Heisman winners and receivers highlight start of Swinney's high school camp


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Former FSU QB and New York Knicks point guard Charlie Ward
Former FSU QB and New York Knicks point guard Charlie Ward

CLEMSON – Dabo Swinney’s high school camp is underway, and while most of the big name prospects will be in next week, Tuesday afternoon’s opening session didn’t lack for star power.

And by star power, I mean two Heisman Trophy winners. ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard and former Florida St. quarterback and New York Knicks point guard Charlie Ward were both in Clemson, and Howard had his picture taken with Swinney at Howard’s Rock.

Ward brought three players to the camp – son and wide receiver Caleb Ward is a junior at Pensacola’s Booker T. Washington High School, where Ward coaches. His daughter, Hope Ward, is a kicker, and she was with the kickers on Jervey Meadows. Ward also brought 2018 wide receiver, Mystikal McGhee. None of the above have offers, but the camp circuit prior to the junior year is a good place to start.

I asked Ward if Clemson looks different than the last time he was here, and he admitted that the last time he was anywhere near Death Valley was in September of 1992 when the junior quarterback led Florida St. to a 24-20 victory over the 15th-ranked Tigers.

*Speaking of star power……wide receivers coach Jeff Scott has some pretty good assistant coaches helping him out with a bevy of recruits. Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow, Artavis Scott and Mike Williams are all coaching. That kind of star power can only help recruiting.

Helping out with the defensive ends are former Tiger stars Da’Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp, and former quarterback Willy Korn is also on hand. I talked to Korn for a few minutes, and he is heading into his fourth season coaching at Charleston Southern.

As we’ve mentioned, a lot of the stars will be out next week, but there were a few that caught our eye during the first session, and we will have more after tonight’s evening session (which starts at 6:45).

2018 wide receiver Jamario Holley out of Rock Hill (SC) Northwestern was on hand for Tuesday’s first session. He has offers from Florida St., South Carolina, and Kentucky. He got a scholarship offer from Kentucky all the way back in November of 2015 after catching 42 passes - second most on the team - for 542 yards and six touchdowns. He was coached at Northwestern by current Clemson assistant coach Kyle Richardson, and I’ve been told he sits high on Clemson’s board for 2018.

Holley is one of those quick-twitch guys, and it’s obvious that with a little more coaching and technique he can be really good. The skill set is almost there, and he’s just a rising sophomore.

Jamario Holley

Scott gathered the wide receivers prior to the start of the session, and he told them to line up with their inside leg (closest to the ball) out front, and then chided any of them who think it’s “cool” to turn the front foot. He told them they won’t see any wide receivers doing that at the NFL Combine, because looking doesn’t make the money.

He also took one receiver, had him stand with hands extended and then told him to close his eyes. Scott threw a pass the kid’s way, and the kid never moved. Scott then went into a nice teaching moment of keeping your eyes on the ball at all times.

Another wide receiver we watched was Pelion (SC) 2018 prospect Dayrun Keith. Keith worked with a group of coaches that included Cain and Renfrow, and he took every bit of coaching anyone would throw his way. He has yet to pick up an offer, but plenty of big schools are already looking his way, and the offers will start soon. He’s thicker than a lot of the stick-thin younger kids you see out there – he looks grown already – but he runs low and has a great burst off the line. He reminds me of the first time I saw 2016 commit, Cornell Powell.

Baylon Spector

One of Clemson’s 2017 commits on hand is safety, Baylon Spector. Spector has put on weight – good weight – since the last time I saw him. He actually looks the part of a big-time safety, and I wanted to stay and watch and see if the added weight had stripped him of any quickness. It hasn’t, and we’ll have more on him as the week progresses (he’s scheduled to be there all three days), as well as his little brother, 2019 wide receiver Brennen Spector.

A late arrival – he didn’t work out – was 2017 defensive Jonathan Garvin out of Lake Worth (FL) Oxbridge Academy. The 3-star prospect is being recruited by defensive coordinator Brent Venables. He has offers from Clemson, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Tech among others.



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