CLEMSON RECRUITING

Clemson early enrollees getting 'great experience' by participating in bowl prep
Khalil Barnes is one of three mid-year enrollees who have been practicing with the team already and is going down to the Orange Bowl with the team.

Clemson early enrollees getting 'great experience' by participating in bowl prep


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Three of Clemson’s Class of 2023 early enrollees have been participating in bowl practice with the Tigers, and two more could join the team for practice in Florida.

A rule change by the NCAA allows for early enrollees to get a head start on their collegiate careers. NCAA bylaw 14.2.1.1 - Practice Prior to Initial Enrollment states that “A student-athlete may practice during the official vacation period immediately preceding initial enrollment, provided the student has been accepted by the institution for enrollment in a regular, full-time program of studies at the time of the individual's initial participation; is no longer enrolled in the previous educational institution; and is eligible under all institutional and NCAA requirements.”

As a result, defensive lineman Vic Burley and defensive backs Khalil Barnes and Shelton Lewis have been practicing with the Tigers and under the new rules can go with the team to Miami to practice for the Orange Bowl.

“This is new,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’ve never been able to do this. We’ve been able to bring guys in the past, maybe to do some practice here or there, but we’ve never been able to take guys with us. So I think it’ll be a great experience for them — kind of an eye-opening thing.”

Clemson has had early enrollees practice on campus ahead of bowl games, but the rule change now means that the players can travel to the bowl site with the team and participate in bowl activities. Defensive lineman Stephiylan Green and offensive lineman Ian Reed are expected to travel with the team to the bowl site, but it’s unknown whether they will be able to practice with the team.

Burley is a consensus top-80 national player from the nation’s largest recruiting services and is listed as the No. 18 overall player in the nation by 247Sports, which also listed him as the second-best defensive lineman and second-best player in Georgia. He is also Clemson’s highest-rated player in its 2023 class according to 247Sports.

Barnes is listed as the No. 20 athlete in the country by Rivals, which also listed him as the No. 42 overall player in Georgia, while On3 ranked him as No. 14 athlete and 53rd-best player in Georgia.

Reed is the nation’s No. 160 overall player by Rivals, is ranked No. 224 overall by 247Sports, and Rivals also listed him as the No. 26 player in Texas and nation’s No. 14 offensive tackle. 247Sports listed him as the No. 40 player in Texas and 22nd-best offensive tackle in the nation.

Green is a consensus top-225 player nationally and Clemson’s highest-ranked signee in its 2023 class by On3, which listed him as the No. 46 overall player in the nation, fourth-best player in Georgia and seventh-best defensive tackle.

Swinney said the experience will allow the players to get an invaluable head start.

“Just starting that acclimation process, that transition,” he said. “We can start working with them and teaching them. They’ve gotta go through a couple of days in shorts. I think a couple of them will actually be able to maybe get in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) one of the days. … Obviously, they don’t know your schemes and stuff, but you can just start that process.”

The players can do everything the eligible players can do except play in the game, and they have an added bonus – the south Florida weather.

“It’s just being in the meetings, starting that process of learning your teammates, getting exposed to some of the drill work, the terminology, those type things,” Swinney said. “And they get to have a great trip to the Orange Bowl.”

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