Spring Game Insider: Big recruiting weekend on tap, a few positions to watch
|Saturday, April 9, 2022, 8:00 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Today promises to be a perfect day to cap off Clemson’s 2022 spring practice. Despite chilly temperatures for this time of the year, any day in Death Valley is a good one and there will be plenty of high-profile recruits on hand to take in the proceedings.
There aren’t many position battles to watch this spring – 20 scholarship players are out – but there are certain players we want to watch and it starts with the play of the quarterbacks. Incumbent DJ Uiagalelei has had a good spring, but this is our first chance to see him in a game-type atmosphere since the bowl win over Iowa St. in Orlando. He plays for Mike Reed’s Orange squad.
Playing for Kyle Richardson’s White squad is freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik. Klubnik doesn’t have top wide receiver Joseph Ngata or the best running back in Phil Mafah – they are both with Uiagalelei – but he does have Brannon Spector and Dacari Collins. He won’t be able to run like he will during the season because he can be “touched down” during the scrimmage situation, but it will be interesting to see how they use him in the run game.
Back to passing for a second – there have been tweaks in the passing game and Richardson told us that they are taking the plays that don’t work out of the playbook and are putting an emphasis on post-snap adjustments (something that has been lacking), so we will be watching to see the new concepts.
Of course, we want to check out Mafah, but transfer running back Domonique Thomas is another one that bears watching. The coaches love his physical running style.
On defense, this is all about watching those defensive ends (on both sides) and looking for improvement out of defensive tackles Payton Page and DeMonte Capehart. Both should see a ton of snaps according to head coach Dabo Swinney.
Another defender worth watching – Barrett Carter. Carter has mentioned that he has played nickel this spring, but the coaches have also said he can play any position on the field. He is, in my opinion, headed for a breakout season. And we get to see the start Saturday.
On special teams, Swinney told us he has been disappointed in the punters and that is one of the few question marks he has. Kicker BT Potter has been battling true punter Aidan Swanson and freshman Jack Smith. Does someone take a step forward heading into the spring?
The game is also a showcase for several 2023 prospects. The lone 5-star in the bunch is defensive end Matayo Uiagalelei of Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco. We spoke with his mother earlier this week – he is coming to campus with her – and she said the Clemson coaches have stayed in constant contact with DJ’s younger brother.
Another top prospect will be on hand in 4-star offensive tackle Sullivan Absher of Belmont (NC) South Point. Absher is down to three finalists – Clemson, Notre Dame, and NC State – and it looks like he is closing in on a decision. Saturday’s visit could be huge.
Another 4-star worth watching is defensive end David Ojiegbe of Washington (DC) St. John’s. He’s no stranger to the Clemson campus and told us he wants to come back for an official visit at some point.
4-star OT Ian Reed of Austin (Texas) Vandegrift will also be on campus. Clemson first reached out last month so this is Reed’s first visit to the Clemson campus. He has yet to receive an offer, but again, this is his first trip and the coaches tend to wait to see a prospect in Clemson before offering.
A few others of note are safety DaShawn Stone of Asheville (NC) AC Reynolds and running back Jarvis Green of Irmo (SC) Dutch Fork. A few 2024 prospects on hand are linebacker Myles Graham of Atlanta (GA) Woodward Academy, running back Boo Carter of Chattanooga (TN) Christian School and cornerback Kaleb Beasley of Nashville (TN) Lipscomb Academy.
The Tigers have just one commit for 2023 (Nathaniel Joseph), and a big weekend could go a long way towards gaining momentum heading into the summer visits and Swinney’s high school camps.