Three-Point Stance: Clemson, RCS surprises, Pitt
Rivals national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman takes a look at how Clemson might be trending in the wrong direction, highlights five surprises from the Rivals Camp Series in Philadelphia and wonders why Pitt isn't getting more love on the recruiting trail.
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1. CLEMSON TRENDING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
Dabo Swinney and his program are in a really precarious position. After years and years of being among college football elite, there’s a growing sense that Clemson could be slipping. There isn’t much room at the very top of the game and it could be tough for Clemson to stay up there with the way the Tigers have been recruiting.
Alabama and Georgia are running the college football world right now and that’s not a coincidence since they’ve had multiple top recruiting classes in the last few years. Clemson hasn’t had more than one top five recruiting class lately, but the Tigers have developed prospects really well and it certainly helped having generational quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence lead the team. DJ Uiagalelei is very talented and could turn things around this season, but he’s going to be looking over his shoulder at star Cade Klubnik.
Regardless of what happens with either of the quarterbacks, it’s really difficult to see Clemson recruiting at a level it needs to without embracing the NIL world we’re living in and working the transfer portal. Every top program in the nation is making major strides on both fronts, while Clemson seems stuck in its ways.
Swinney still sticks to his “no visit” policy for players that are verbally committed. All of the top coaches in the college football world have embraced the transfer portal and NIL, and have continued to recruit players that are committed while they take other visits. Swinney decided not to be flexible in any of these areas and he could be handicapping his team in the process.
The Tigers also saw key assistant coaches leave the staff this season and backfilled those positions with assistants that don't have nearly as much experience coaching and recruiting at a high level. There are a lot of question marks about this Clemson team, and it will be interesting to see if the narrative changes this fall when games begin.
2. SURPRISES FROM PHILLY'S RIVALS CAMP SERIES
We’ve known about wide receiver Oluwakoleade Osinubi for a few years now, but he really has taken his game to another level. He did a good job creating separation and had excellent hands throughout the day. He used his length as an advantage as well and it was definitely something that we hadn’t seen from him before.
James Heard‘s younger brother, Ausar, is just in the seventh grade but he already holds a West Virginia offer and it’s easy to see why. He more than held his own against the older players and he's strong enough to beat press coverage while not getting knocked off of his routes.
Army defensive tackle commit Matt Gemma did not arrive with a lot of name recognition but he really turned some heads during the 1-on-1 session. He bullied offensive linemen and was surprisingly quick for how large he is. Don’t be surprised to see an uptick in his recruitment.
3. WHY ISN'T PITT GETTING MORE LOVE ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL?
What more do Pat Narduzzi and his staff need to do? They just produced a Heisman finalist in quarterback Kenny Pickett, and he was the first quarterback taken in this year‘s NFL Draft. They also had the best receiver in the nation. Oh, and remember Charlie Partridge? He’s just one of the best defensive line coaches in the game. So where are the results on the recruiting trail? How are recruits not flocking to this team right now?
There are opportunities for early playing time and there are clearly coaches that know how to develop players there. Yes, the offensive coordinator and receivers coaches from this past season are no longer there, but Narduzzi has shown he has the ability to make good hires and the infrastructure of the program remains the same.
I expect Pitt to have a big summer on the recruiting trail like it has in years past, but it’s puzzling to see highly rated recruits continue to overlook the Panthers. Western Pennsylvania is loaded with talent this recruiting cycle, but it’s hard to see many of them ending up staying home at this point. And it’s not for lack of effort or results from the Panthers.