Category: Clemson Tigers

Rashan Gary
Rivals.com

Michigan reels in nation’s No. 1 recruit in Rashan Gary

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Jim Harbaugh has landed the biggest recruiting fish by far during his two recruiting cycles in Michigan — and he didn’t even need a sleepover to do it.

Down to a final two of UM and Clemson, and with a decided lean toward the Wolverines, Rashan Gary, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, announced during a live segment on ESPN2 that he is indeed headed to Ann Arbor to play for Harbaugh.  While there was a lean toward Michigan, the fact that Gary’s last official visit came this past weekend to Clemson led some to shift their thinking and see the Tigers as a real threat to UM.

In the end, however, the leader entering the 18th hole claimed the prized trophy in the clubhouse.

“That’s the place where I felt comfortable, that’s the place I feel my family will feel comfortable, that’s the place I feel the academic support is great,” Gary said in a post-announcement interview.  Interestingly, Gary said “when I was coming to the stage” when he was asked about when he decided on Michigan.

From Rivals.com to Scout to 247Sports to ESPN, every major recruiting service had the New Jersey product ranked as the No. 1 player in the country.  In most cases, it was the first time those recruiting services had ranked a defensive tackle as the top-rated overall prospect in a class.

This also marks the first time that the Michigan program has signed the highest-rated recruit in a class.  Jabril Peppers was the No. 2 recruit in 2014 as the previous program high-water recruiting mark, which surpassed the No. 4 ranking of quarterback Ryan Mallett in 2007.

One final note: Gary is the first No. 1 prospect to sign with a non-SEC school since Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor in 2008.

CFT Previews: National Signing Day

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Many in college football refer to National Signing Day simply as Christmas, as there’s some truth to that. There’s zero doubt the biggest day on the sport’s calendar between the closing of one season and the beginning of another is the first Wednesday in February. That day happens to be tomorrow.

With Signing Day upon us, here’s a quick rundown of the biggest storyline heading into tomorrow’s festivities:

– Where does Rashan Gary land? Gary is the Class of 2016’s answer to Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive tackle standing 6-foot-5, weighing in at 290 pounds and running like a gazelle with his hooves on fire. The Paramus, N.J., holds offers from just about everybody, but has whittled his list down to just Michigan and Clemson. Rivals’ No. 1 overall player will make his announcement from the SportsCenter studio during the 1 p.m. ET hour on ESPN2.

– How do the Tide and Trojans close? Since 2008, the only programs to claim Rivals’ No. 1 classes are USC (2010 and 2015) and Alabama (every other year). As of this writing, Alabama ranks ninth, while USC is 33rd. However, the Tide claims only 17 commitments at this time, while USC sits with just 13 in Clay Helton‘s first class as head coach. It’s safe to say Alabama will make its name known among the top five by the time the final fax rolls in Wednesday evening. USC is much more of a wild card.

– And what about Texas? Since Rivals started ranking recruiting classes in 2002, Texas has finished in the top 25 14 times in 14 chances. What’s more, the ‘Horns have ranked among the top 20 13 times and in the top 5 seven times. Which is why, to the uninformed, Charlie Strong could already be on his way out of town with a class ranked 39th, one spot above noted football power Oregon State. But Texas is set to close on a number of prospects — even landing an unexpected commitment in four-star running back Kyle Porter — earlier today and could rocket up the rankings throughout the day on Wednesday.

– Who signs the No. 1 class? As we established earlier, no team has claimed Rivals’ recruiting national championship since Nick Saban‘s first class way back in 2007, when Urban Meyer and Florida, fresh off their first national championship together, edged out USC. Fast forward nearly a decade… and Meyer again has a chance to win another recruiting title, this time for Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the pack heading into Signing Day, but LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson and, yes, Alabama are hot on their scarlet-and-gray heels.

Nation’s No. 1 recruit whittles list to Clemson, Michigan

Rashan Gary
Rivals.com
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We don’t know yet where Rashan Gary will attend college and play his football.  We do, though, (likely) know where he won’t be headed.

Heading into the stretch run before National Signing Day Wednesday, Gary, the No. 1-rated 2016 recruit according to both Rivals.com and Scout.com, was believed to have a final five that included Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Ole Miss and USC.  Alabama had also been in the running, but seemed to fall by the wayside after Gary opted to take his final official visit to Clemson this past weekend.

Roughly 36 or so hours before he reveals his decision, the defensive tackle has whittled his collegiate to-do list down even further, with his family confirming to Scout that Gary’s two finalists are Clemson and Michigan.  Gary is expected to make his announcement official shortly after 1 p.m. ET Wednesday at his high school in Paramus, NJ.

“As it stands right now, if signing day was (Tuesday), Rashan would go on and say he hasn’t decided yet,” said Gary’s mom, Jennifer Coney, told the recruiting website.

Because of a very close and personal connection, the Wolverines are considered by some to be the favorites for the 6-5, 290-pound Gary’s services.  Chris Partridge joined UM’s football staff last year before being named linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in the middle of last month.  He also just happens to be Gary’s former coach at Paramus Catholic High School.

Along with Gary, three other Rivals Top 10 2016 recruits remain uncommitted: No. 5 Ben Davis (linebacker from Alabama), No. 8 Demetris Robinson (athlete from Georgia) and No. 9 Mique Juarez (linebacker from California).  Davis is expected to announce his decision Wednesday morning, with Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame chasing presumptive frontrunner Alabama.

Announcements for Robinson (Notre Dame is considered the favorite) and Juarez (ticketed for UCLA?) have yet to be scheduled.

Clemson’s Charone Peake: I felt like we dominated Alabama

Clemson wide receiver Charone Peake runs through drills during NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, at Ladd–Peebles Stadium, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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The Clemson Tigers fell five points shy against Alabama in the national championship game earlier this month. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson put on a performance reminiscent of Vince Young in the Rose Bowl, although Watson and the Tigers let a fourth quarter lead slip away as Alabama took the upper hand and brought home another national championship under Nick Saban. Though Clemson lost the game, there was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in the performance. Wide receiver Charone Peake certainly didn’t feel any shame in his team’s performance.

We felt like we dominated the game,” Peake said following a Senior Bowl practice on Thursday, per Al.com. “Those couple two or three plays took over and kinda overshadowed our play. The scoreboard didn’t show it but I felt like we dominated the game.”

The plays Peake was likely referring to were an onside kick called by Alabama following a touchdown, a 95-yard kickoff return by Kenyan Drake and a long touchdown run by Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning running back, Derrick Henry, and a long touchdown pass to seldom-used O.J. Howard. To support Peake’s case, Clemson’s offense did a fantastic job against a defense that was heralded as one of the best in the nation, anchored by the top defensive line and defensive front in the game. Clemson rolled up 550 yards of offense and scored 40 points on Alabama, so in a sense, yes, Clemson’s offense was dominant. Peake was responsible for 99 receiving yards on six receptions as well. Clemson defensive tackle D.J. Reader agreed.

“They capitalize. If you’re going to beat them, you really have to beat them,” Reader said. “You can’t go out there and have a fluke game and just win against them. You have to beat them straight up. That’s what I respect about them as a team. They’re going to do the things that matter. They’re going the little tackles, even if it doesn’t count, they’re going to make them. They just do things the right way.”

It must be open season on the newly crowned national champions down at the Senior Bowl. This week also saw Ohio State players suggest they would have given Alabama a better fight than their Big Ten division foes from Michigan State. Who will be next to suggest they could take Alabama?

Checking in on recruiting rankings with one week until Signing Day

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers (C) sings with his team after they defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 56-27 during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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National Signing Day is one week from today. If you haven’t already taken off work, purchased your food items, laundered your lucky shirt, socks and underwear and hung your decorations, consider this your fair warning.

(Wait, everyone hangs decorations for National Signing Day, right?)

With but seven days between now and the biggest day on the college football calendar until Opening Day, here’s how the top 25 classes stack up according to Rivals.

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Michigan
5. Notre Dame
6. Florida State
7. Florida
8. Clemson
9. Michigan State
10. Baylor
11. UCLA
12. Alabama
13. Texas A&M
14. Auburn
15. TCU
16. North Carolina
17. Georgia
18. Tennessee
19. Kentucky
20. Stanford
21. Oregon
22. California
23. Duke
24. Penn State
25. Houston

A couple teams to watch over the next week are teams that were top-5 mainstays a decade ago — No. 28 USC, No. 30 Oklahoma, No. 31 Miami and No. 50 Texas.

Before any Trojans, Sooners, ‘Canes or ‘Horns fans hit the panic button, consider that each team is still carrying a light number of commitments — USC and Texas with 13, Miami with 14 and Oklahoma with 16. Ten of the top 11 teams claim at least 20, and only Georgia has fewer than 16 among ranked teams.