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Clemson mid-year enrollees to watch

Ashleigh Snyder
Mid-year enrollees Nolan Hauser (81) and Sammy Brown (47) talk on the field ahead of the Gator Bowl on Dec. 29, 2023.

It is evident that head coach Dabo Swinney made it a priority to replenish depleted positional groups in the 2024 recruiting cycle, and his efforts paid off as he earned the No. 15 slot in ESPN’s class rankings. The countdown is on for next season to see the talents of these signees come to life, though 15 of the 22 will be on campus this semester.

The public’s first look at the 2024 team will come in April during Clemson’s annual spring game, which offers free admission for all in Death Valley. Here, spectators will have a chance to see the talents Swinney and his recruiting staff have brought in this cycle.

The most popular name on the list of rising freshmen is five-star linebacker Sammy Brown. Brown’s current list of accolades is jaw-dropping: 247Sports named him as its No. 1 “Freak Athlete,” MaxPreps named him as the nation’s top all-around athlete – joining the ranks of Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray and Derrick Henry – and he received the 2023 High School Butkus Award for the top linebacker in high school football.

His statistics support the hype. In his senior year alone, he amassed 153 tackles, 12 for loss, three blocked punts and two interceptions. The most exciting prospect Brown brings, besides his physicality, is his versatility: as a running back, he tallied 36 rushing touchdowns and 2,289 yards on the ground.

A Peach State native, Brown also won back-to-back state championships in wrestling and posted a time of 10.7 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Safe to say, all eyes will be on him ahead of next season.

Brown’s presence will likely lessen the blow of the departure of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and possibly even running back Will Shipley, who both declared for the 2024 NFL draft.

Joining Brown as the only other five-star in the class of 2024 is wide receiver Bryant Wesco Jr., who is ranked as a consensus top 10 receiver in the nation by outlets such as ESPN, 247Sports and On3. In his high school career, he tallied 109 career receptions for 1,903 yards and 29 touchdowns as he looks to join the team’s current leading receiver Tyler Brown downfield.

It is no secret that one of Clemson’s larger deficits this season lay in their kicking game, but Swinney hopes to have the remedy this offseason in the form of the No. 1 kicker in the nation, Nolan Hauser. He holds the all-time record for high school field goals in the nation with 66, taking over the former record of 56, which had stood since 2013, according to 247Sports. His 66 field goal makes on 81 attempts earned him an 81.5% conversion rate, in addition to a career-long 53-yard field goal.

Swinney recently brought in former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke to take charge of an offensive line unit that has struggled in recent seasons. The coaching change will be bolstered by the addition of four linemen enrolling this spring as the Tigers look to add much-needed depth to the room.

Clemson’s young secondary has blossomed thanks to the production of freshmen Khalil Barnes, Shelton Lewis, Avieon Terrell and Kylon Griffin. Although they face the loss of playmaker Nate Wiggins to the NFL draft, this solid core will have the next semester to bring five mid-years up to speed, four of which are four-stars and one three-star.

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About the Contributors
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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