Big recruiting weekend on tap as new ops center opens


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Xavier Thomas will be on campus this weekend
Xavier Thomas will be on campus this weekend

Every recruiting weekend this time of year is big, but there are times when a recruiting weekend takes on the description of huge.

This weekend’s Junior Day is huge for the Clemson coaching staff, in more ways than one as they open up the new Football Operations Center for some of the best prospects for the 2018 recruiting cycle.

The staff is busy putting the finishing touches on moving into the facility this week. I talked to Thad Turnipseed, the Director of Recruiting and External Affairs, late last week and he halfway jokingly told me to not call unless I was able to move desks and chairs this week.

The tentative schedule for the new facility is that everything is supposed to moved and in place by this Thursday, and the recruits coming in this weekend will get the first extended look at Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s new playground (it has a slide and putt putt so it’s a playground).

The grand opening will be on National Signing Day.

The coaching staff will host all three commits for the 2018 recruiting cycle, and of course that includes the nation’s top-ranked player for 2018 in 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville (GA). Lawrence quietly committed to Clemson in late December, and this will be his first visit to campus since that commitment.

Joining Lawrence are fellow 2018 commits Mike Jones, a 4-star linebacker, Bradenton (FL) IMG, and Jake Venables, a 3-star linebacker out of Central (SC) Daniel.

The 5-star brigade doesn’t end with Lawrence, however. One of the biggest names in the 2018 class is 5-star defensive tackle Xavier Thomas out of Bradenton (FL) IMG. The Florence product announced that it would be a battle between Clemson and South Carolina for his services, and many wondered if Clemson’s chances took a direct hit when former defensive ends coach Marion Hobby left for the NFL last week.

Thomas tweeted out that it would affect his decision, then deleted the tweet. This will afford the Clemson coaches a chance to sit down with Thomas, show off the new facilities, and perhaps introduce Thomas to new defensive line coach Todd Bates, provided Bates clears the background check and is already on staff.

Another 5-star in town is another 5-star IMG talent in defensive tackle Taron Vincent. Vincent has Florida St., Ohio St. and Alabama in his top group, but Michigan has made inroads because the Wolverines recently hired his high school coach (you read that right).

The final 5-star scheduled to make a visit is Patrick Surtain, Jr., out of Plantation (FL) American Heritage. Surtain has already had visits from defensive coordinator Brent Venables and defensive backs coach Mike Reed in the last few weeks, and he will be joined on this weekend’s visit by his father, former NFL cornerback Patrick Surtain, Sr.

Another high-profile prospect worth noting is Jamaree Salyer, a 4-star offensive lineman out of Atlanta (GA) Pace Academy. Salyer hasn’t been on campus since visiting last spring, and Clemson didn’t get one of his game-day visits last fall so this will be a chance for recruiter Tony Elliott and the coaching staff to make some inroads for one of the top offensive line prospects in the region.

Other notables

Jordyn Adams, 4-star wide receiver, Blythewood (SC)
Derrik Allen, 4-star safety, Marietta (GA) Lassiter
Nana Asiedu, 4-star offensive tackle, Stafford (VA) North Stafford
Josh Belk, 3-star defensive tackle, Richburg (SC) Lewisville
Tyson Campbell, 4-star cornerback, Plantation (FL) American Heritage
Brendon Harris, 4-star safety, Chattanooga (TN) Baylor School
Derion Kendrick, 4-star wide receiver, Rock Hill (SC) South Pointe
Kyler McMichael, 4-star athlete, Duluth (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian
James Mitchell, 4-star tight end Union (VA) Big Stone Gap
Mustapha Muhammad, 4-star tight end, Missouri City (TX) Ridge Point
Stephon Wynn 4-star defensive lineman, Bradenton (FL) IMG

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