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National Signing Day preview, predictions

David Perez, Contributor

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables and his wife Julie Venables.

This is the first cycle in NCAA history that recruits could sign before the official National Signing Day, which takes place on the first Wednesday in February every year. It was an early Christmas for most football programs when recruits got a chance to ink themselves during a three-day period in late December. Clemson celebrated by signing the most five-stars the school has ever recruited in one cycle, and that was just the early signing period. 

The Tigers have already enjoyed an incredible recruiting season, currently owning the number eight composite recruiting ranking in the nation. Including five-stars: quarterback Trevor Lawrence, defensive end KJ Henry, defensive end Xavier Thomas, offensive tackle Jackson Carman and wide receiver Derion Kendrick have already signed along with nine others. All of these players will have a chance to battle for a starting spot which is tremendous considering the amount of competition each will face at their respective positions.

The best part, though, is that the fun isn’t over. Although many have already signed, there are some top recruits left. Clemson has been recruiting cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. over the past few months. 

Unfortunately, as the top cornerback and one of the top defenders this cycle, he is the most coveted player on the board. 

Currently, 247Sports has Surtain penciled in for LSU with Alabama as the second most likely school to land him. Clemson already has four-star Kyler McMichael at the same position, but you can never have enough depth in the secondary. Last year, Clemson’s injuries were so bad that it forced wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud to have to suit up as a cornerback for a few games as an emergency replacement. A signature from Surtain would be a big win for Clemson at a position of neccessity.

Wednesday is bound to have some surprises as well. Two years ago, No. 1 overall Rashan Gary was almost certainly going to sign with Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, but, in a dramatic twist, it was leaked that he might change his mind to Clemson at the last second. He ultimately didn’t, but the possibility that the number one player could have changed his mind in less than 24 hours was too much for most media outlets to handle. 

Running back Lyn-J Dixon was a bit of a surprise for Clemson during December’s signing period. Dixon ranked as the seventh ranked running back in the nation, but Clemson already has two top  

running backs in Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster. The “TNT” power-duo has had great success on the field and it seemed like Clemson wouldn’t recruit tailbacks as heavily this cycle. Lo and behold Dixon signed and will strengthen the depth at a premium position. 

Other possible targets for Clemson to land are four-star wide receiver Justyn Ross, four-star athlete Mario Goodrich, four-star safety Leon O’Neal Jr. and three-star safety Trevon Flowers.

What’s important for Clemson is the fact that they have the power to hang with the big boys. Teams like Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and others have had prominent pasts as top football schools; places where the best recruits dream about going. This year’s recruiting cycle prospects indicate that Clemson has finally reached that upper echelon of the elite schools.  

No matter what happens on National Signing Day, Clemson has an incredible 2018 class of players. 10 of the total 21 5-star players that Clemson has ever recruited, according to 247Sports, will be on Clemson’s 2018 team. Half of Clemson’s best recruits of all time will all be on the same team gunning for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance. The only direction from here is up.  

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