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Clemson football lands nationally ranked recruiting class: Swinney adds 15 new players to the 2017 roster

Kim Montuoro/ Photo Editor

Head Coach Dabo Swinney added 15 players to the roster for 2017. This recruiting class was ranked tenth nationally and included 11 four-star recruits.

Quality over quantity.  That was always the goal for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. On Feb. 1, Swinney received letters of intent from 11 future Tigers, ushering in a new class to help replace the outgoing alumni. 

With Deshaun Watson leaving for the NFL, Swinney and co. have traversed the country to find the next man up. Hunter Johnson was an early enrollee and Chase Brice recently became an official member of the team. 

Johnson comes out of Brownsburg, IN as the number one pocket passer in the class of 2017. Brice is a little bit closer to his home in Loganville, Georgia, but he will still have to compete for the limited amount of playing time there is available at quarterback. 

Travis Etienne was a very late addition to the running back corps, but could prove to be indispensable choice for a position that is also losing its starter. The hole left by Wayne Gallman could go to Adam Choice, Tavien Feaster or C.J. Fuller. If one or two of those guys falters, Etienne will be there to pick up the slack. It would be a similar situation to how Gallman secured the starting job back in 2015.

Etienne, however, will have to show better running between the tackles before he locks up the first-string spot.

A couple of good pickups in the secondary reside in the form of A.J. Terrell and Baylon Spector. It is possible Spector won’t play safety, but his predicted position is somewhere on defense and safety fits his skillset the best at this moment. 

A new wide receiver was also needed, following the departure of top guys Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers fill both of those roles admirably. While it is unlikely that both of them will start regularly, Clemson runs a receiver carousel and will give both of them some time to play during the 2017 season. Deon Cain will likely take over as the deep threat, but the rest of the roles are up for grabs. 

The offensive line wasn’t devastated by this year’s graduates, but three more linemen signed on to shore up the depth behind the starters. Matt Bockhorst, Blake Vinson and Noah DeHond all look like future starters after a year or two of work. 

The surprise of signing day was the commitment of LeAnthony Williams Jr. from Roswell, Georgia. Williams was also considering Alabama, Auburn and Florida, but chose to sign with the Tigers last minute. 

Williams is listed as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and is projected to be in the mix at cornerback after two years, probably including a redshirt year.

Dabo’s son Will also committed as a preferred walk-on. Swinney is not expected to compete for a starting job at any point in his collegiate career, but special teams could be a good fit for him. Swinney Jr. won’t be the only coach’s son on the team after this year as Brent Venables’ son is set to join the team in 2018 as a linebacker. 

“I’ve never recruited anyone who has worked harder to achieve his dreams than my son,” Swinney added. “He’s special. I just couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t wait to get up this morning and introduce him.”

The next year for Clemson football will be a telling one. The offense will be retooled and a new quarterback will be running the ship. The 2018 class is already starting to take shape and Clemson is working hard on getting ahead of the curve.  

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