Clemson Raids Georgia For 2014 Talent
By Eric Russell
The Clemson Tigers have been solid in the state of South Carolina with recruiting, but early on, its 2014 class is also filled with talent from neighboring Georgia. Head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff have gotten verbal commitments from a big chunk of the top talent from the state.
Clemson has long held a verbal commitment from Deshaun Watson, the state's top quarterback. In the month of May, the Tiger's added Georgia's second-ranked running back Adam Choice, the No. 1 receiver Demarre Kitt , No. 1 tight end Milan Richard — some question whether he'll stay — and Korie Rogers, the No. 2 linebacker.
The recruiting pattern seems to have paid off for the Tigers as well. Currently Clemson sits in the top 10 on Rivals' rankings of the 2014 recruiting classes. The class could potentially feature a few stars.
Watson is the most prized of the commitments the No. 1 quarterback in the nation verbally committed back in February of 2012, midway through his sophomore year of high school. Watson's accuracy is what has made him the top quarterback. He is the all-time leader for passing yards and touchdowns for the state of Georgia and became only the second player to throw 50 touchdowns in a single season.
The biggest thing for Clemson may be holding on to him. Watson made headlines in recent weeks due to a secret visit he took to Auburn. While ESPN reported that Watson said he wasn't impressed by anything at Auburn and remains committed to his decision, Clemson knows all to well about the shakiness of a verbal commitment. Watson has offers from several prominent programs. Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Miami are just some of the schools who have joined the race to land him.
Despite the Watson drama the last few weeks of May were good to the Tigers. Choice, Rogers and Kitt all announced their intent to sign with the school in late May.
Choice is the cousin of Buffalo Bills' running back Tashard Choice and is going to be making the move from quarterback to running back at the next level. Choice ran for more than 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns in his junior year as the quarterback in a wildcat-style offense at Gainesville High School. He will go into his senior year with a chance to break some of his school's rushing records. The 5-foot-9 back is elusive as a ball carrier.
The Tigers most recent additions include Kitt and Rogers.
Kitt originally chose Georgia over Clemson last April, but he had a change of heart in October. Kitt is a receiver with great hands and the ability to pick up yards after the catch. He comes from a program that has been known for producing talented receivers: Sandy Creek High School. NFL star Calvin Johnson also attended the school in Tyrone, Ga.
Rogers is an imposing, physical linebacker with good tackling ability. He had more than 100 tackles last season for Buford high and also recorded 12 sacks. The 6-foot-1 200 pound Rogers will be coming into a Clemson linebacker core that will be crowded as the Tigers still have some targets they want to land at the position.
The 2014 class is shaping up to be one of the best in recent years for Swinney, and the Georgia talent is a big part of that. The Tigers are a few months away from a showdown with Georgia on the football field, but they have already taken the lead in the recruiting battle landing some of the state's most coveted prospects.