|by David Hood|
Day five of Dabo Swinney’s high school camp drew in several of the nation’s biggest for the next couple of recruiting cycles, including defensive tackle Tim Settle of Manassas (VA) Stonewall Jackson. Settle, regarded by many as one of the top two defensive tackle prospects in the nation, made the trip to the camp with current Clemson linebacker commit Chad Smith and 2015 Fredericksburg (VA) Chancellor OT Matthew Burrell.
It didn’t take Settle long to get to going, working in the same group as Clemson commit Gage Cervenka of Greenwood (SC) Emerald. Both were very impressive during the drills I watched, even though it took Settle a little bit to “settle” in. However, once the two got warmed up – which didn’t take long as the morning warmed up – both showed explosiveness off the ball and attacked the tackling dummy with a passion.
Cervenka is quicker than I would have thought, and Dan Brooks praised how low he was able to get coming out of a 3-point stance. Settle is big – 6-3, 325 – and he worked with Brooks and current players D.J. Reader and Josh Watson. He drew oohs and aahs from the crowd with one athletic feat that’s hard for smaller players to pull off – he was on the ground on his back, threw his knees and feet in the air and then jumped to his feet without ever using his hands. I’ve seen gymnasts do it, but never a 325-pound man.
*Brent Venables had another impressive group of linebackers, including Smith. It was my first time seeing Smith in action, and he didn’t disappoint while working in a group with 2016 prospect Josh Brown. Venables put Smith and Brown next to each other in line, and it was obvious they were trying to outwork each other. Brown is long and lanky, Smith is tall but solid. Both are extremely good athletes, and Smith shows good ball skills and coverage skills.
Venables brought current linebacker Tony Steward over to the group, introduced him as a former 5-star and High School Butkus Award winner and told the group, “this is what you want to be.” He then had Steward run through a couple of drills, and for the record Steward looks fantastic.
Another linebacker that is drawing attention from Venables is Summerville’s Kawaun Cox. The rising senior doesn’t have many offers and has no stars, yet the 6-1, 220-pounder has consistently outworked many of the higher-rated players there. He plays defensive end at Summerville, and his coach told me that Illinois and Wake Forest are beginning to show interest. Last night, Venables told the coach that he was going to back up and watch film and highlights of Cox and they would talk before the two left camp. Last year, we told you about Blythewood linebacker Jalen Williams, another under-the-radar guy who Venables liked, and Williams will be on Clemson’s campus in a few weeks. Could Cox be another that gets a preferred walk-on or grayshirt offer?
*Former Clemson linebacker Stanley Hunter brought 2016 running back Tavien Feaster of Spartanburg (SC) to the morning session, and Feaster spent time working with Tony Elliott’s group. Feaster looked good during the running back drills, but really popped when they worked with the quarterbacks on routes coming out of the backfield. His speed? As good as advertised, and he has good hands and cutting ability. The 5-11, 192-pounder has offers from all of the big names, and his workout didn’t disappoint.
*Burrell didn’t work out, and told one bystander he didn’t bring any shoes. Instead, he walked around the facility and saw a few of the drills. At almost 6-6 and 290 pounds, he was easy to spot as he walked through the groups.
Another interested bystander was 2016 DT prospect Austin Bryant out of Thomasville (GA).
*Finally got a chance to settle in and watch 2015 quarterback commit Tucker Israel last night. Israel had a good session – at least while I was watching – and it was easy to see that is extremely coachable. He soaks up everything Chad Morris has to say, and he simply looks like the football version of a gym rat. I was surprised at his footwork and arm strength, and it’s easy to see why his ratings have climbed as he’s gotten more and more exposure.
*From the “OMG” department, current receiver Kyrin Priester has been run to death while working with the receiving coaches, but dude is a beast. He looks like Nuk Hopkins did after year two. He will definitely be one to watch during fall camp.
*We will have even more from this afternoon’s session, which begins in a couple of hours.
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org