Sunday, August 3, 2014 2:43 PM
The scoop on Clemson's mid-year enrollees
by Nikki Hood
Staff Writer

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he still doesn’t feel comfortable talking about high school prospects six months before national signing day, but that didn’t stop him from smiling Friday when talking about the 13 recruits that signed financial aid agreements with the school.

Last year, the NCAA said that a prospect who intends to graduate from high school in the middle of an academic year and enroll early at a university may sign a financial-aid agreement on or after Aug. 1 of his senior year. This allows high school midyear-graduating seniors to sign scholarship papers six months before the letter-of-intent signing period opens in February.

Traditionally, midyear enrollees have signed, after beginning college coursework, with the remainder of their recruiting classes in February. This ruling gives those players an opportunity to secure their scholarships before the start of their senior years.

Last Friday, 13 Clemson commitments signed the financial aid papers – wide receiver Shadell Bell, quarterback Kelly Bryant, defensive back Kaleb Chalmers, offensive line Jake Fruhmorgen, offensive lineman Zach Giella, offensive lineman Noah Green, offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt, quarterback Tucker Israel, athlete Ray Ray McCloud, defensive back Tanner Muse, linebacker Chad Smith, defensive back Van Smith and tight end Garrett Williams.

During Friday’s press conference to discuss the opening of fall camp, Swinney talked about the mid-year enrollees.

On filling the need on offensive line

“We signed four offensive linemen – Jake Fruhmorgen, Mitch Hyatt, Noah Green and Zach Giella. That was a big focus for us and a critical need for our team. Having four outstanding offensive line prospects arriving on campus in January is tremendous. We’ve got guys moving on after this year – three or four seniors this year – and these guys are all made of the right stuff.

“They love to play. They’re big, strong, and athletic. I kid with them all of the time and tell them that I have picture of them and that I’m going to bring it to their senior banquet and show them where they came from because I know what they are capable of accomplishing.”

On signing dynamic wide receivers

“We signed two wide receivers. Shadell Bell is a big, long wide receiver – the kind of guys that we like to bring in here. He’s another guy that I’m excited about because he knew what he wanted to do. He tracked me down at a ball game and said, ‘Hey coach, I want to be a Clemson Tigers. I’ve always wanted to be a Clemson Tiger.’

“We got a guy named Ray Ray McCloud and I don’t quite know what to classify him as. He’s a great football player. He’s very dynamic and we’re going to be able to do lots of things – line him up in the backfield, at wideout, and on returns. I’m awful excited that he chose to join us.”

Quarterback duo

“Quarterback was another big need for us. We lose Cole Stoudt David Olson. We needed to address that and we did that. I’m real excited about Tucker Israel. He jut jumped out us. Chad Morris was the first to get on him and it paid off. And the, Kelly Bryant is a big physical guy – 6-3 or 6-4 and 200-plus pounds. We more than addressed our need.”

Garrett Williams

“We were only going to take one tight end in this class. We targeted a few, but we got the one that we want in Garrett Williams from Down in Orlando. He was a guy that has played offense and defense but he will play tight end for us at over 230 pounds now. He’s a great young man that comes from a great family. His dad played at Florida State. I think he was the one that handed the ball off on the Puntrooskie play, so I think it’s only fitting that his son is playing at Clemson.”

Defensive signees

“Defensively, we signed two safeties, one corner and one linebacker. Tanner Muse and Van Smith are what we’re looking for at the safety position. Muse will probably play baseball for us here. He’s big and strong. We’ve got two very good athletes. A kid that I’m very excited about is Kaleb Chalmers. He’s one of the best young corners that I’ve seen come through our camp. To watch him up close, he is put together. He is physically blessed.

“Chad Smith is a guy that not a lot of people knew about. Brent Venables did a great job recruiting him and evaluating him. He’s got what you’re looking for in a linebacker – size, toughness, smart, and he loves football. We’ve all learned what a dynamic personality he has. It didn’t surprise any of us how he competed at The Opening. He’s another one that knew what he wanted to do and he will be an excellent leader in the 2015 class.”

On what’s left to do to complete the 2015 class

“We’re about done, but recruiting is always a changing process. You just never know. If you would’ve told me last year that Patrick DeStefano and Giff Timothy weren’t going to play anymore, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Sometimes guys leave or get hurt. It’s hard to say that this is it – you have to respond and react but you also have to have a plan. It’s a dynamic that you have to keep your finger on it. We’re about done. We’ve got one or two spots left and we’re going to call it a day and we’re happy to do it. I don’t have buyer’s remorse. You fill your needs and when you’re done, you’re done.”

Bios on the mid-year enrollees

Shadell Bell, WR, Decatur, GA

Ranked #205 in the nation among all players by Rivals.com and #262 in the ESPN.com 300...rated as #31 receiver in the nation by ESPN.com and the #24 player in Georgia...Rivals.com ranks him as #24 receiver and #24 player in Georgia...as a junior had 45 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns...also played outside linebacker in high school...com-mitted to Clemson on November 23, 2013..recruited by Marion Hobby...signed financial aid agreement on August 1, 2014.

Kelly Bryant, QB, Piedmont,S.C.

Ranked as #124 player in the nation by Rivals.com...#13 Dual Threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com...#4 player in state of South Carolina by Rivals.com...ranked as #7 quarterback in that nation by Rivals.com as well#15 quarterback in the nation by 247 Sports...recruited by Chad Morris...committed to Clemson on April 17, 2014...as a junior at Wren High School threw for 2,800 yards and 28 touchdowns against just nine interceptions...rushed for 1,200 yards and 19 scores as well as a junior, giving him 47 total touchdowns in 2013...cousin of former Tiger and current Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Kaleb Chalmers, DB, Greenwood, S.C.

Ranked as the #166 player in the nation by 247 Sports....ranked as #11 player in South Carolina by 247 Sports...#27 cornerback in the nation by ESPN.com...had 80 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes broken up as a junior at Greenwood High...had 45 tackles and four sacks as a sophomore....recruited by Mike Reed....committed to Clemson on April 12, 2014...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Jake Fruhmorgen, OL, Tampa, Fla

Among the top 100 players in the nation by 247 Sports (#74), Rivals.com (#87) and ESPN.com (#95)...#4 offensive tackle in the nation by 247 Sports...ranked as #10 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com...#15 overall player in Florida by 247 Sports...#8 offensive tackle in the nation by ESPN.com...narrowed his decision to Clemson and Florida...recruited by Tony Elliott...helped Plant to an 11-2-1 season in 2013...committed to Clemson on April 10, 2014...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Zach Giella, OL, Augusta, GA

Ranked as #31 offensive tackle in the nation by ESPN.com, giving Clemson four of the top 31 in the nation in this recruiting class...#44 overall player in state of Georgia by Rivals.com...recruited by Chad Morris...committed to Clemson on May 14, 2014...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Noah Green, OL, Boiling Springs, S.C.

Participated in The Opening in Oregon in July...#15 offensive tackle in the nation by ESPN.com...#7 player in South Carolina by 247 Sports, and #8 player in the state by Rivals.com... ranked as #181 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com...4-Star prospect by ESPN...recruited by Jeff Scott...committed to Clemson on September 28, 2013...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Mitch Hyatt, OL, Suwanee, GA

Unanimous 5-Star prospect...actually named a five-star before his junior year...nephew of former Clemson All-ACC defensive tackle Dan Benish, a starter on Clemson’s 1981 National Championship team....a consensus top 25 player in the nation entering 2014 by 247 Sports (#14), ESPN.com (#17) and Rivals.com (#22)...invited to The Opening...listed as #2 player in Georgia by 247 Sports and #2 offensive tackle by Rivals.com and 247 Sports...#5 player in Georgia by Rivals.com...helped his North Gwinnett team to a 13-2 record and state championship game appearance as a junior...participated in The Opening in Oregon in summer of 2014...recruited by Tony Elliott...committed to Clemson on February 5, 2014...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Tucker Israel, QB, Orlando, Fla

Number-12 Dual Threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com…prolific quarterback with 10,588 passing yards entering his senior year…in 2014 threw for career best 3,979 and 40 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions…as a sophomore in 2012 threw for 3,685 and 36 scores with just eight interceptions…also rushed for 200 yards and here scores…as a sophomore completed 188-309 for 2,924 and 30 touchdowns…already has 106 touchdown passes…4-Star signal caller by ESPN.com…Recruited by Chad Morris….committed to Clemson on February 4, 2014…signed scholarship papers with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Ray Ray McCloud III Ath, Tampa, Fla

Ranked as the #26 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com...also ranked #101 by 247 Sports and #150 by ESPN.com...#11 athlete in?the nation by ESPN.com...competed in The Opening in Oregon in summer of 2014...ranked as #2 athlete by Rivals.com and #8 player in state of Florida... had a big junior year with 293 rushes for 2,316 yards and?26 touchdowns...also had nine receptions for 192 yards and a score... averaged 7.9 yards per rush in 2013...recruited by Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott....committed to Clemson on July 28, 2014...selected Clemson over UCLA and Florida...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson 8-1-2014

Tanner Muse, DB, Belmont, N.C.

Helped South Point High School to 13-1 record and the state quarterfinals in 2013...had two punt return touchdowns and an interception return for a score...named to 201 Watch List for All-State...ranked as #19 player in North Carolina by Rivals.com and #20 player in the state by 247 Sports...#31 safety in the nation by Rivals.com...nominated for US Army All-America game...had 60 tackles and five interceptions as a sophomore in 2012...recruited by Dan Brooks...committed to Clemson on December 8, 2013...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson, 8-1-2014.

Chad Smith, LB, Sterling, Va.

Ranked as #180 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com...#24 outside linebacker in the nation by ESPN.com...#9 player in Virginia by Rivals.com and #14 player in the state by 247 Sports...#11 linebacker in the nation by Rivals.com as well...participated in The Opening where he was the third ranked all-around athlete after competition with the other 161 players there...played his high school football for Paul Troth...played linebacker, tight end, receiver and safety over his high school career...as a junior in 2013 had 94 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, including six sacks... also had 900 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns as a running back...recruited by Brent Venables...committed to Clemson on April 10, 2014... signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Van Smith, RB, Charlotte, N.C.

Committed to Clemson on August 31, 2013, the day of Clemson’s victory over Georgia to open 2013 season...played at West Mecklenburg High his first three years, he helped that team to a 9-3 season in 2013...will play at Hough High as a senior...father is a high school football coach...All- Mecklenburg County as a junior when he played on both sides of the ball... ranked as #245 player in the nation by 247 Sports...#11 player in North Carolina by 247 Sport and #12 player in the state by Rivals.com...#16 player in North Carolina by ESPN.com...#42 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com...recruited by Danny Pearman...signed scholarship papers with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Garrett Williams, TE, Orlando, Fla.

Ranked as #114 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com and #144 by Rivals.com...#2 tight end/H back in the nation by ESPN.com...Rivals.com lists him #3 for the position...competed in the Under Armour Combine....son of former Florida State running back Dayne Wiliams, who played against Clemson in the famous 1988 Puntrooski game...his dad actually took the direct snap on that play and handed it forward to Leroy Butler between Butlers legs....Butler then raced 78 yards to set up Florida State’s winning field goal....dad was two-year starter at Florida State for Bobby Bowden...as a junior, Garrett had 76 tackles, including 10 sacks... as a sophomore had 75 tackles, 13 sacks and scored seven touchdowns... chose Clemson over Florida State and Stanford... recruited by Jeff Scott... committed to Clemson on May 19, 2014...signed financial aid agreement with Clemson on August 1, 2014.

Nikki Hood can be reached at nikki@tigernet.com