RECRUITING CORNER

Clemson gets commit from Florida RB Mellusi

BY PHIL KORNBLUT
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 4/18/18

Clemson stayed hot on the recruiting trail with a commitment from RB Chez Mellusi (6-0 175) of Naples, Florida, commitment since Friday and the ninth for the 2019 class.

Mellusi visited Clemson for the first time last week and was offered and …

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RECRUITING CORNER

Clemson gets commit from Florida RB Mellusi

Posted

Clemson stayed hot on the recruiting trail with a commitment from RB Chez Mellusi (6-0 175) of Naples, Florida, commitment since Friday and the ninth for the 2019 class.

Mellusi visited Clemson for the first time last week and was offered and that moved the Tigers into his lead group with Miami and Notre Dame. After a week to think about it, he decided to go with Clemson.

"I knew as soon as I got on campus, so it was just a matter of me talking to my family and getting them on board as well," Mellusi said. "I've been in good contact with Coach (Tony) Elliott and Coach (Brandon) Streeter for months now, and it was just me visiting and getting a feel for the campus and the facilities. It was amazing. And the coaches are always fired up, always really happy around the players and I really liked it. I'm just glad I can contribute and keep (the success) going."

Mellusi could have stayed close to home and play at Miami, and he gave that strong consideration, too. But he also saw a chance to get away from home and grow by deciding to head to Clemson.

"Miami was probably the runner-up. That was probably one of my favorite schools going into the Clemson visit," he said. "I want to be my own person and I felt like Clemson was my opportunity to have a family away from home and would open me up to new things and allow me to be my own person. Miami was just not going to give me that because home is 20 minutes away."

Mellusi plays out of the veer offense in high school and rushed for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, averaging 9 yards per carry. That's a much different offense compared to Clemson's spread attack but Mellusi said when it comes to handling the running back's job, he should be just fine.

"I'm a do it all kind of running back. I catch the ball out of the back field and the slot. I'm an all-three down back. And I block in every way in my offense."

Mellusi said he will sign in December, but he's not yet sure if he will graduate early. He will set his official visit with Clemson around one of the home games.

Clemson punctuated its spring game weekend with four commitments for the 2019 class highlighted by highly touted QB Taisun Phommachanh (6-4 205) of Avon, Connecticut. Clemson and Florida State were his top two at the end with offers also from USC, Purdue, Illinois, Penn State, LSU, Ole Miss, Iowa, Florida and others. "What sold me was how the environment was, it just feels right," Phommachanh said. Their family oriented culture got me because I'm close to my family. It just feels like home. Coach told me come and compete to be the starting quarterback for Clemson and I plan to do that, go and compete to be the starter." Phommachanh passed for 2,235 yards and 25 touchdowns with just 1 interception last season, and he rushed for 663 yards and 17 touchdowns.

One of his future receivers will be Frank Ladson (6-4 170) of Miami. He committed to Clemson over Miami, Florida State, Alabama and Georgia. He originally was committed to Florida. He visited Clemson earlier this year and that got the ball rolling in Clemson's favor. "The consistency and sincerity displayed to us had made my decision easy, and I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime," Ladson said. He's coming off a junior season of 29 catches for 675 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The Tigers also addressed the defensive side of the ball with commitments from LB Bryton Constantin (6-2 220) of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and DB Lannden Zanders (6-1 180) of Shelby, North Carolina, who was recruited as a safety.

Constantin also had on his short list Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, TCU and Houston. "I feel like I'm really accepted up there," Constantin said. "They show me a lot of love. Even all the coaches. I talked to Coach Venables and he said how much they love me, how I acted and how I held myself. That means a lot. That shows me they are not just focused how good I am at football but how I am as a young man." Last season Constantin totaled 104 tackles with 23 tackles for loss and 6 sacks.

Zanders made a couple of earlier visits to Clemson, including one for a spring practice late last month, he picked the Tigers over offers from Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland and others. "I felt very comfortable at Clemson," Zanders said. "They have a great coaching staff. They need safeties really bad and they showed that they wanted me to be one of them." Last season he had 54 tackles and 6 interceptions.

Clemson offered RB Jerrion Ealy of Jackson, Mississippi, Saturday while he was in on a visit. He's committed to Ole Miss for football and baseball.

DB Tyler Rudolph of Waterbury, Connecticut, announced a top five of Clemson, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Florida. He was at Clemson over the weekend.

Clemson made the top 12 with DE Lloyd Summerall of Auburndale, Florida. The others on his list are Georgia, Florida State, Alabama, Miami, Florida, TCU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Nebraska, Auburn and Penn State.

Clemson is one of the top six with OL Zeke Correll of Cincinnati and he was in for the spring game. His other favorites are Alabama, Ohio State, Stanford, Notre Dame and Penn State.

DB Andrew Booth of Lawrenceville, Georgia, DE Curtis Fann of Twin City, Georgia, and DB Sheridan Jones of Virginia Beach, Virginia, visited Clemson Saturday.

LB Keith Maguire of Malvern, Pennsylvania, also was back at Clemson for the spring game. "It was great. I really enjoyed it. They are definitely high up in my top five." The others are Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and North Carolina.

OL Luke Griffin (6-5 295) of Chatsworth, Georgia, also was in to see Clemson Saturday for the spring game. He had been committed to Georgia but coming off major surgeries to both knees, the Bulldogs wanted to wait until after this season before making a final decision on Griffin. So, he decommitted and is now looking hard at Clemson, Florida and Alabama. The Tigers haven't offered but that hasn't lessened his interest. "They have a good atmosphere down there. Their coaches are real down to earth. Coach Caldwell is a really cool guy. We'll just have to see where things go," Griffin said.

Clemson LB target Spencer Lytle has set an official visit to Wisconsin for June 15.

QB John Rhys Plumlee of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said he's in touch with Clemson via text and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter plans to come watch him throw this spring. Plumlee said he might revisit Clemson after his baseball season. He first visited in March. Plumlee also has visited Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tulane, South Alabama, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and UAB.

DE Mataio Soli of Douglasville, Georgia, visited Clemson last week with some of his teammates. He also has visited Georgia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Vanderbilt.

Another top receiver Clemson is pursuing is Lance Wilhoite (6-3 170) of Nashville. He had planned to visit for the spring game but went to Tennessee instead. "I love Clemson," Wilhoite said. "They are showing major love. They are talking about how I'm a elite receiver and how I'm a priority." Last season Wilhoite had 1,087 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 67 tackles on defense. He said other schools strong with him at this point are Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Louisville, Arkansas and Tennessee.

OL Andrew Kristofic (6-5 255) of Gibsonia, Pennysylvania, is a heavily recruited prospect with offers from Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Mississippi State, Boston College, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Virginia and others. He recently visited Clemson. "The biggest thing I can say about the visit is that I had very high expectations going into it and the visit exceeded those expectations in every way," Kristofic said. Kristofic is getting down to the task of making his decision from his top four. "Clemson. Notre Dame. Ohio State. Wisconsin, in no real order right now," he said. He was back for a visit to Ohio State last week.

LB Spencer Lytle of Bellflower, California, recently visited several of his top targets that included a stop at Clemson to wrap up the journey. He also saw Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Illinois. Clemson moved onto Lytle's favored list after offering in March and his first visit there firmed up his initial feelings. "The visit went great," Lytle said. "We all loved the visit. The campus and facilities are incredible. I attended a few player meetings and practice. I can definitely see myself at Clemson." Lytle said the other schools standing out the most to him at this point are Notre Dame, Texas, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Cal and TCU. There is no order to the schools. He said his decision timeline stretches from the end of his spring practice May 16 to September.

2020 TE Caden Clark of Akron, Ohio, visited Clemson last week. His offers include Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia and Kentucky.

USC

USC picked up its 10th public commitment on Friday from LB Tra Wilkins (6-2 190) of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Wilkins said he made his commitment Thursday night in a phone conversation with recruiter Bryan McClendon and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson. "There's a lot of reasons. The best reasons are it's close to home and I feel like I'll be a great fit for them," Wilkins said. "They want me at that middle linebacker spot." Wilkins also has offers from Georgia, Ohio State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and others. Last season Wilkins was in on 80 tackles with 11 sacks. As of Sunday USC coach Will Muschamp had not put out his trademark "SpursUp" signifying an accepted commitment. Stephenson High assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Corey Johnson explained that by saying it's just a matter of timing and he considers Wilkins committed.

USC is in the top five with DL CJ Clark of New London, North Carolina. The others are North Carolina, NC State, Tennessee and Georgia.

USC target DB Chris Steele took an official visit to Oklahoma over the weekend. He will go to LSU this weekend. He told 247Sports he also will visit Florida June 8th and will set a visit with Southern Cal. He's undecided on a fifth official but plans a return unofficial to USC. He has set his announcement date for July 7.

Texas A&M grad transfer DB Nick Harvey visited Arizona over the weekend. He's also been to USC and Auburn.

USC recently offered a hotly recruited DE Adisa Isaac (6-5 215) of Brooklyn. "They've been following me and talked to me about how they like my play style and it fits their school," Isaac said. Isaac is an excellent pass rusher. He totaled 12 sacks as a junior. Isaac also has offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Boston College, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, Pitt, Central Florida and Virginia Tech. He has taken unofficial visits to Syracuse, Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers and Boston College. He took an official visit to Texas A&M over the weekend. He said he's pretty sure he will visit USC at some point.

DL Calijah Kancey of Miami made his second visit to USC the end of last month for the spring game. The first visit in February impressed Kancey so much he made the Gamecocks his big favorite. The second visit further enhanced those feelings. "Everything was just good, I liked it. I was looking at where I would be at, what grade are the defensive tackles that play my position, so I was just really focused on that information. I said to myself that I could get out there and go play right away. I talked to Coach TRob and Coach Muschamp after the game and I told Coach Muschamp I loved the experience." He was scheduled to visit Louisville this past Saturday for its spring game.

2020 RB Deondre Jackson of Stone Mountain, Georgia, said Friday he's thinking hard about an early commitment to USC. "Right now I'm in the stage of trying to be another commit," Jackson has offers from USC, Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, Nebraska, Maryland, Florida, Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee and others. Former USC running back Mike Davis is his mentor.

2020 OL Issiah Walker of Miami plans to announce his college commitment at his spring game in mid May. USC has been strong with him since offering and appears to be in good shape with him at this point. He also has offers from Florida, South Florida and Kentucky.

CLEMSON AND USC

USC and Clemson target RB/LB Quavaris Crouch of Charlotte visited Florida State Saturday.

USC and Clemson are in the top nine with LB Kalen DeLoach of Savannah, Georgia. The others are on his short list are Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida State and LSU. He was at Clemson Saturday and also was at USC for its spring game.

LB Derek Boykins of Concord, North Carolina, acknowledged last week he knows where he would commit if he were to do so right now. USC and Clemson are two he has been considering and he's visited both. "Me and South Carolina are on pretty good terms," said Boykins who lived in Beaufort until he was six and has been a Gamecock fan. "I mainly talk to Coach Muschamp. He's saying, 'You know, we need you here." He visited Clemson recently for a spring practice.

"Coach Swinney was talking about, 'Make sure you go see what you need to see before you actually make your decision. Hopefully you'll be here." As for making his decision final, Boykins is getting there but his mom doesn't want him to rush. Boykins said he plans to return to USC "pretty soon" for another unofficial visit. He's also visited North Carolina, Tennessee, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke and East Carolina.

USC and Clemson are in the top 10 with 2020 WR Dazalin Worsham of Trussville, Alabama. The others on his list are Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Oregon and Tennessee. He plans to visit Clemson Saturday.

BASKETBALL

USC basketball coach Frank Martin landed his third commitment for the 2018 class Sunday when 6-4 PG TJ Moss of Memphis, Tennessee, committed at the end of his official visit. He also had offers from Alabama, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas A&M and Oregon State. "I picked South Carolina because it's a great program," Moss said. "Coach Martin is a great coach. The culture here is similar to home and I feel it's a great fit for me." This season Moss averaged over 7 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds per game.

Combo guard Devonte Bandoo of Hutchinson JC, Kansas, visited USC over the weekend. He also has offers from Oklahoma, Houston, New Mexico, West Virginia and others. He was named all region this season after averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He made 50% of his field goals including 44% from three point range, and he shot 81% from the free throw line. He's a native of Brampton, Ontario.

6-3 Jermaine Couisnard of Montverde Prep, Floria, and 6-9 forward Alanzo Frink of Roselle, New Jersey, signed their LOIs with USC last week.

USC's Frank Martin visited Friday with Hartsville 2019 guard Trae Hannibal. He has offers from USC, Oklahoma State, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston and others.

Clemson's Brad Brownell visited 2019 6-6 Christian Brown of Lower Richland, 2019 6-11 Malcolm Wilson of Ridge View and 6-6 Juwan Gary of Gray Collegiate on Friday.

Clemson target 6-3 Trey McGowens is on an official visit to Minnesota that started Sunday according to Corey Evans of Rivals.

Auburn transfer 6-3 Desean Murray said he would consider Clemson for a grad transfer season. He's also considering turning pro. Murray played his first two seasons at PC. He averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds per game last season.

The Citadel announced 6-3 guard Lee Stalworth has transferred as a grad student from Texas-Rio Grande Valley. He averaged 6 points and over 3 assists per game last season.

One of the top prospects available on the college basketball transfer market this spring is former North Carolina guard Jalek Felton. The Mullins native and graduate of Gray Collegiate Academy in Columbia is living in Charlotte, working out with his grandfather Raymond Felton Sr. and weighing his options with his family. Dion Bethea was Felton's coach at Gray last season and remains close to him and the family. He spoke with Felton's mother and was told USC coach Frank Martin remains a major player for Felton. "She just told me that Frank and them really want him at USC," Bethea said. "I'm guessing once everything gets worked out, whenever that may be, we don't know, hopefully we can get some movement or something going on, but right now it's been empty." Does that mean, in Bethea's opinion, USC is most likely Felton's destination at this point? "I wouldn't say that," he said. "They are in a pretty good situation. Jalek does have a relationship with Coach Martin, too. I haven't heard too much about Clemson but maybe Clemson is gaining a little ground, I'm not sure." Clemson assistant coach Steve Smith, according to Bethea, reached out to the Feltons not long after he departed North Carolina. Georgetown continues to be in touch and Bethea said St. John's coach Chris Mullen recently got in touch. There is no timetable for a decision though Felton hopes to enroll at his new school in the summer.

As for his 2019 standout Juwan Gary, Bethea said he's busy with his AAU schedule right now and hasn't decided on official visits. New Pitt coach Jeff Capel, who had interest in Gary while at Duke, recently got in touch. Bethea also said Villanova has expressed interest in his 2019 PG Tommy Bruner and he's also heard from new East Carolina coach Joe Dooley. USC and Clemson also remains strongly interested in him.

BASEBALL

2018 OF/RHP Will Bethea of AC Flora committed to Clemson. This season he is hitting .435 with 3 home runs, 13 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. On the mound he is 2-2 with a 2.49 ERA. He has struck out 29 in 19.2 innings.