It's been a bit longer than I anticipated, but it's finally time for Round 2 of my ACC Football Recruiting Breakdown for 2019.
Next up is Clemson.
2019 Class:
ACC Rank: 1
Top Recruit: Andrew Booth, CB, Lawrenceville GA
Biggest Need: A Bigger Trophy Case...
The scary part is, I'm not trying to be funny with the need for Clemson being more room for trophies. It took Dabo 4 or 5 years to build it, but he has an absolute machine running in the middle of absolute nowhere in South Carolina. Clemson has been able to bring in the right players at the right position for really the last 5 recruiting classes. That's not to say they're all 5 star guys. That's not the case. It just always seems like Clemson has veteran players at every position and young, electric talent coming right up behind them. If there is a roster weakness the Tigers need to address, it will have to deal more with injuries than lack of depth.

Most Exciting Recruit: Frank Ladson, WR, Miami FL
Clemson grabbed this one right out of The U's backyard. At 6'3" with a 10" hand measurement, Ladson looks like some of the elite, big bodied Clemson receivers of the past like DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Having Trevor Lawrence at QB has a way of making every WR recruit look like a potential All-ACC guy, but with Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross being on the roster for a few more years Ladson could find himself covered by the second, even third choice CB in certain formations.

Early Contributor(s): Tyler Davis, DT, Apopka FL
Even for Clemson, the amount of attrition on the DL is going to be a major obstacle to overcome. Davis (6'1", 293lbs.) relies more on his athleticism than size and strength in the interior, which fits the Clemson mold very well. He won't start, but he'll be pushing for playing time and could rack up some good stats against lesser opponents. I'm looking at you WOFFORD and UNC-CHARLOTTE.
Sam's Grade: A-
It's hard to find anything negative to say about how Clemson has attacked recruiting recently. Trust me I tried to find something. The only thing I could say is Clemson missed on some big time recruits. Zacch Pickens (no typo) is a top 10 DT recruit from South Carolina with all the measurables. He chose the Gamecocks. CB Cameron Smith was another top recruit from the Palmetto State who chose South Carolina. In fact, Clemson was unable to land a top 5 recruit in state in 2019. (#3 WR Jacoby Pickney is a Hokie)

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


Thanks Sam. Love these articles as I am never going to have the time to keep track of other teams without them being on TKP.

Sam, I want to start by saying that I absolutely love these recruiting breakdowns and the work you are doing for the site! However, I have to disagree with a few of your points here. I live in the upstate and went to Clemson, and it's not nearly as "in the middle of nowhere" as you might think. It's 15 mins off I-85 which is 2 hours to ATL/Charlotte in either direction. It's 20 minutes in a straight line over the I-85 bridge into Anderson, where I grew up which is not a big city but it's hardly a small town. It's 30 minutes from Greenville, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It's quite simply too close to all of these things to where it doesn't really feel that remote at all.

I also think Joseph Ngata will be better than Ladson. Additionally, I think Clemson will not find a ton of top contributors from this class, despite it being one of their largest in recent years. They took a lot of bodies that will likely never start for them, and certainly are not up to the level that Clemson has been at the last 5 years or so. They whiffed pretty heavily on their OL recruiting (which they have rebounded from completely with the 2020 class already).

I wanted to add my comments on this as well.

in the middle of absolute nowhere in South Carolina.

They are really close to Atlanta, I used to drive through there on my way home, when I lived in ATL, and it's not that far or bad of a drive.

You bring up a good point, that they are also close to Charlotte as well.


Yep, 2 hours is really only if you account for the possibility traffic, and it depends on where you are going in the Greater Atlanta area. You can make it in under 2 hours if you hit on a good day. It's also important to note the many cultural similarities between Georgia and South Carolina to the point that many parts of the states are indistinguishable. It's extremely common for families to be split across the two states, and it's highly unlikely if you grew up in the upstate that the city of Atlanta isn't important to you for family, sports, or other reasons. The two states are quite connected, and Clemson is very close to the border.

They are also very close to Columbia which is probably the only City in South Carolina as well.


Charleston is the biggest city, Columbia is now 2nd, and Greenville is the third biggest and also the fastest growing city east of Texas in the country by a few metrics. That said, I think overall Raleigh is definitely growing faster in more substantial ways.

I agree that Clemson won't get a lot of immediate work from this class, and quite frankly they don't need it. As for the OL, I think they're better at that position group than people think. They were #12 in fewest sacks allowed in FBS last season, just 1.13 per game. As for the location of Clemson, SC, it's pretty out there, I'd say comparable to Tech in being 30-45 minutes away from a small sized city. However, compared to USC, UGA, Florida State, Miami, it's pretty far out there. I've been 4 of 5 times. A recruit has to be okay with that kind of location to consider Clemson.

The city itself is small, but I can tell you for sure as someone who has been to both Blacksburg and Clemson many, many times, it does not feel anywhere close to as remote as Blacksburg. A trip up to Blacksburg up 85, to Charlotte, onto 77, and then 81 is beautiful, but feels very remote once you peel off from Charlotte. You drive through beautiful rolling hills and farmland for like two hours time. You drive through some remote-ish farmland for 5-8 minutes while you pass by Pendleton on your way from 85 to Clemson. Every kid coming via car from the southeast is going to feel that exact way as they drive through all those rolling hills and farmland on the way to Blacksburg.

I-77 in North Carolina is terrible I try to skip it as much as possible

When in doubt. Nap it out

Had to drive to UNC-Chapel Hill for volleyball tournaments at 5am from Tech. That stretch of road is scary

On my first trip to Blacksburg, from DC, I made a mental note that I was in Bumfuck Egypt, one-hundred miles later I was in Blacksburg. Whenever someone asked where Tech was I'd say it's 100 miles past Bumfuck.

If you think Blacksburg is in Bumfuck then you haven't been to Bumfuck.

Going to have to agree there.

Blacksburg (and the route getting there) is a metropolis by comparison to some other college towns. Drive to UVa-Wise or Concord University sometime.

I wanted to say this. Finding actual bumfuck on the east coast is pretty difficult. Go out to some of the plains states you'll know you're their when you see a sign that says something along the lines of 'next gas pump 150 miles.'

(add if applicable) /s

(#3 WR Jacoby Pickney is a Hokie)

Probably my favorite part of the article

So does this mean until Dabo leaves for Bama that our ceiling is now a puncher's chance against Clemson in the ACCCG?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

You obviously have not heard, da U is bak

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"


That roster is head and shoulders above the rest of the conference, and that's putting it lightly.