The Opening Insider: Clemson commits shine, 5-star defensive end talks recruiting


by - Senior Writer -
Paul Tchio earned an invite to The Opening Finals
Paul Tchio earned an invite to The Opening Finals

STOCKBRIDGE, GA – Clemson was everywhere you looked Sunday at The Opening Atlanta Regional at Stockbridge High School. Some recruits showed off Clemson wristbands, while wide receiver prospect KeAndre Lambert was all too happy to show his Clemson gloves.

That didn’t include the conversation among parents and coaches about the ascendance of the Tiger football program.

We will start with a brief conversation with a parent. I was talking to a Georgia high school coach when a parent overheard us talking about Clemson. He came over to listen in and then decided to interject.

“I am the biggest Bama fan there is,” he said. “But that National Championship Game? I saw that first interception returned for a touchdown and then Trevor Lawrence throw that touchdown pass, and you know what I did? (Mimics changing the channel.) I turned it over to the WWE. I didn’t hear the score until the next morning. Best decision I’ve made all year.”

That’s the rarefied air where Clemson exists right now, with one of the Nike coaches telling me, “There are really three schools that kind of get who they want, and that’s Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia, with Ohio St. kind of being that fourth school that is in between those three and everybody else.”

The headline recruit was 5-star defensive Myles Murphy, the player that everybody wants.

“They’re all hitting my phone every day as much as possible,” Murphy said when he was asked about which school contacts him the most.

That includes Clemson defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall.

“He’s a very down-to-earth man,” Murphy said of Hall. “So, it’s not all the time we’re just talking football. He’s asking about my family, how my dad is doing, how my brother is doing up in college… It’s not rare, but it’s not often where it is just straight football.”

Murphy will visit Clemson a week from today, the only visit he has scheduled.

“On my next visit, I’m just going there for academics,” he said. “I’m going to go to the engineering facilities, see what they have and really just compare them to other facilities at other colleges, see which one will give me the best step forward in the real world.”

Murphy said that Clemson, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State are the schools that stand out right now.

“I’m going to have it narrowed down at the end of the summer, and then I’m going to make my decision in August,” he said.

Which school will get his services?

“I have a notebook at home that has all the pros and cons of each school,” he said. “Whichever school has the most pros and which one I have a better feel at, where I feel at home, where I feel like I can make the most friends at, the best relationships with, that’s the school I’m going to choose.”

Two Clemson commits made the most of their opportunity.

Offensive line commit Paul Tchio (pronounced Tio, the “ch” is silent) moved around the line Sunday and showed not only good hands but good footwork. He shined at right guard and wanted to move over to tackle but ran out of time. During the 1-on-1 sessions, he consistently stymied the defender and as a result, earned an invite to the finals in Texas in late June.

We will have more on his interview later, but he told me he is making it his personal crusade to ensure that Clemson has the best recruiting class “in history” in 2020.

“I talk to DJ Uiagalelei almost every day, and I talk to Bryan Bresee almost every day,” Tchio said. “I tell DJ all the time that we have his line in place, we just need the quarterback, and I want him to be my quarterback. We are going to have the best player at every position. I talked to Myles Murphy today a little bit and told him we needed him”

Linebacker commit Kevin Swint was another that not only impressed on the field – he was fantastic in coverage – but also admitted that he’s recruiting every chance he gets.

“I am really excited about this recruiting class,” Swint said. “I think this will be the best recruiting class to come through Clemson. But we still have to come together when we get there, but I don’t think that will be a problem. We are building a bond together. We are like a brotherhood. We haven’t known each other that long but we get to know each other every day. We are recruiting as hard as we can, just talking to the other recruits and showing them how it is. There is no fake love because everything at Clemson is real. DJ, Bryan, and Julian (Fleming), I talk to them every day.”

He then said he hopes good news comes from multiple fronts when Clemson plays the annual spring game on April 6.

I’ll close this with comments on two big Clemson wide receiver targets that were in attendance in EJ Williams and KeAndre Lambert. The Opening Regionals have lost a little punch in the last few years, and Sunday’s showcase was no exception. The quarterbacks were awful, and it was hard to get a gauge on the receivers’ pass-catching abilities.

KeAndre Lambert with one of the best catches of the day

However – Williams and Lambert were the two that really stood out. Lambert (wearing Clemson gloves and orange and white cleats) is lean and fast, and he consistently blew past people. He even went high to grab a pass (well overthrown) by the end of the ball and brought it down for a catch (see the pic).

At one point, he turned to one of the coaches and said, “You need to get some new DB’s. I’m tired of running over these guys.”

The coach just laughed.

As for Williams – he attends the same high school in Alabama that sent Justyn Ross and Ray Thornton to Clemson, and he is still very good friends with both of those guys. He reminds me of Ross with his frame and his long strides. He’s also strong at the point of attack with defenders and doesn’t have a problem creating separation with either his speed or his physicality.

I’ve been told he has a decision date in mind and we will find out shortly when that is. Right now, Clemson looks to be in great shape.

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