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2014 Clemson Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


Clemson Tigers 20134 ... Head Coach: Dabo Swinney


Clemson Tigers

2013 Record: 11-2
8/31 Georgia W 38-35
9/7 South Carolina St W 52-13
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/19 at NC State W 26-14
9/28 Wake Forest W 56-7
10/5 at Syracuse W 49-14
10/12 Boston College W 24-14
10/19 Florida State L 51-14
10/26 at Maryland W 40-27
11/2 at Virginia W 59-10
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/14 Georgia Tech W 55-31
11/23 Citadel W 52-6
11/30 at South Carolina L 31-17
Orange Bowl
1/3 Ohio State W 40-35


Clemson | The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Retooling the offense. QB Tajh Boyd is gone, as is 1,000-yard rusher Roderick McDowell and leading receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. Coordinator Chad Morris may hold the blueprint for offensive success, but he’ll have a bunch of unproven players carrying out his plans in 2014. The Tigers will spend much of the offseason auditioning skill players for openings, with the quarterback battle between senior Cole Stoudt, sophomore Chad Kelly and early enrollee Deshaun Watson commanding center stage.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Skill players. Deshaun Watson might be the next great Clemson quarterback, and the place has become a factory for wide receivers with Trevion Thompson and Artavis Scott the new stars of the show. Adam Choice is a blazer of a running back with sub-4.4 speed, and tight end Cannon Smith is a great prospect with next-level potential. LBs Korie Rogers for the inside and Richard Yeargin and Chris Register on the outside will be the foundation for the defense. There are decent options in the secondary and front, but the defense isn’t close to as strong as the offense.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 12. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linebackers. The running game is getting high-end help with backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman coming in, and Mike Williams is a fun receiver who could see time right away, but the Tigers are bringing in some phenomenal linebacker prospects. Ben Boulware will eventually be a star in the middle, while Jayron Kearse and Dorian O'Daniel are fast prospects for the outside. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano was an interesting pickup from Hawaii who has all the talent and potential to be the next great Tiger lineman.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 13. That Class Was Heavy On ... Lowered expectations. Head coach Dabo Swinney appears to be putting together another terrific class, but it’s asking for way too much to come up with an instant game-changer like Sammy Watkins. Even so, this receiving corps is about to get even better with a few good four-star types to be ready to roll when Watkins bolts for the NFL as soon as humanly possible. The defensive line will get the most attention and should be the strongest part of the haul. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 9. That Class Was Heavy On ... The passing game. After a few yeas of focusing mostly on the defense, the Tigers came up with something for the offense that struggled last year with three new quarterback prospects and several dangerous receivers with Sammy Watkins, a five-star talent with next-level upside, and Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant, two big, strong receivers who could be involved immediately. Eric MacLain is one of the nation’s top tight ends. Defensively, Corey Crawford isn’t Da’Quan Bowers, but he’s a pass rusher who might make some noise this year.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 21. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Dabo Swinney did a nice job loading up on defense, while also getting a few key pieces for the offense including receiver Martavis Bryant and tackle Reid Webster. Josh Watson and Corey Crawford should quickly become terrors for the defensive front, and Jake Nicolopulos Justin Parker will be key starters in the linebacking corps by 2012, but the strength is in the secondary where corners DeAndre Hopkins and Darius Robinson are speedy defenders with All-ACC potential. Bashaud Breeland is the key safety signing with excellent size and great range.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 45. That Class Was Heavy On ... ends. Even with Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers bringing quickness off the edge, Clemson had little luck getting to the quarterback in 2008. Malliciah Goodman and Spencer Shuey have been brought in to push the starters and kickstart a tired pass rush. Once he sharpens his fundamentals and adds a few more pounds, Goodman has the blazing speed and long arms to be a real nuisance to ACC quarterbacks.

Orange Bowl
Clemson 40, Ohio State 35
Basically … Tajh Boyd threw five touchdown passes and ran for another, but he threw two memorable picks, unable to get one pass over Vonn Bell on the goal line, and almost giving away the game on a late interception. However, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller gave it right back in the final moments, not seeing LB Stephone Anthony. Martavis Bryant gave the Tigers a 20-9 lead in the second on the first of two three-yard touchdown catches, but Ohio State came back with 20 straight points for the lead. Then it was all Boyd with touchdown passes to Watkins and Bryant before the Buckeyes seemed to take control. Miller threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more, finding Carlos Hyde for a 14-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth for a one-point lead, but the offense couldn’t get back on the board. Boyd was great – starting out the scoring on a 48-yard touchdown, but Sammy Watkins was better, ripping apart the Buckeye secondary from 34 and 30 yards out on the way to a record-setting Orange Bowl day.

- Penalties: Clemson 15 for 144 yards – Ohio State 6 for 60 yards
- Turnovers: Ohio State 4 – Clemson 2
- Third down conversions: Clemson 7-of-13 – Ohio State 2-of-13 - Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 31-of-40 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns with two picks, and ran 20 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. - Clemson WR Sammy Watkins caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
- Clemson DE Vic Beasley made five tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss.
- Ohio State QB Braxton Miller completed 16-of-24 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns with two picks and ran 18 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns.
- Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde ran 25 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.
- Ohio State LB Joshua Perry made a game-high ten tackles with a sack.
- Ohio State P Cameron Johnston punted five times averaging 48.2 yards per kick putting three inside the 20

at South Carolina 31, Clemson 17
Basically … Mike Davis broke open a 17-17 tie with a two-yard run, and Brandon Wilds caught a 26-yard touchdown pass as South Carolina pulled away to end a turnover-plagued night from the Tigers. Clemson turned it over six times with Tajh Boyd throwing two picks, but running for an eight-yard score. Connor Shaw started out the scoring for the Gamecocks with a three-yard run and hit Shaq Roland on a nine-yard touchdown pass on the way to a 17-7 lead, but the Tigers came back with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal at the end of the first half and a four-yard Roderick McDowell run to tie it in the third. But the turnovers were too much to overcome, and South Carolina took advantage.
- Turnovers: Clemson 6 – South Carolina 0
- South Carolina QB Connor Shaw completed 14-of-26 passes for 152 yards and a score, and he led the team with 94 yards and a score on 22 carries.
- Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 19-of-27 passes for 225 yards and two picks, and he ran for 16 yards and a score.
- Clemson RB Roderick McDowell ran 14 times for 111 yards and a score.

at Clemson 52, Citadel 6
Basically … Clemson rolled up a 42-0 halftime lead thanks to five Tajh Boyd touchdown passes to five different receivers along with a fumble return for a score from Quandon Christian. Citadel broke up the run with a third quarter field goal, but Clemson answered with ten points including a two-yard Daniel Rodriguez touchdown catch.
- Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 21-of-28 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns.
- Three Citadel players combined to complete one-of-five passes for -4 yards.
- Clemson RB Roderick McDowell ran 21 times for 108 yards.
- Clemson outgained Citadel 558 yards to 176.

at Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 31
Basically … Tajh Boyd left the game with an injured collarbone in the third quarter, but not before he threw four touchdowns passes and ran for a score. Boyd found Sammy Watkins from 41 and 44 yards out, connected with Martavis Bryant for a 76-yard touchdown, and threw a four-yarder to Mike Williams. Clemson took a 27-7 lead before Georgia Tech got a home run of its own on a 65-yard touchdown dash from Robert Godhigh, the first of two rushing touchdowns. Clemson backup quarterback Cole Stoudt put the game well out of reach with a 13-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
- Boyd appeared to be fine after leaving with his injury. He completed 20-of-26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns with a pick, and he ran 15 times for 43 yards and a touchdown.
- Georgia Tech outrushed Clemson 248 to 168 with Robert Godhigh leading the way with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
- Georgia Tech DE Jeremiah Attaochu made five tackles with two of the team’s four sacks.
- Clemson WR Martavis Bryant caught five passes for 176 yards and a score, and Sammy Watkins caught five balls for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Clemson 59 at Virginia 10, Nov. 2
Basically … Virginia knotted the game at 7-7 on a six-yard David Watford scamper with five minutes left in the first quarter. It was all Clemson from that point forward. The Tigers scored the game’s final seven touchdowns, including Sammy Watkins’ second touchdown reception, a 96-yarder from Tajh Boyd. A 35-7 halftime lead allowed head coach Dabo Swinney to empty his bench and get reps for the backups in the second half.
- Clemson outgained Virginia 610-277.
- Virginia completed only 19-of-46 passing attempts for 163 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.
- Three different Tiger quarterbacks, Boyd and backups Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly, combined to go 34-of-45 for 435 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
- The Cavaliers punted 12 times and were 6-of-22 on third-down tries.

Clemson 40, at Maryland 27
Basically … Clemson was a little sluggish out of the gate, but Chandler Catanzaro hit three of his four field goals in the first quarter, and Tajh Boyd ran for a touchdown and threw for another as the offense woke up late. Maryland got a 71-yard Levern Jacobs touchdown catch in the first quarter, and Caleb Rowe threw two more touchdown passes in the fourth, but two Clemson touchdowns in the fourth from Roderick McDowell put it away.
- Clemson can be forgiven if it wasn’t exactly sharp early on, but it woke up late when it had to. The three turnovers were overcome with four takeaways from the defense, but the offense moved the ball and cranked up yards with 304 passing yards from Tajh Boyd and 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries from Roderick McDowell to put it away.
- Keep on pushing. Clemson will almost certainly end up with an at-large BCS spot by winning out, and while it wasn’t great, it got the win. The Virginia game will be all about focus in what should be a blowout, and then it gets fun with Georgia Tech and South Carolina in the final three games.

Florida State 51, at Clemson 14
Basically … Jameis Winston connected with Kelvin Benjamin for a 22-yard touchdown pass less than 90 seconds into the game, and it didn’t get any better from there for Clemson. Winston finished with four touchdown passes and found Rashad Greene for a 72-yard touchdown pass in the second and on a 17-yarder in the third to go along with a two-yard rushing score on the way to a 51-7 lead before Clemson got in the end zone with 13 seconds to play on a Cole Stoudt run. The Tigers scored on a three-yard Sammy Watkins catch late in the first quarter, but that only made it a 17-7 FSU Lead.
- Florida State committed 12 penalties. That was about it in terms of negatives as the Seminoles looked like a legitimate national title contender. Could Jameis Winston handle a tough environment? 22-of-34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns with a pick. Could the Seminole defense keep Tajh Boyd in check? It allowed 156 yards through the air from Boyd. Could the line generate a pass rush? Four sacks. It all worked.
- There’s still a whole bunch to play for. The national title is gone for Clemson, and the ACC championship could be up in smoke, but there’s still a BCS carrot at the end of the stick. At 11-1, it’s in, and outside of Georgia Tech and South Carolina, there isn’t anyone left who can be a problem if, and it’s a big if, everyone’s head is on straight after this.
- It’s almost like Clemson was shocked that Florida State didn’t wilt out of the gate, and then it didn’t seem to have any confidence after the first few drives. Tajh Boyd was all over the place. He had time, but he was wildly erratic completing 17-of-37 passes for 156 yards and a score with two picks. FSU had something to do with it, but he was off.
- Now the pressure will be on as the true hunted. There’s still the showdown with Miami, and there’s the date at Florida to close out the regular season, but if the Noles are good enough to beat Clemson like this, they’re good enough to blowout everyone else on the schedule.

at Clemson 24, Boston College 14
Basically … Clemson struggled for three quarters, and then, down 14-10 in the fourth, it got a six-yard Tajh Boyd touchdown run and a 13-yard Vic Beasley fumble return for a score to finally take over. Sammy Watkins caught a 48-yard touchdown pass and Chandler Catanzaro hit a 35-yard field goal, but Boston College had the lead on a 38-yard Myles Willis run and a 69-yard touchdown catch from Alex Amidon. The Amidon score was the only time the Eagles got close to scoring range in the second half.
- The Tigers were going through the motions offensively, fizzling out time and again despite a few nice drives. The two turnovers didn’t help, but give Boston College credit for holding firm on third downs. Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for 33 yards and a score, but the offense was hardly sharp.
- Boston College was outgunned and outmanned, but it got two really big offensive plays to stay alive, and the defense was phenomenal on third downs. The linebacking corps kept the Clemson running game under wraps, and while there wasn’t enough pressure on Tajh Boyd, the secondary did a nice job on third downs.
- The Eagles can play. They pushed Florida State a little bit, and now they had Clemson in trouble. Virginia tech is still coming up, but there’s no one on the schedule they can’t beat if the run defense continues to be such a positive. To get by a few of the better ACC teams, though, 2.4 yards per carry won’t cut it.
- Give Clemson punter Bradley Pinion credit for keeping BC pinned deep. He averaged 43.4 yards per kick and put three of his punts inside the 20. The Eagles didn’t do anything with a long field, but the field position didn’t help the Tiger offense much until late. Defensively, the pass rush was decent. Vic Beasley did his part with a sack and his key late touchdown.

Clemson 49, at Syracuse 14
Basically … Clemson was explosive and effective as Tajh Boyd threw five touchdown passes including a 60-yarder to Adam Humphries on the opening drive and a 91-yarder to Sammy Watkins. Syracuse hit a home run of its own with a 66-yard Jerome Smith touchdown run, but Clemson stayed comfortably ahead, getting up 35-7 going into halftime on a 40-yard touchdown catch from Martavis Bryant.
- This was Clemson at its best. It was a potentially dangerous road game in a sometimes hostile environment, and Tajh Boyd – who hit 20-of-27 passes for 455 yards and five scores - all but put the game away in the first minute. Boyd got time and he bombed away for big scoring play after big scoring play. Forget about the brain cramp – the Tigers were focused.
- Syracuse couldn’t stop the Tiger receivers. The secondary kept getting caught, even though the defensive front generated pressure on Boyd. Jay Bromley and the front seven got behind the line, but it didn’t happen enough to stop the bombs.
- The Orange running game worked just fine, cranking up 323 yards helped by a few huge runs, but the offense needed the passing attack to fly to keep up the pace. Terrel Hunt completed just 8-of-24 passes for 52 yards and three scores, while Drew Allen completed 3-of-4 throws for 17 yards and an interception.
- There’s a reason Vic Beasley is rocketing up draft boards. The Clemson defensive end cranked out five tackles with two sacks. He’s unblockable.

at Clemson 56, Wake Forest 7
Basically … Clemson’s offense was firing on all cylinders from the start, getting up 21-0 in the first quarter on two of Tajh Boyd’s three touchdown passes with a 64-yarder to Sammy Watkins and a 75-yarder to D.J. Howard. Wake Forest got on the board late in the first on a ten-yard Sherman Ragland scoring grab, and that was it – the Tigers scored 35 unanswered points highlighted by a Boyd touchdown run and two one-yard scores from C.J. Davidson.
- There was no messing around. Clemson did exactly what it was supposed to do to a far, far weaker opponent, putting the game away immediately and never letting Wake Forest think this was a game. Tajh Boyd joined Phil Rivers as one the only ACC players to account for 100 career scores. He completed 17-of-24 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and led the team with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown.
- Wake Forest had to abandon the running game almost immediately, and that’s been a problem lately. Unfortunately, Tanner Price wasn’t able to keep up the pace with the passing game. He completed 14-of-22 passes for 125 yards and a score, but Clemson didn’t allow anything deep. There was one decent big play, but that was it.
- Clemson’s defense isn’t getting enough credit. It spent almost all afternoon in the Demon Deacon backfield, making three sacks with ten tackles for loss – the pressure was coming from all sides.
- The Wake Forest D couldn’t get off the field, especially early on. Clemson hit home runs early on, and Tajh Boyd managed to convert third down play after third down play. The Demon Deacon offense was never in control of anything.

Clemson 26 … at NC State 14
Basically … Clemson finally turned on the offense after a sluggish start, settling for two long Chandler Catanzaro field goals early and getting three Tajh Boyd touchdown passes, with two to Martavis Bryant from 30 and 15 yards away, to pull away from the Wolfpack. NC State had a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter on a 21-yard dash from Shadrach Thornton, but didn’t get back on the board until a Pete Thomas four-yard dive late in the fourth.
- It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but for Clemson, style points don’t really matter. As long as it keeps its focus, keeps on winning, and keeps showing enough pop to get by, it’s in the national title hunt. Tajh Boyd’s Heisman chances might be kaput after a mediocre 24-of-37, 244-yard, three score day, but he got the win.
- NC State moved the ball well, but two turnovers and nine penalties were just enough to disrupt any offensive groove. Pete Thomas spread the ball around well and ran for 30 yards and a score, but unlike Tajh Boyd, he couldn’t get the key play at the right time to change the momentum. The Colorado State transfer will win several games for the Wolfpack, though.
- Clemson linebackers Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony combined for 25 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, but the night belonged to Vic Beasley, who showed off his phenomenal quickness and first step with three sacks and five tackles with two broken up passes. When he had a little bit of space, it was over.
- NC State senior linebacker Robert Caldwell was camped out in the Clemson backfield with four tackles for loss and 13 tackles. He didn’t generate a sack, but he was disruptive. For the most part, the Wolfpack did a nice job of keeping the high-octane Tiger playmakers under wraps.

at Clemson 52, South Carolina State 13, Sept. 7
Basically … No. 4 Clemson was on the winning end of a glorified scrimmage with South Carolina State, getting all of the points it needed on a pair of first-half pick-sixes from Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson. A week after winning the epic showdown with Georgia, the Tigers used this Saturday to build depth and get the starters to the sidelines as quickly as possible.
- Clemson's ability to bolster its depth was never more evident than when QB Cole Stoudt trotted off the sidelines. Tajh Boyd's caddy finished the day 19-of-20 for 143 yards, three scores and no interceptions.
- The Tigers might want to spend a little extra time on pass protection this week. Clemson allowed four sacks to an FCS opponent, including two of Boyd, which will need to be addressed before ACC play begins.

at Clemson 38, Georgia 35, Aug. 31
Basically … In a wild shootout that lived up to the billing. Tajh Boyd ran for two touchdowns, Sammy Watkins came up with an electrifying 77-yard touchdown catch, and Roderick McDowell barreled for 132 yards to hold off the Dawgs. Georgia kept up the pace, highlighted by Todd Gurley touchdown runs from 77 and 12 yards out, but a botched snap on a late missed field goal turned out to be the difference. Aaron Murray barreled in for a one-yard score late, but Georgia couldn’t get the onside kick.
- Everything about this game lived up to the billing. Everything. The quarterbacks were fantastic, the defenses struggled, it was a wild shootout, and the running backs were all-world.
- Georgia isn’t out of the national title hunt. It’s probably playing for the BCS championship by running the table, but that’s a tall, tall task now.
- Todd Gurley had the No. 1 overall pick look with 154 yards and two scores on just 12 carries, but Roderick McDowell was every bit as effective with his hard 132 yards on 22 carries. He wasn’t as flashy, but he got the job done.
- It’s not fair – it’s really, really not fair – but even though Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 passes for 323 yards with a pick, he didn’t pull out the win in a really big game.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … Once Heisman-contending QB Tajh Boyd announced he was returning to school, the Tigers were instantly stamped the favorite to win the ACC. Clemson is coming off its fourth 11-win season ever and a stirring defeat of LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Head coach Dabo Swinney has the program chugging in the right direction.

Why To Be Grouchy … the D made strides in Brent Venables’ first year as coordinator, but more progress is needed in 2013. The staff is particularly concerned about a secondary that gave up too many long balls last fall, and now must insert three new starters into the lineup. Rookies, such as recent blue-chip recruit Mackensie Alexander could be forced to play right away.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … protecting the quarterback. Boyd will be Boyd, but only if he has time to locate open receivers. The Tigers were 85th nationally in sacks allowed a year ago, and the anchor of the line, C Dalton Freeman, has used up all of his eligibility.

Team Concerns For 2013: Defensive backs. The Tiger secondary wasn't anything special last season, and now it has to replace three starters and could use more options. The offensive line need a few more options to develop for the near future - the pass protection has to be stronger. The Tigers need to improve on special teams with one of the ACC's worst punt return games and mediocre kickoff return production.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Linebackers. The running game is getting high-end help with backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman coming in, and Mike Williams is a fun receiver who could see time right away, but the Tigers are bringing in some phenomenal linebacker prospects. Ben Boulware will eventually be a star in the middle, while Jayron Kearse and Dorian O'Daniel are fast prospects for the outside. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano was an interesting pickup from Hawaii who has all the talent and potential to be the next great Tiger lineman.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 13. That Class Was Heavy On ... Lowered expectations. Head coach Dabo Swinney appears to be putting together another terrific class, but it’s asking for way too much to come up with an instant game-changer like Sammy Watkins. Even so, this receiving corps is about to get even better with a few good four-star types to be ready to roll when Watkins bolts for the NFL as soon as humanly possible. The defensive line will get the most attention and should be the strongest part of the haul. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 9. That Class Was Heavy On ... The passing game. After a few yeas of focusing mostly on the defense, the Tigers came up with something for the offense that struggled last year with three new quarterback prospects and several dangerous receivers with Sammy Watkins, a five-star talent with next-level upside, and Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant, two big, strong receivers who could be involved immediately. Eric MacLain is one of the nation’s top tight ends. Defensively, Corey Crawford isn’t Da’Quan Bowers, but he’s a pass rusher who might make some noise this year.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 21. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Dabo Swinney did a nice job loading up on defense, while also getting a few key pieces for the offense including receiver Martavis Bryant and tackle Reid Webster. Josh Watson and Corey Crawford should quickly become terrors for the defensive front, and Jake Nicolopulos Justin Parker will be key starters in the linebacking corps by 2012, but the strength is in the secondary where corners DeAndre Hopkins and Darius Robinson are speedy defenders with All-ACC potential. Bashaud Breeland is the key safety signing with excellent size and great range.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 45. That Class Was Heavy On ... ends. Even with Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers bringing quickness off the edge, Clemson had little luck getting to the quarterback in 2008. Malliciah Goodman and Spencer Shuey have been brought in to push the starters and kickstart a tired pass rush. Once he sharpens his fundamentals and adds a few more pounds, Goodman has the blazing speed and long arms to be a real nuisance to ACC quarterbacks.


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