Thomas Austin, the star offensive lineman for Camden (S.C.) High, committed to Clemson over the summer, and is considered a firm pledge. The offensive guard, who prides himself on a strong work ethic, feels like Camden’s 7-2 record has been strong, given some circumstances that have emerged during the season.
“We lost to two good teams, including the No. 2 team in the state by eight points, but we lost two linemen to ACLs already. I’ve been playing guard but I had to move to center for a week because of injuries."
Growing up in the Palmetto state, Austin felt his loyalties pulled in two different directions, between South Carolina and Clemson. But he often found himself rooting for a different team entirely: Auburn, for which his uncle played on a 1957 NCAA championship team.
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“I was very impartial toward Clemson and South Carolina in the whole recruiting process, but I had some people on both sides pressuring me a little bit to go to the different schools,” Austin said. “Still, I grew up as an Auburn fan, so Clemson just kind of grew on me. Even though people were trying to talk to me about going to different places, I haven’t been excommunicated from different circles or anything.”
His commitment to Clemson hasn’t scared away some other schools, though.
“I still get a bunch of mail but it’s starting to drop off some,” he said. “South Carolina still calls every week and Maryland called a couple times. Still, it would take a lot to shake my commitment. If the coaches got fired, like Coach Bowden [Head coach Tommy] and Coach Scott [Offensive line coach Brad], I might have to re-think it. But I’d probably only re-think my commitment if the coaches got fired.
“I talk to Coach Scott a lot, he’s my recruiting coach, and Coach Bowden too,” he said. “I think they’ll be all right. The university has a huge buyout clause [of $4 million] after this year, so I think they’ll be there. At South Carolina I talk to Coach Richard Stockstill. He’s the receivers coach and my recruiting coordinator. I went to the Ole Miss – South Carolina game and got to talk to him a lot there. That was a good time.”
From all indications at Clemson, Austin's concerns would appear to be unfounded. Bowden received a new contract following last season, and Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips has said on numerous occasions that Bowden will return.
Autin is ranked as the No. 11 overall prospect in South Carolina.