Clemson Football gets pre-Elite Junior Day commitment from Top 30 defensive end Ari Watford

It is not unusual for Clemson Football to receive verbal commitments following Elite Junior Day, but this year they start the event with a commitment from a highly-rated edge prospect.
Clemson defensive ends coach Chris Rumph during Clemson football team practice
Clemson defensive ends coach Chris Rumph during Clemson football team practice / Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson Football has received a commitment from a 2025 defensive end.

4-star prospect Ari Watford announced a verbal commitment to the Clemson Tigers. He is new defensive ends coach Chris Rumph’s first high school commitment since returning to the program earlier this year.

Watford is 6’-5” and 220 pounds. He plays football at Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the 30th ranked player nationally in the 247Sports Composite, and the 4th best edge rusher in the country.

Watford also had scholarship offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, among others. There were no Crystal Balls logged for Watford on 247.

Defensive end is an important position for the Tigers. While they return TJ Parker, there is some question regarding the balance of the talent in that group. While Rumph will have 2024 commitment Darien Mayo arriving this year, there is a need to continue to replenish the position.

""Tall, long, and lean with immense bulking capacity. Junior season has revealed much more impressive run-defending performance relative to sophomore tape. Explosive functional athlete who appears to be one of the top pass rushers in the class. Physical specs and combine athleticism support that. Uses hands well. Often wins with burst and physical tools, but also showcases one of the more impressive bags of moves that we've seen in the class. Projects as a potential high-major impact player with long-term NFL Draft early-round potential.""

Hudson Standish, 247 National Analyst

Watford has been confirmed to be attending the Elite Junior Day weekend event that the Tigers are hosting for key 2025 prospects, starting this Friday. This event is to further the program’s relationship with the hope that they can attract most of them back for official visits in June.

There is always to hope that at least one, and maybe a few might decide to announce a verbal commitment soon after the event. The Tigers have this edition started well with an announcement heading into the weekend instead.