continually settle for 3-stars. Can’t compete that way.”
- “(Insert coach’s name here) just can’t recruit with the big boys so he settles for the scraps.”
- “I just don’t understand why we set our sights so low.”
I understand the desire to land the 5-stars and compete for the best players in the game. Some pundits out there say “Stars matter” and they aren’t wrong. When you look at who competes regularly for national championships and playoff berths, they are usually the programs that have a lot of highly-rated high school prospects.
That does not mean that there aren’t prospects out there that have slipped under the radar of the recruiting services. It isn’t unusual for Rivals to have a guy rated high, and for 247Sports to have him as a 3-star, or vice versa. Sometimes they slip by all the services.
The number of 5-star and 4-star players who work out well for the Tigers is higher than the number of 3-star players that shine, but some of them still shine, and this fall is a good reminder of that.
More 3-stars could contribute for Clemson Football than normal years
Soon Rubbing the Rock will begin discussing who will likely redshirt, who is up in the air, and who will likely play more than four games this season. If you subscribe to the insider publications and have been paying attention to who is getting love, either because of flashing talent on the field or a need because of depth, you will notice a trend.
Several 3-stars from the Class of 2023 have a good chance to avoid a redshirt this season.
Sometimes the higher-rated guys are down on the depth chart because of considerable returning talent ahead of them. It isn’t an indictment of their capabilities, and I am not saying the 3-stars are better players.
In some cases, the 3-stars are getting opportunities because of need, and not just because they are too good to stay off the field. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t exceeding expectations. The insiders have mentioned several names that have caught their attention. They have mentioned Tyler Brown publicly several times. Tink Kelley was mentioned by Coach Swinney after their scrimmage today.
Dee Crayton is receiving praise for his work in camp. Both Shelton Lewis and Khalil Barnes are expected to play this season. Brown, Kelley, Crayton, Lewis and Barnes were all ranked as 3-stars out of high school.
As usual, it’s just talking season and we’ll know more as the regular season progresses, but the negative narrative of the 3-star recruit is missing the mark so far in the Class of 2023.