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12/29: Cotton Bowl Halftime Report

Score: Clemson 23 Notre Dame 3

Key Events:

Derion Kendrick’s kickoff return was initially ruled a fumble inside the ten, but it was overturned by a sliver (out of bounds) and thus Notre Dame lost a chance to make a 3-3 tie a 10-3 lead.

The game was a defensive slugfest until Julian Love left the game with an injury – Trevor Lawrence took advantage of his absence and threw a 52-yard touchdown to Justyn Ross, the first of three first-half touchdown throws. Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds remaining may have been the dagger for the Irish.

Positives:

Trevor Lawrence has moved within the pocket well, evading defenders multiple times to fire off a pass. Justyn Ross has played exceptionally well as his current favorite target, with five catches, 137 yards, and two scores at the half.

Clemson’s defense held on while Clemson’s offense established a rhythm and built a lead – now the Tigers can play with their ears pinned back and even more aggressively.

Areas for Improvement:

Clemson’s pass protection is not doing Trevor Lawrence any favors. Despite his two scoring touchdowns, he has taken major hits that could impact his play in the second half.

The Tigers have made several poor plays on special teams: a barely overturned fumble on a kickoff return, a missed 49-yard field goal, a blocked extra point, and a punting average of 38 yards per punt make for a discouraging special teams performance.

What to Watch:

Clemson’s last touchdown with two seconds left in the half gave the Tigers a major boost into halftime. If Notre Dame wants to close the 20-point lead, they will need to have Julian Love and others healthy, and gain offensive momentum fast.

12/27: Cotton Bowl Preview

Unless Oklahoma wins the national championship, an undefeated team will win the national championship for the first time in the CFP’s five-year history. Furthermore, if Clemson or Alabama wins the champion will be the first 15-0 FBS National Champion. Two of the three undefeated teams will face off in the infamous stadium known as “Jerry’s World” as the Cotton Bowl hosts Clemson and Notre Dame. 

Each team has faced adversity throughout the year, but this will be each team’s toughest test. Notre Dame has the signature win against a highly ranked opponent that Clemson does not have – a 24-17 win against Michigan in the season opener. On the other hand, Clemson played an extra game when they defeated Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship game.

To get the elephant out of the way – it is unlikely that Dexter Lawrence, Braden Galloway, or Zach Giella will play in the Cotton Bowl. Coach Swinney expressed his support for the trio as they tested positive for trace amounts of a banned substance likely found in dietary supplements (unmarked). Losing junior draft prospect Dexter Lawrence will hurt Clemson significantly in the Cotton Bowl, while losing current role players Giella and Galloway will hurt in 2019 as they will likely face a one-year suspension. While the suspensions are unfortunate, Clemson has depth at the defensive tackle position to handle the loss of Lawrence.

Both teams changed quarterbacks midstream from more run-centric players to more pass-centric players and subsequently transformed their offenses into complete threats. Both of senior quarterbacks lead their teams to signature wins (Notre Dame vs Michigan, Clemson at Texas A&M). Notre Dame’s junior Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush while Clemson’s true freshman Trevor Lawrence replaced Kelly Bryant. 

Notre Dame runs the ball slightly more than Clemson, and they tend to rely on one running back. Dexter Williams is Notre Dame’s starting running back, and he has averaged almost eighteen attempts per game in his eight games. Clemson utilizes more running backs than Notre Dame, as Etienne only carries the ball 13.5 times per game. 

 In the passing game, both teams are formidable but the storyline is flipped. Clemson passes more than Notre Dame and uses more receivers (eight WRs with ten or more catches), whereas Notre Dame relies on their three main wide receivers more often. What Notre Dame has that Clemson lacks is a true threat from the tight end in the passing game – Alize Mack has 34 catches on the year, which is almost double the seventeen catches Clemson’s tight ends have combined in 2018.

While both defensive and offensive lines for both teams are quality, Clemson holds the advantage in the trenches. Clemson’s incredibly deep defensive line will cause problems for any offensive line, especially one that is good but not elite like Notre Dame’s. 

The Irish have an excellent passing defense, but in order to take advantage of it they will have to make Trevor Lawrence uncomfortable in the pocket (see the first half of the Boston College game). While the Irish have two excellent defensive ends in Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, it takes more than two linemen to generate a pass rush for sixty minutes. 

Notre Dame’s back seven is among the best in the nation, with Julian Love as an elite corner and Jerry Tillery as an elite linebacker. Their linebackers are capable of containing Clemson’s run game, and their secondary is a big reason why they boast an elite passing defense. This will be the Tigers’ toughest test on defense, as there is no weak link to exploit.

The pundits and bookies think that Clemson should win this game easily, and on paper it looks as if they should. Championship football is usually close though, and in that case special teams plays a vital role. The Tigers have been up and down on special teams this year, and they need an elite performance on special teams to win if the game is close.  

Oddshark’s projected score is Clemson 45.8 – Notre Dame 31, and Clemson is favored by 12.5 points. The over/under is 56.5, and sixty percent of the bets have been placed on the over. 

Prediction: Clemson 31 Notre Dame 17

Tigers Turn Up the Intensity in Wednesday Workout

ARLINGTON, Texas – Clemson went through its customary Working Man Wednesday practice with a lively, two-plus hour workout at AT&T Stadium.

The severe weather outside did not squelch the Tigers’ intensity inside on the turf as the team went through its most physical practice of the week.

“You can tell the guys are getting eager to play,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “Today was our last day of good on good. We cranked the music up and created some noise. I thought the guys were very focused and into it.”

With the matchup against the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) just three days away, Swinney said he is pleased in how his second-seeded Tigers have gone about their business in a workmanlike way to be in the proper physical and mental mindset for success on Saturday.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a defense to practice against like we do. And then our defense has an offense to practice against because it’s hard to simulate what you’re going to see on game day,” added Swinney. “But for us, we can do that. So it was a very intense day from that standpoint. We got done what we needed to do.”

A couple of former Dallas Cowboys standouts were on hand for Clemson’s third practice in North Texas. Charlie Waters, a three-time letterwinner for the Tigers, played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Cowboys. George Teague, a college teammate of Swinney at Alabama, played five of his nine NFL seasons for Dallas.

After practice, the team is set to enjoy some NBA action between the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Center. Thursday, Clemson is back at practice in the afternoon following a visit to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic celebrates its 83rd anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 29. Live coverage on ESPN is set for 3 p.m. CST, with kickoff slated for 3:10 p.m.

This marks the fifth consecutive year for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to be a part of the ESPN bowl lineup. Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge are set to provide the call from the booth with Holly Rowe and Tom Rinaldi reporting from the sidelines.

ESPN Radio returns as the Classic’s national radio partner for the seventh consecutive year. Bill Rosinski teams with David Norrie in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons on the sidelines to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium.

Clemson Celebrates the Holiday with Family, Football

ARLINGTON, Texas – Clemson enjoyed the holiday with a day mixed with Christmas cheer and spirited work on the practice field as the Tigers went through a second full day of preparation for the 83rd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

The day began with a festive brunch at the team’s headquarters hotel complete with an appearance by Santa Claus, performances by the coaches and their families and the musical stylings of several student-athletes capped off by head coach Dabo Swinney singing a rousing rendition of Silent Night.

“For the great majority of the team, this is the first time they’ve ever been away from home for Christmas,” said Swinney. “It’s a different experience so we just tried to embrace it and enjoy this family, the Clemson family. It was a lot of fun. All the guys got into it.”

The Tigers (13-0, 8-0 ACC) kept the holiday vibes going for their afternoon practice at AT&T Stadium, opening with some Christmas music over the sound system before going to work in full pads for a two-plus hour workout. Swinney said he was pleased with his squad’s attention to detail for their customary TANOGA (Takeaways No Giveaways) Tuesday practice.

“If I walked in on a Tuesday and didn’t talk about ball security, they’d all look at me like I’m crazy,” said Swinney. “It’s a big part of the game. It creates field position for you or against you. So we pride ourselves that we are plus in the turnover margin this year. I know that will be a big part of the game Saturday night.”

Clemson returned to its hotel after practice for another Cotton Bowl Classic tradition. The team will gather for their Sign and Dine event, a private meal where the players receive autograph footballs to have their teammates and coaches sign to create personalized keepsakes from their bowl experience.

On Wednesday, the Tigers are back on the practice field in the afternoon following selected coaches and student-athletes participating in a College Football Playoff media availability in the morning.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic celebrates its 83rd anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 29. Live coverage on ESPN is set for 3 p.m. CST, with kickoff slated for 3:10 p.m.

This marks the fifth consecutive year for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to be a part of the ESPN bowl lineup. Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge are set to provide the call from the booth with Holly Rowe and Tom Rinaldi reporting from the sidelines.

ESPN Radio returns as the Classic’s national radio partner for the seventh consecutive year. Bill Rosinski teams with David Norrie in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons on the sidelines to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium.

Clemson Arrival Quotes

Clemson players and head coach Dabo Swinney take part in a press conference at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2018, one of the events leading up to the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The Clemson Tigers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will face off on December 29, 2018. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

Coach, the Tigers arrived last night. We noticed a lot of your student‑athletes are wearing cowboy hats. Looks like they’re getting into that spirit of Texas.

COACH SWINNEY: We’re excited to be here. We really are. It was a long day yesterday. But we actually got everybody back, had a little practice at Clemson, some meetings. And then had a great trip out. And guys were in great spirits. I think all the specialists wore their Christmas suits. And we had several guys wear their hats. And it was pretty fitting because, last night, they were able to ‑‑ I think all the staff ended up getting boots.

So we’re happy to be here. It’s an amazing hotel that we’re staying at. And just all the Cotton Bowl folks. This is a bowl I’ve always wanted to be a part of for a long time. So to actually have the opportunity to experience it firsthand and for our players to get such a wonderful experience ‑‑ these guys have been in Orange Bowls, Fiesta Bowls, Sugar Bowls, national championships. They’ve had some amazing experiences. And these two, in particular, because they’re both fifth‑year seniors, were also in the Russell Athletic Bowl. So they’ve had some great experiences, but this going to be amazing.

I mean, just this press conference. Usually, we show up to practice and we just gather up outside a fence or something, but everything is bigger in Texas, I guess. So here we go. We’re excited. I can’t wait to get out on the field and check this place out.

MODERATOR: Coach, if you would, please introduce your two student‑athletes and tell us a little bit about them.

COACH SWINNEY: We’ve got Kendall Joseph. This is our starting middle linebacker, number 34. He’s an unbelievable leader for us. He’s a captain of our football team. He’s a fifth‑year senior, and has been a three‑year starter, a very, very talented and dynamic young man. He’s a graduate. Hopefully, he’ll have opportunity to play some ball in the NFL, but he’s got a really, really nice job waiting on him if he chooses to do that. He’s from Belton, BHP High School, in South Carolina. And, again, just a great leader and has been a very productive player.

And then Hunter Renfrow ‑‑ yep, that’s Hunter Renfrow, for those of you who don’t know him. He’s a fifth‑year receiver as well. He’s from down in Myrtle Beach, Socastee area, in South Carolina.  Same thing, a graduate. He’s a captain, just an amazing young man, both from great families, and one of the most productive receivers we’ve ever had at Clemson.  He’s got the most starts ever for a receiver, the most catches consecutively in the history of Clemson, just a very productive football player.

And, again, two great leaders and representatives of our program.

Q. Hunter, how much more dynamic do you think this offense is this year compared to a year ago when you guys were entered in the semifinal?

WR HUNTER RENFROW: Yeah, just a little different, a little more experience, I would say. We still have Justin [Mascoll] outside that’s a freshman, and a few more freshman pieces. But I would say, just the experience we have and just being on that team last year and not finishing the way we wanted to, I think it’s definitely going to help us as we finish, hopefully well, this year.

Q. When you went through the quarterback switch, what was that like? And what has Trevor [Lawrence] brought to the offense as a freshman? And does he play like a freshman now, or could you describe him to us?

WR HUNTER RENFROW: That quarterback switch seemed like three years ago. I mean, it seems like so much time has passed. But I would say that, yeah, I mean, Trevor has had 13 games under his belt. And so he’s a freshman, I guess, still, but he plays like a sophomore.

He’s had a whole year under his belt. And he’s really just gotten better every week. And that’s the thing I would say about Trevor is, every week, he’s come and he’s gotten better. And just seeing his preparation from week to week. I got to spend some time with him in the quarterback room. And so just seeing from the third week to the fourth week to the fifth week, just how he slowed everything down, how he was able to process everything and really just command the attention of the team.

I think, after Kelly [Bryant] left, it was just a big improvement from that standpoint, Trevor kind of getting all the guys together and leading the charge.

Q. Dabo, is everybody on the roster here present and accounted for academically, eligible otherwise?

COACH SWINNEY: Yes, everybody is here. We’ve got ‑‑ we do have an issue that we’re dealing with. And, you know, I think that the best thing is to just be transparent in that. This time of year, they obviously do ‑‑ I mean, we test all year long. But, on Thursday, Dan Radakovich was notified by the NCAA we had three guys that, you know, had a ‑‑ there was an issue with their drug testing. And so been dealing with that since Thursday.

And just ‑‑ I think that the biggest thing is to make sure that, you know, everybody understands. Because I’ve had guys fail drug tests before. And, usually, when you say a guy fails a drug test, people write their own stories. And they have their own innuendoes and their own narratives, and those type of things. And, a lot of times, those things are accurate.

But, in this case, I think it’s important, very important, that the message is accurate and that the truth is told because these are three great young men, three great young men, that I believe in and that I know, without a doubt, have not intentionally done anything to jeopardize their opportunity or this team. And I want to make that real clear before I even give you their names, because I know that’s the story.

But the letter that came from the NCAA said that these three young men had a slither, a trace of some substance called Ostarine. I have no idea what Ostarine is, O‑s‑t‑a‑r‑i‑n‑e. But I have become almost an expert in it in the last three days. There’s plenty of stuff y’all can look at. But I would be willing to bet that there’s a likelihood that, if they tested all of us right now, we might all ‑‑ or some of us have something in our system that we have no idea how it got there ‑‑ a slither, a trace, a fraction.  All right?

This particular substance can come from anything. And these three players have no clue ‑‑ in fact, they thought it was a joke when I called them. They have no clue how this has gotten in their system. It could come from hair products. It could come from a cream. It could come from protein. It could come from a product that you order or buy online that you think there’s nothing wrong with it. It could be anything.  Literally, it could be a drink ‑‑ something in a drink. It literally could be anything, as I have come to learn.

And, in fact, I think there’s been 40 or so athletes over the past year or so that have had to deal with this same exact thing. And several have later come back to be vindicated. They had no idea. Then they found out where it came from.

So that’s what we’re in the process of doing. We’re trying ‑‑ we’re going to do everything we can to figure out if it is in the system. Heck, I don’t know. I mean, who’s to say that it is there? I mean, that’s what we’re being told, but there’s ‑‑ they all will have legal representation, and there will be a process to go through to find out.

But where we are right now is we got the three letters. And they have the ‑‑ this trace. And so the next step is there’s a B sample. And the B sample, they will test that. And we probably won’t know until Wednesday or Thursday on that. So we’re just kind of at the mercy of the process. And then there’s an appeal after that, but that doesn’t really help with this game. Maybe it helps for next week or, you know, next year, whatever. But that’s what we’re dealing with right now.

But I want to be very clear that these guys, this is not street drugs. This is nothing like that. But the players are Braden Galloway, Zach Giella, and Dexter Lawrence.

Obviously, Dexter is a starter and a very, very significant player on our team. Even though Zach hasn’t played as much and Braden is a freshman, they’re still missing out on an opportunity that they have worked extremely hard for.

And, again, I don’t know how ‑‑ if it even is in their system, how it got there. But I do know that these three young men have not intentionally done anything. And there’s, again, plenty of precedent where the same thing has happened across the country with other people. So, you know, there’s a process in place. And we’ll work through that.

But, from a team standpoint, we have to get our team ready to play football. We got to get our team ready to play our best four quarters of the season. That’s our goal. So we have to prepare as if it’s an injury and get the next guy ready. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. So that’s ‑‑ I think it’s just best, again, to be transparent and honest. Because I don’t want there to be any speculation at all on what we’re dealing with.

That’s exactly what we’re dealing with. And I don’t really know what else I can say about it other than I love all three of these guys. They’re three special young people. And, again, I know they’ve not intentionally done anything. And, again, this is a hair of a trace of whatever this substance is.

And so we’ll deal with it accordingly, hope for the best, hope that the B sample will come back and they’ll be cleared to play.  But, if not, we treat it as an injury. We’ve got to get ready to move forward. And our goal has not changed, just to play the best four quarters of the season.

Q. Just to be clear so we understand that, are you expecting to get some clarity on the B sample before the Cotton Bowl?

COACH SWINNEY: Yes. Probably Wednesday or Thursday.

Q. And then I know it’s something you’ve discussed about at length during the course of the season. I don’t want to belabor it. But both teams made quarterback switches, and both teams made the Playoffs. In your case, you had a veteran starter coming back. How difficult was that decision, and what were the factors that played into it, in your mind?

COACH SWINNEY: Yeah, it was a very difficult decision, for sure, because, you know, you’ve got a guy that has won for you and all that. But, at the same time, you know, your team changes every year. And, at the end of the day, my job is to play the best guys.

After four games, we felt like Trevor [Lawrence] deserved the opportunity to start the next game. I didn’t know where it would go from there, but our quarterback decided that he wanted to move on. And so that changed the dynamics for our team.

But, really, just performance, really nothing more than that. Just how he had played after four games. And, in particular, the game at Georgia Tech that we had just witnessed because it was close going into the season. And then, after four games, we just felt like that he deserved the opportunity to run out there first. And it’s not that Kelly [Bryant] would not have played. He would have definitely played and may have ended up going back. Who knows? But that’s just where we were at that time. And so really nothing more than that went into the decision.

Q. Coach, Charlie Waters played at Clemson and played here and also played for Coach [Gene] Stallings here. And he said that you remind him a lot of Coach Stallings. Giving admiration for Coach Stallings, what does it mean to hear someone say that about you?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, that’s kind of surreal for me to just even hear you say that because, in my seven years with Coach Stallings ‑‑ and y’all have heard me tell Stallings stories a lot.

His favorite all‑time player was Charlie Waters. He used to talk about Charlie Waters all the time. I didn’t have a clue who ‑‑ I mean, I knew Charlie Waters when he was a Cowboy, but I didn’t know much more about Charlie Waters than that other than Coach Stallings every year would talk about Charlie Waters.

“Brother, hey, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t do ‑‑ I tried to cut him every year, but we couldn’t cut Charlie Waters because he was smarter than everybody else, he played faster than everybody else, he saw it, he anticipated.” And he would brag on Charlie Waters and his knowledge as a player.

I didn’t know until I got to Clemson that Charlie Waters came from Clemson. So, really, kind of neat. And I’ve had a chance to meet him once or twice. So really special. That’s another great thing for me personally that we’re here in Dallas is I know Coach Stallings will be able to come and be at the game and, hopefully, maybe can make it to practice. He’s just down the road there in Paris. So that’s kind of neat, too. Coach Stallings’ grandson is with us. And it was actually in the Cotton Bowl that Coach Stallings, his Texas A&M team, beat Alabama and Coach [Bear] Bryant early in his career. So it’s pretty neat to be in this bowl.        

— College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic —

Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s comments on today’s news regarding TE Braden Galloway, OL Zach Giella and DL Dexter Lawrence

“We do have an issue that we’re dealing with. And, you know, I think that the best thing is to just be transparent in that. This time of year, they obviously do — I mean, we test all year long. But, on Thursday, Dan Radakovich was notified by the NCAA we had three guys that, you know, had a — there was an issue with their drug testing. And so been dealing with that since Thursday.

And just — I think that the biggest thing is to make sure that, you know, everybody understands. Because I’ve had guys fail drug tests before. And, usually, when you say a guy fails a drug test, people write their own stories. And they have their own innuendoes and their own narratives, and those type of things. And, a lot of times, those things are accurate.

But, in this case, I think it’s important, very important, that the message is accurate and that the truth is told because these are three great young men, three great young men, that I believe in and that I know, without a doubt, have not intentionally done anything to jeopardize their opportunity or this team. And I want to make that real clear before I even give you their names, because I know that’s the story.

But the letter that came from the NCAA said that these three young men had a

, a trace of some substance called Ostarine. I have no idea what Ostarine is. O-s-t-a-r-i-n-e. But I have become almost an expert in it in the last three days. There’s plenty of stuff y’all can look at. But I would be willing to bet that there’s a likelihood that, if they tested all of us right now, we might all    or some of us have something in our system that we have no idea how it got there — a slither, a trace, a fraction. All right?

This particular substance can come from anything. And these three players have no clue — in fact, they thought it was a joke when I called them. They have no clue how this has gotten in their system. It could come from hair products. It could come from a cream. It could come from protein. It could come from a product that you order or buy online that you think there’s nothing wrong with it. It could be anything. Literally, it could be a drink — something in a drink. It literally could be anything, as I have come to learn.

And, in fact, I think there’s been 40 or so athletes over the past year or so that have had to deal with this same exact thing. And several have later come back to be vindicated. They had no idea. Then they found out where it came from.

So that’s what we’re in the process of doing. We’re trying — we’re going to do everything we can to figure out if it is in the system. Heck, I don’t know. I mean, who’s to say that it is there? I mean, that’s what we’re being told, but there’s — they all will have legal representation, and there will be a process to go through to find out.

But where we are right now is we got the three letters. And they have the — this trace. And so the next step is there’s a B sample. And the B sample, they will test that. And we probably won’t know until Wednesday or Thursday on that. So we’re just kind of at the mercy of the process. And then there’s an appeal after that, but that doesn’t really help with this game. Maybe it helps for next week or, you know, next year, whatever. But that’s what we’re dealing with right now.

But I want to be very clear that these guys, this is not street drugs. This is nothing like that. But the players are Braden Galloway, Zach Giella, and Dexter Lawrence.

Obviously, Dexter is a starter and a very, very significant player on our team. Even though Zach hasn’t played as much and Braden is a freshman, they’re still missing out on an opportunity that they have worked extremely hard for.

And, again, I don’t know how — if it even is in their system — how it got there. But I do know that these three young men have not intentionally done anything. And there’s, again, plenty of precedent where the same thing has happened across the country with other people. So, you know, there’s a process in place. And we’ll work through that.

But, from a team standpoint, we have to get our team ready to play football. We got to get our team ready to play our best four quarters of the season. That’s our goal. So we have to prepare as if it’s an injury and get the next guy ready. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. So that’s — I think it’s just best, again, to be transparent and honest. Because I don’t want there to be any speculation at all on what we’re dealing with.

That’s exactly what we’re dealing with. And I don’t really know what else I can say about it other than I love all three of these guys. They’re three special young people. And, again, I know they’ve not intentionally done anything. And, again, this is a hair of a trace of whatever this substance is.

And so we’ll deal with it accordingly, hope for the best, hope that the B sample will come back and they’ll be cleared to play.  But, if not, we treat it as an injury. We’ve got to get ready to move forward. And our goal has not changed, just to play the best four quarters of the season.”

Fourteen Football Players Earn Degrees Thursday

CLEMSON, S.C. — Fourteen members of the College Football Playoff-bound Clemson football team earned degrees on Thursday, as 12 members of the squad were honored with undergraduate degrees at Littlejohn Coliseum, while an additional two student-athletes from the team received postgraduate degrees.

The full list of today’s graduates from the program is included below:

POSITION FIRST NAME LAST NAME DEGREE MAJOR
DE Austin Bryant BS Management
OL Gage Cervenka BS Criminal Justice
C Justin Falcinelli MBA Business Administration
DE Clelin Ferrell BA Sports Communication
OL Zach Giella BS Health Science
PK Greg Huegel BS Construction Science & Management
DT Albert Huggins BS Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
OT Mitch Hyatt BS Economics
S Tanner Muse BS Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
CB Cameron Scott BS Biological Sciences
TE Cannon Smith BA History
RB Ty Thomason BS Management
DT Christian Wilkins MS Athletic Leadership
TE Garrett Williams BS Economics

On Wednesday, the group was honored at a celebration brunch hosted by Nieri Family Student-Athlete Enrichment Center staff in the West End Zone at Memorial Stadium. Head Coach Dabo Swinney was in attendance to place student-athlete stoles on each of the football players in attendance. Ferrell and Williams also received honor cords signifying their participation in the Tiger Leadership Academy.

Swinney’s second-ranked Tigers will enter the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic with 26 players who have already earned at least one degree, the most of any bowl-bound program this season. Baylor ranks second among bowl teams with 24, and Alabama, Mississippi State and Penn State are tied for third with 22 each.

In addition to Thursday’s graduates, additional graduates on Clemson’s current roster include Adam Choice, Kyle Cote, J.D. Davis, Judah Davis, Kendall Joseph, Chris Register, Hunter Renfrow, Milan Richard, Chad Smith, Alex Spence, Trevion Thompson and Jalen Williams.

Additional Notes: Clemson Football Adds 26 In Early Signing Period On Wednesday

Included below are additional notes on the 26 student-athletes signed by Clemson on Wednesday:

  • Clemson’s 26 future student-athletes announced on Wednesday represent 14 states, the most for a Clemson signing class since 1989, Danny Ford’s last class. That ties for the most different states in a class on record. The previous high for Clemson under Head Coach Dabo Swinney was 10 different states represented in the classes of 2016 and 2017.
  • Swinney has now signed student-athletes from 24 states in his Clemson career as a head coach. This year, he signed players from California, Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania for the first time.
  • Since 1972, Clemson has signed student-athletes to football scholarships from 34 states and the District of Columbia.
  • This signing class includes six from the state of Florida, the most representatives from the Sunshine State since 2008 when a school-record nine Floridians came to Clemson. This marks just the fifth time Clemson has signed as many as six from Florida in the same signing class.
  • Clemson signed eight from the state of Georgia, the most from that state since 1998 when Tommy West’s last class featured nine players from Georgia. The record for signees from Georgia in a single class is 11 in 1985.
  • Wide receiver Joseph Ngata (Folsom, Calif.) will be first signee from the state of California to come to Clemson since 1991 when Bobby Forbes signed with the Tigers. In 1995, Dave Coggin signed with Clemson from Covina, Calif., but he never came to school, instead opting to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he played three years. Coggin’s father was a 1965 Clemson graduate.
  • Linebacker Keith McGuire (Media, Pa.) is the first student-athlete from Pennsylvania to sign with Clemson since 1995 when current Clemson quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter signed with the Tigers out of Gettysburg.
  • Quarterback Taisun Phommachanh is the first resident of Connecticut to sign with the Tigers since 1996 when Jason Martinelli and Idris Price signed with West and the Clemson program. Current Clemson All-American Christian Wilkins played his high school football in Connecticut at Suffield, Conn., but lived in Springfield, Mass.
  • After not previously signing anyone from Louisiana in 13 years, Clemson has now had a signee from that state in two of the last three years (Travis Etienne in the Class of 2017, Bryton Constantin in the Class of 2019).
  • Defensive lineman Ruke Orhorhoro is the first Clemson signee to play his high school football in Michigan since 1975 (Joe Carolan).
  • Thirteen of Clemson’s 26 signees in this class are ranked among the nation to 300 by at least one of the five major recruiting services. The highest ranking for any of the signess is held by cornerback Andrew Booth, Jr., who is ranked eighth in the nation regardless of position by Rivals.com. Booth and Frank Ladson are ranked in the top 51 in the nation by all five services. Ngata is ranked in the top 50 in four of the five. Booth is the highest-ranked Clemson signee by ESPN.com (30th) and Tom Lemming (27), and Ladson is the highest-ranked by Prep Stars (22) and 247Sports (33)
  • As far as team rankings are concerned, as of midday on Dec. 19, Clemson ranked fifth by Rivals, sixth by 247Sports and seventh by ESPN.com. Final rankings will be announced in February after the second signing period.

Swinney Named Finalist For Paul “Bear” Bryant Award

CLEMSON, S.C. — The American Heart Association announced today that Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney has been named a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award.

Now in its 33rd year, the award recognizes the country’s top college football coach for his contributions both on and off the field. The award is selected after all bowl games have concluded and is voted on by the National Sports Media Association. Swinney is one of seven finalists for the award this season:

  • Bill Clark – UAB
  • Josh Heupel – UCF
  • Brian Kelly – Notre Dame
  • Jeff Monken – Army
  • Nick Saban – Alabama
  • Dabo Swinney – Clemson
  • Jeff Tedford – Fresno State

Swinney is a two-time Bear Bryant Award winner, having collected the honor following the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Swinney will attempt to become the first three-time winner since the award’s inception in 1986, as he and Chris Petersen are presently the only two-time winners in the award’s history.

This season, Swinney has already earned the 2018 Woody Hayes Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus and Coach of the Year from the ACC. He has also been named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award and the Dodd Trophy in addition to being a semifinalist for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award.

Clemson Football Adds 26 In Early Signing Period On Wednesday

CLEMSON, S.C. — Upon the opening of the early signing period on Wednesday, a total of 26 players signed National Letters of Intent to play football at Clemson. Information on the team’s signees from Wednesday is included below.

The early signing period will conclude on Friday, Dec. 21, prior to National Signing Day on Feb. 6, 2019.

Davis Allen, Tight End, Calhoun, Georgia

In High School: Ranked as 15th-best tight end-H Back in the nation by ESPN.com … had strong senior season at Calhoun High … Region 6 AAA Defensive Player of the Year … first-team all-region on offense and defense … first-team Chattanooga All-Area … County Defensive Player of the Year … played his high school football at Calhoun High for Hal Lamb … teammate of 2019 signee Brannon Specter at Calhoun High … Clemson recruiters were Brandon Streeter and Danny Pearman … committed to Clemson on June 10, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019.

LaVonta Bentley, Linebacker, Birmingham, Alabama

In High School: Ranked as the No. 119 overall player in the nation by Prep Stars … rated as the No. 177 overall player by Rivals.com, who also sees him as the ninth-best inside linebacker and eighth-best player from Alabama … four-star by Prep Stars, ESPN and Rivals … ESPN rated him as the No. 289 overall player in the nation, the seventh-best inside linebacker and 12th-best player in Alabama … had strong senior year with 118 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four passes broken up … ranked as No. 6 player in Alabama by Al.com … Lineman of the Year by the Birmingham Quarterback Club … named Defensive Player of the Year in Birmingham … Played high school football at Jackson-Olin High for coach Tim Vakakes … Clemson recruiter was Todd Bates … committed to Clemson on July 27, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019 … LaVonta Bentley: luh-VON-tay.

Kaleb Boateng, Offensive Lineman, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In High School: One of the top offensive linemen in Broward Country, Florida, who helped Fort Lauderdale High to breakout 2018 season as athletic offensive tackle … had 49 knockdown blocks to lead the offensive line … team finished with a 9-3 record, most wins for the program since 1974 … two of the three losses were to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the top 10 teams in the nation according the USA Today … had 38 offers before selecting Clemson … made first-team All-Broward County in 2018 after starting every game … strong candidate for all-state, which had not been released at the time of his signing … ranked as the No. 3 offensive lineman in Broward County entering 2018 … ranked as No. 67 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com and No. 64 at his position by ESPN.com … in 2017, had 38 pancake blocks to lead the team … second-team All-Broward County … had 18 pancake blocks as a sophomore for the Flying L’s … played four years and started on the offensive line three years … has 80-inch wingspan … recruited by Brent Venables … played at Fort Lauderdale High for Richard Dunbar … Committed to Clemson on signing day, Dec. 19, 2018 … last name pronounced “boat-ing.”

Andrew Booth, Jr., Cornerback, Dacula, Georgia

In High School: Five-star cornerback who was ranked among the top 50 players in the nation by every service … ranked as No. 8 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com, the highest-ranked Clemson signee in this class by that service … also ranked as the second-best player in the state and the second-best cornerback in the nation … ranked as the No. 27 overall player in the nation by Tom Lemming … rated as the No. 30 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com, who also have Booth as the third-best cornerback in the nation and fifth-best player in Georgia … ranked No. 32 overall player and third-best cornerback by Prep Stars … ranked No. 41 overall player, second-best cornerback and sixth-best player in Georgia by 247Sports … three-year starter who had 162 career tackles, including 131 solo … had 13 interceptions, 44 passes defensed, four caused fumbles and a blocked field goal … on offense, had 22 receptions for 557 yards and four touchdowns … also had three punt return touchdowns over his career … as a junior, was all-state, all-region, all-county first team … as a senior in 2018, was Region Specialist of the Year, and county defensive back of the year … 2018 team captain. … selected to play in Under Armour All-American game … played high school football at Archer High School for Andy Dyer … Clemson recruiters were Mickey Conn and Mike Reed … committed to Clemson on July 30, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019.

Logan Cash, Defensive Lineman, Winder, Georgia

In High School: Led the state of Georgia in sacks in 2017 with 23.5 … had 40 tackles for loss among his 101 tackles … starter for his final three seasons and was all-region three times … all-state selection in 2017, as the 2018 all-state team had not been announced at the time of his signing … career leader at Winder–Barrow High School in sacks with 42.5 … recorded 204 total tackles in his career at Winder-Barrow High School … in 2018, played just seven games, but had 40 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and five sacks … had nine tackles, five of which were tackles for loss against Flowery Branch … had 101 tackles as a junior, he had four games with double figures … had 10 tackles, including five sacks against Habersham Central for his best game of the year … high school coach Ed Dudley said, “Logan is one of the best young men I have had the opportunity to coach in the past 35 years. His enthusiasm, energy, and passion for the game are unmatched” … Clemson recruiter was Mickey Conn … committed to Clemson on June 21, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Joseph Charleston, Safety, Milton, Georgia

In High School: A national top 150 player from Georgia … ranked No. 122 overall player by 247Sports, where he was listed as No. 13 safety nationally and No. 14 overall player in Georgia … ranked No. 150 overall player by Rivals.com, listed as the 14th-best safety and 13th-best overall player from Georgia … ESPN.com had Charleston as a top 300 player, 14th-best safety and 29th-best player in Georgia … had team-best 83 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two caused fumbles, a fumble return of 46 yards and two interceptions as a senior … had 12 tackles against Roswell and 10 against South Gwinnett … helped his team to AAAAAAA state championship, a first for the Milton High program … played his high school football for Adam Clack … primary Clemson recruiter was Mickey Conn … committed to Clemson on Oct. 10, 2017, as he was the first player in Clemson’s signing class to commit to the Tigers … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Bryton Constantin, Linebacker, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In High School: Unanimous four-star linebacker who joins Travis Etienne as Louisiana natives on the Clemson’s roster for 2019 … Top 100 player according to Rivals.com, who listed him as No. 94 overall player, fifth-best inside linebacker and seventh-best player from Louisiana … ranked as fourth-best inside linebacker in the nation by ESPN, who see him as No. 157-best overall player in the nation and 10th-best player from Louisiana … ranked No. 199 in the nation by 247Sports, he was the sixth-best inside linebacker and seventh -est player from Louisiana in their ratings … attended The Opening in summer of 2018 … helped University Lab to state championships in 2017 and 2018 … had 104 tackles, including 23 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2017 … also had two caused fumbles and a pick-six … All-Metro MVP and 3A all-state … in 2018, helped team to 13-0 record and state title … also played high school basketball … wore No. 21 in high school … high school teammate of Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses … will play in the World Bowl in Mexico on December 22, then, will play in Under Armour All-American game … played his high school football at University Lab School for Chad Mahaffey … father, Tony Harris, played college basketball at University of New Orleans, then in NBA with 76ers and Celtics … Clemson recruiter was Brent Venables … committed to Clemson on April 13, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in the summer of 2019 … Bryton Constantin: BRY-tin; CON-stin-teen

Tyler Davis, Defensive Lineman, Apopka, Florida

In High School: Rated as No. 60 overall player in the nation by ESPN and No. 74 by Tom Lemming … unanimous four-star player … ESPN listed him as No. 7 defensive tackle in the nation and seventh-best overall player in Florida … Rivals.com listed him as 18th-best defensive tackle in the nation … national top 300 player according to 247Sports, where he ranked as the No. 218 player in the nation as well as the 12th-best defensive tackle in the nation and 24th-best player in Florida … had 34 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2018 … had best game against West Orange when he had eight tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks … had an interception in 2018 as well … helped team to 11-2 record and a top 10 ranking in the state of Florida … played his high school football at Wekiva High School for Rich Bedesem … Clemson recruiter was Todd Bates … did not commit to the Tigers until signing day, Dec. 19, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Tayquon Johnson, Defensive Lineman, Williamsport, Maryland

In High School: Ranked as seventh-best player in Maryland by ESPN.com, which ranked him as 22nd-best defensive tackle in the nation … ranked as eighth-best player in Maryland and No. 29 defensive tackle by Rivals.com … ranked as 11th-best player in Maryland and 33rd-best defensive tackle in nation by 247Sports … joined the Williamsport football program in the Spring of 2017 … team captain in 2017 & 2018 … Herald-Mail Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 … Washington County (MD) Coaches Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 … Herald-Mail All Area Team as both offensive lineman and defensive lineman in 2017 and 2018 … led Williamsport High to best season in 20 years in 2017 … anchored best defense in school history in 2017 … over his last two years, had 184 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 12 sacks … had eight rushing touchdowns on goal line situations over 2017 and 2018 … after senior season was invited to USA Football National Team to participate in the 2019 International Bowl … also an outstanding wrestler, finished third in the heavyweight division as a junior, his first year of competition … also plans to compete on the school wrestling team in the winter of 2019 … honor Roll student … member of Program Leadership Council 2017 and 2018 … played his high school football at Williamsport High School for Tim Small … Clemson recruiters were Todd Bates and Mike Reed … committed to Clemson on May 14, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019 … first name is pronounced TAY-kwan.

Sheridan Jones, Cornerback, Norfolk, Virginia

In High School: Ranked among the top 100 players in the nation by ESPN.com and Rivals … ESPN.com ranked Jones as 69th-best overall player, second-best player in the state of Virginia and seventh-best cornerback in the nation … ranked 91st overall by Rivals, fourth-best from the state of Virginia and ninth-best cornerback in the nation … 247Sports ranked him as eighth-best player in Virginia … ranked as four-star prospect by all three services … two-way player, who had 45 tackles, two interceptions, one he returned for a score, in 2018 … as a receiver, had 17 receptions for 347 yards and two scores … will play in World Bowl in Mexico on Dec. 22, then will play in Under Armour All-American game in early January. … played his high school football at Maury High School under Dyrri McCain … Clemson recruiters were Mike Reed and Brent Venables … committed to Clemson on April 20, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Frank Ladson, Wide Receiver, Miami, Florida

In High School: Ranked among the top 51 players in the nation by five services … Clemson’s highest-rated player in the class of 2019 by Prep Stars, as he was 22nd overall and the fifth-best wide receiver with a five-star rating … rated No. 23 player in the nation by USA Today Chosen 25 … ranked 33rd-best overall player by 247Sports, who also listed him as the fourth-best receiver in the nation and fourth-best overall player from Florida … ESPN ranked Ladson 35th overall, third-best from state of Florida and the fifth-best wide receiver … Rivals.com ranked Ladson 36th-best overall, fifth-best from Florida and seventh-best wide receiver … noted recruiting analyst Tom Lemming ranked Ladson 51st among his top 100 players … attended The Opening in summer of 2018 … had record-setting senior year when he had 50 catches for 1,133 yards (22.7 per catch) and 13 touchdowns … set school record for receiving yards … led team to a 10-3 season in 2018 … as a junior had 29 catches for 675 yards (23.7 per catch) and eight touchdowns … over last two years had 79 receptions for 1,808 yards and 21 touchdowns, and average of 22.9 yards per reception … will play in All-American Bowl … played his high school football at South Dade High School for Nathaniel Hudson … wore No. 9 in high school … primary Clemson recruiter was Jeff Scott … committed to Clemson on April 14, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Jaelyn Lay, Tight End, Atlanta, Georgia

In High School: One of the top five tight ends or H-Backs in the nation by ESPN and Rivals … ESPN ranked Lay as the fourth best tight end/H-back, while Rivals ranked him fifth in that position … ranked as the No. 165 best all-around player in the nation and 16th-best player from the state of Georgia … ranked as the 21st-best overall tight end by 247Sports … helped Riverdale High School to an 8-4 record in 2018 … had 29 receptions for 240 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 … had 7-119 and a touchdown in 2016 … at 6-6, is tied for the tallest tight end in Clemson history … played his high school football at Riverdale High School for Rodney Hackney … Clemson recruiters were Mike Reed and Danny Pearman … older brother is a student at West Point … committed to Clemson on March 3, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January, 2019 … first name pronounced: JAY-lynn.

Keith Maguire, Linebacker, Media, Pennsylvania

In High School: Talented four-star linebacker who ranked as the best player in Pennsylvania by some services … had strong 2018 season, leading his team to third straight Inter-AC Championship in a row … as a senior, had 106 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, five sacks and four interceptions … also had 313 yards rushing and 314 receiving on the offensive side of the ball … scored 14 total touchdowns … two-time conference MVP … named all-state in 2017, and the 2018 team was not yet announced at the time of his signing … No. 219 player in the nation by Rivals.com … that service also ranked McGuire as best player in Pennsylvania and 11th-best outside linebacker … seventh-best player in Pennsylvania by 247Sports … No. 26-best outside linebacker by Prep Stars … led his conference in tackles as a junior … had a touchdown catch in 2017 that was the No. 2 play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter … played high school football at Malvern Prep for Dave Gueriera … very active in community service, he went on a 10-day trip to Dominican Republic in June to help build homes … also played on lacrosse team at Malvern … from same conference that produced Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) and Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame All-American) … Clemson recruiters were Brandon Streeter and Brent Venables … committed to Clemson on April 27, 2018 … .plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019.

Chez Mellusi, Running Back, Naples, Florida

In High School: One of the top running backs in the nation and one of the top all-around players from Florida … ranked No. 137 overall player in the nation by ESPN.com, which ranked him as seventh-best running back and 23rd overall player in Florida … 247Sports listed him as the 17th-best running back in the nation, while Rivals has him as the 20th-best running back … No. 216 player overall and 14th-best running back by Prep Stars … unanimous four-star rating … finished his high school career with 3,905 yards rushing and 50 touchdowns … had 4,409 all-purpose yards and 55 total touchdowns … eight-time Player of the Game according to Max Preps over his last two years … averaged incredible 9.3 yards per carry over 32 games and 421 carries … had 21 100-yard games … as a senior had career-best 1,819 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns … averaged 165 yards a game and 9.9 yards per rush … had three straight 200-yard rushing games early in the season … had eight games with at least 167 yards as a senior … as a junior had 1,505 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns … team reached semifinals of state playoffs … averaged 125 yards rushing per game with a high game of 219 vs. Palmetto Ridge … will play in All-American Bowl … Mellusi played his high school football at Naples High School for Bill Kramer … Clemson recruiters were Brandon Streeter and Tony Elliott … committed to Clemson on April 16, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019 … Last name pronounced: mell-OOH-see

Joseph Ngata, Wide Receiver, Folsom, California

In High School: Ranked as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, which listed him as the 21st-best overall player in the nation, fourth-best player from the state of California and fifth-best wide receiver … 247Sports ranked Ngata as 39th-best overall player, the ninth-best from California and eighth-best wide receiver … listed as 28th-best overall player in the nation by Tom Lemming … ESPN.com rated him as its No. 159 overall player … led his team to the state championship each of his final two years … led Folsom High in the 2018 state championship victory on Dec. 14 with nine receptions for 103 yards and a score … his touchdown catch with under two minutes left sent the game into overtime … team finished 14-1 in 2018 … for his high school career, had 188 receptions for 3,682 yards and 55 touchdowns … team had a 39-3 record in his three years on the varsity … had a touchdown catch in 36 of 42 career games … also had 17-yard average on rushing plays (17-236) … in 2018, had 66 catches for 1,272 yards and 22 scores, a 19.3-yard average … had six 100-yard receiving games … caught a touchdown in each of his last 10 games and 13 of the 15 games in 2018 … added 8-86 rushing … in 2017, had career-high 81 receptions for 1,777 yards and 26 scores … averaged 22 yards per catch … led team to a 16-0 record with seven 100-yard receiving games, including two games with at least 200 yards … had 12-202 against Oakdale High in 2017 … had 8-213 and career high four touchdowns against St. Mary’s in 2017 … caught at least one TD pass in 14 of 16 games … had 41-633 receiving and seven touchdowns as a sophomore … had 9-139 receiving in his first career high school game in 2016 … had a touchdown catch in seven of 11 games in 2016 … played his high school football at Folsom High School for Kris Richardson … primary Clemson recruiter was Jeff Scott … will be first Clemson signee from California to matriculate to Clemson since Bobby Forbes in 1991 … attended same high school as Washington quarterback Jake Browning … wore No. 10 in high school … will play in All-American Bowl … committed to Clemson on July 28, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019 … last name pronounced: enn-GOT-uh.

Ruke Orhorhoro, Defensive Lineman, Lagos, Nigeria

In High School: Played high school football in Michigan, becoming the first Clemson football signee from the state of Michigan since 1975 (Joe Carolan) … athletic defensive end who played just two years of high school football … ranked as 15th-best overall player in Michigan by 247Sports, 18th-best by Rivals.com and 17th-best in Michigan by ESPN.com … born in Nigeria and came to the United States when he was nine … played basketball as a youth and in high school … averaged a double-double as a sophomore … the week after his sophomore season of basketball ended in the state semifinals, he met with the school’s football coaches and decided to join the team for spring practice … did not play his first football game until the fall of 2017 … had solid 2017 and received some offers from Michigan and Michigan State … as a senior in 2018, had 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss to go with 60 tackles … scored a touchdown on a fumble return … helped team to an 8-2 season … played his high school football at River Rouge High School for Corey Parker … Clemson recruiters were Brent Venables and Lemanski Hall … has three cousins who played or are still playing college football, Michael Ojemudia (Iowa), Mario Ojemudia (Michigan) and Ovie Oghoufo (Notre Dame) … committed to Clemson on June 15, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019 … first name rhymes with juke; last name pronounced Oh-roh-roh-roh.

Kane Patterson, Linebacker, Brentwood, Tennessee

In High School: National top 300 player by three services who was standout two-way player … ranked No. 138 overall player in the nation by 247Sports, which also listed him as the seventh-best player in Tennessee and 12th-best inside linebacker … ranked No. 202 overall and fifth-best inside linebacker by Prep Stars … ESPN ranked Patterson No. 262 overall and sixth-best player in Tennessee and sixth-best inside linebacker … finished the 2018 season with 647 yards rushing on 92 carries for a 7.0 average … also had 16 touchdowns … on defense had 59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, including four sacks … led team to state championship Division II AA … was MVP of state championship game, he had 13 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns and had seven tackles on defense … found out the next day he was invited to All-American Bowl in San Antonio … as a junior in 2017, had 1,003 yards rushing in just 110 carries, a 9.1 average … had 23 touchdowns and four 100-yard rushing games … played just 12 games, he suffered knee injury in state playoffs of 2017.. … had 64 tackles on defense in those 12 games and had 12.5 tackles for loss … in 2016 as a sophomore, had 141 yards rushing and 27 tackles on defense … for career, had 42 touchdowns, all rushing, in 5 games … finished with 1,794 yards rushing on 227 carries, 7.9 yards per rush … had 258 career tackles, including 38.5 tackles for loss, 13 of which were sacks … played at Christ Presbyterian Academy for Coach Ingle Martin … wore No. 4 in high school … Clemson recruiter was Lemanski Hall … committed to Clemson on Sept. 4, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019.

Jalyn Phillips, Safety, Lawrenceville, Georgia

In High School: Four-star safety according to ESPN.com … ranked as 28th-best safety in the nation by that service … Rivals.com also ranked him No. 28 among safeties … three-year starter who finished his career with 198 tackles, 127 solos and 71 assists … had six tackles for loss, two interceptions, 12 passes defensed, on caused fumble, three recovered fumbles and a blocked punt … had 16 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown … in 2017, was an all-regional defense back … in 2018, all-region and all-county … one of the team captains in 2018 … played at Archer High School for Andy Dyer … primary Clemson recruiter was Mickey Conn … committed to Clemson on Aug. 20, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019 … First name is pronounced JAY-lynn

Taisun Phommachanh, Quarterback, Bridgeport, Connecticut

In High School: Among the top quarterbacks in the nation … ranked as 166th-best overall player in the nation by ESPN.com, who also call him the No. 1 player in Connecticut and eighth-best pocket passing quarterback in the nation … Rivals.com listed him as best player in Connecticut and fifth best quarterback in the nation … 247Sports ranked him as the fifth-best player in Connecticut and third-best quarterback in the nation … consensus four-star prospect … played his high school football at Avon Old Farms School for Pierce Brennan … played two years at Harding High School in Bridgeport and two at Avon Old Farms Prep … for his high school career, he completed 339 of 556 passes for 5,224 yards and 46 touchdowns against 12 interceptions … also had 300 rushes for 1,264 yards and 25 touchdowns, giving him 6,492 yards of total offense and 71 touchdowns … had his best year in 2017 when he had passing efficiency of 205 … completed 135-192 passes for 2,253 yards and 22 touchdowns against just one interception at Avon Old Farms in 2017 … also had 122 carries for 633 yards for another 17 touchdowns … accounted for 39 touchdowns in just nine games … took team to 8-1 record … had injury plagued 2018 and played just six games … was 73-128 for 1,066 yards and nine scores … had another 163 yards rushing and two scores … posted high school career passing efficiency of 162 … primary Clemson recruiter was Brandon Streeter … played high school prep football in Connecticut, same region as unanimous Clemson All-American Christian Wilkins … committed to Clemson on April 14, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019 … name is pronounced Tyson; PUMA-chon.

Hunter Rayburn, Offensive Lineman, Pensacola, Florida

In High School: Four-star prospect by ESPN.com who is ranked as 18th-best offensive guard in the nation … 247Sports ranked him as 27th-best offensive guard … played his first three years of high school football at West Florida Tech … played on varsity as an offensive tackle at the end of 2015 season, then started in 2016 and 2017 … team reached second round of the state playoffs in 2016 and Final Four in 2017 … also played baseball as a pitcher and first baseman at West Florida Tech … transferred to Pensacola High School for his senior year and played baseball in spring of 2018 and football in the fall … named to the all-area team on the gridiron … played in all-area All-Star game on Dec. 14, 2018 … played his senior year of high school football at Pensacola High for Mike Mincy … brother plays college baseball at Coastal Alabama … won Pensacola High FCA Award for 2018 … named to National Honor Society … primary Clemson recruiters were Jeff Scott and Robbie Caldwell … committed to Clemson on June 11, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Etinosa Reuben, Defensive Lineman, Kansas City, Missouri

In High School: Ranked as sixth-best overall player in the state of Missouri by 247Sports … ranked as 28th-best defensive end in the nation by that site … ranked as ninth-best overall player from Missouri in this class by Rivals.com and the 41st-best defensive end … ranked as 11th-best player in Missouri by ESPN and 35th-best defensive end … second signee from the state of Missouri to come to Clemson, joining Mario Goodrich, who signed with Clemson a year earlier out of the Kansas City area … only played three years of football, he has a high upside with a large wingspan … named team Defensive Lineman of the Year at Park Hill South High School in each of his final two years … first-team all-conference, all-district and second-team all-state by the Missouri Football Coaches Association … Mr. Panther Award winner at Park Hill South, the most prestigious award presented by the program … nominated for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive lineman or linebacker in Greater Kansas City … finished 2018 with 62 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, including three sacks … also recorded a safety … finished his junior year with 55 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, including three sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovered fumble … made first-team all-conference and all-district in 2018 and was a strong candidate for all-state honors, which were not yet announced at the time of his signing … played his high school football at Park Hill South High School for Mike Sharp … Clemson recruiters were Todd Bates and Brent Venables … committed to Clemson on July 29, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019 … first name pronounced “ETT-in-oh-sah”

Brannon Spector, Wide Receiver, Calhoun, Georgia

In High School: Second-generation Clemson player who played wide receiver and safety in high school … had 49 receptions for 719 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018 as a senior … had 47 tackles, five tackles for loss, and five interceptions on defense … returned one interception for a touchdown … had one of his best all-around games in the season opener, he had eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown on offense, and an interception on defense against Ridgeland … had one of his best games in the state playoffs when he had 87 receiving yards and a touchdown in a victory … Region 6 AAA Athlete of the Year … first-team all-region … first-team Chattanooga Times All-Area … County Player of the Year … in 2017 team won the state championship with a 14-1 record … played his high school football at Calhoun High School for Hal Lamb … high school teammate of 2019 Clemson signee Davis Allen at Calhoun High … showed his athletic ability at the Atlanta Regional of The Opening, where he finished second in the competition to Nolan Smith, one of the top five players in the nation … brother of Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector … his father, Robbie Spector, was a wide receiver for the Tigers who lettered from 1988-90 … Clemson won two ACC Championships when Robbie was on the team and his senior class had a 40-8 record with four straight 10-2 seasons … also has a sister, Blair, at Clemson … also ran track at Calhoun, competing in the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump … Clemson recruiters were Brandon Streeter and Jeff Scott … committed to Clemson on October 28, 2017 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Aidan Swanson, Punter, Tampa, Florida

In High School: Left-footed punter who ranked as the third-best punter in the nation by Prep Stars and Rivals.com … ranked as the fourth-best punter by 247Sports and 16th-best punter by ESPN.com … handled kickoffs for IMG Academy in 2018 and had 29 touchbacks on 46 kickoffs (63 percent) … opponents averaged just 19.6 yards per kickoff return … averaged 42.3 yards per punt in 2018 and 46.0 in 2017 … had a 49-yard touchdown pass out of punt formation for IMG in 2017 … opponents averaged just 2.5 yards per punt return in 2018 … played two years at IMG Academy and two years at Jesuit High School in Tampa … punted for a 13-1 team that reached the state semifinals at Jesuit in 2015 … Jesuit was 12-1 in 2016 … was 54-80 on touchbacks at Jesuit in 2016 … had eight touchbacks in a game twice … As a sophomore, was a first-team All-Tampa Bay and All-Hillsborough County selection and a second-team 5A all-state honoree by the Associated Press … was also competed in track and field … was the Hillsborough County district champion for high jump and a State Championship finalist … Head Coach at Jesuit Tampa was Matt Thompson and Special Teams Coach was Tom Feely … played at IMG Academy for Kevin Wright … primary Clemson recruiters were Tony Elliott and Danny Pearman … his mother is a Clemson graduate … committed to Clemson on March 5, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Ray Thornton, Safety, Columbus, Georgia

In High School: Georgia native who played his high school football in Alabama … athletic safety who joins 2017 high school teammate Justyn Ross at Clemson … Ross and Thornton were first scholarship athletes to come to Clemson from Phenix City since Marvin Sims (1976-79) … ranked as the 18th-best player in state of Alabama by ESPN.com and Rivals.com … ranked as No. 13 prospect in Alabama by the Birmingham News … integral reason why Central High won the state championship in 2018 with a 14-0 record … bright spot in the secondary that helped Central to 52-7 win in 7A state championship game against team led by Alabama signee Taulia Tagovailoa, the brother of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa … Had an interception and 68-yard return to set up a field goal in the third quarter of that game … Helped lead Central to its first undefeated season since 1944 and first state championship since 1993 … had 57 tackles and two interceptions in 2017, helping Central to the semifinals of the state championship tournament … wore No. 5 in high school … played his high school football at Central High School for Jamey Dubose … Clemson recruiter was Todd Bates … committed to Clemson on June 22, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.

Greg Williams, Linebacker, Swansea, South Carolina

In High School: One of the top linebackers in South Carolina who played in the Shrine Bowl for South Carolina in 2018 … four-year starter at Swansea … played inside linebacker in 2017 and outside linebacker in 2018 … ranked as the eighth-best overall player in state of South Carolina by ESPN.com … listed 12th in the state by Rivals.com and 16th by 247Sports … had 78 tackles with a sack, two forced fumbles and three interceptions as a senior in 2018 … named the Region 5 Defensive Player of the Year … All-Region 5 AAA All-Region in football and basketball in 2017-18 academic year … the basketball team won the Region 5 AAA Championship in 2017-18 … had outstanding junior year in 2017 when he had 103 tackles … comes to Clemson from Swansea, S.C., the same hometown that sent Bryant McNeal to the Tigers between 1999-2002 … wore No. 4 for Swansea … played at Swansea High School for first-year coach Eric Pack … primary Clemson recruiters were Brandon Streeter and Brent Venables … committed to Clemson on June 21, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in summer of 2019.

Lannden Zanders, Safety, Shelby, North Carolina

In High School: Ranked as 24th-best player in North Carolina by ESPN.com … had 51 tackles and five interceptions as a starting safety in 2018 … returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns … had a fumble return and 175 yards rushing and a touchdown … as a receiver, had 545 receiving yards and eight touchdowns … first-team all-conference … team finished 9-4 in 2018 … in 2017, had 54 tackles and six interceptions to go with seven tackles for loss … had five receiving touchdowns on 24 catches for 363 yards … averaged 15 yards per catch … played his high school football at Crest High School for Nicholas Eddins … Clemson recruiter was Mickey Conn … comes to Clemson from same school that produced Clemson linebacker Justin Foster, as well as former ACC basketball great David Thompson and former NFL linebacker Brandon Spikes … committed to Clemson on April 4, 2018 … plans to enroll at Clemson in January 2019.