On Sunday Jake Venables (6-feet-2-inches, 222 pounds), a 2018 linebacker out of Daniel, announced a commitment to Clemson, where his father Brent is the defensive coordinator.
And the announcement came on his father’s birthday.
“I just knew. I was ready. I thought it was time,” the younger Venables said. “I also know this class is not going to be very big, about 12 people, and I wanted to make sure I had a spot. I am looking forward to getting all the guys we need. It’s fun, because I know the next nine we get are going to get be unreal, and the 2017 class is already off the charts. This is going to be fun.”
And the chance to stay home and play his college football also was big in Venables’ thinking.
“Yeah, it’s always a big plus when your family lives in the same town,” he said. “I am super blessed to be in the position I’m in and I am really looking forward to getting the rest of my class and future teammates in and get this thing rolling.”
Venables is Clemson’s third commitment for the 2018 class joining quarterback Trevor Lawrence and LB Mike Jones Jr. He also has offers from Texas Tech, SMU and Northwestern. This season Venables had 100 tackles with 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
Lawrence, of Cartersville, Ga., is regarded as the top quarterback in the country in his class. He announced Thursday night a commitment to Clemson. He had also strongly considered Georgia. He also looked at Alabama and LSU during the season.
“After a long and thoughtful process, I am blessed to announce that I am committed to Clemson University,” Lawrence wrote on his Twitter page while requesting that he not be contacted for interviews. The 6-5 Lawrence is a prolific passer. He passed for 3,655 yards and 43 touchdowns as a freshman, 3,042 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore and this season he passed for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns in leading his team to a state championship.
“Effortless,” is how Cartersville assistant coach Antwan Toomer described Lawrence as a passer earlier this year. “What impresses me the most is his throwing power. To still be so young but yet possess that power is amazing. He’s a pro style in my opinion but he’s mobile enough to pull it on a zone option play and get a first down.”
Lawrence becomes Clemson’s second commitment for the 2018 class joining DB Mike Jones of IMG Academy in Florida.
At this point in piecing together the 2017 class, Clemson has 14 solid commitments and not much room left. The two prospects the Tigers still are pursuing are LB Drew Singleton of Paramus, N.J., and DB Xavier McKinney of Roswell, Ga. Singleton took official visits to Michigan and Michigan State this month. Clemson is hoping to get him in for an official visit in January before he makes his decision. Singleton did visit Clemson in the summer.
McKinney has taken official visits to Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. He is down to the Tigers, Crimson Tide (to which he once was committed) and the Buckeyes. McKinney will be a mid-year enrollee. Asked about reported information that Ohio State doesn’t have room for any more mid-year guys, McKinney responded, “They didn’t tell me that.” McKinney also has been considering Florida. He plans to announce at the Under Armour All American Game January 1st in Orlando.
According to Clemson247.com, RB D’Andre Swift of Philadelphia, who is a Georgia commitment, is considering an official visit with the Tigers in January. He will visit Georgia on Jan. 13.
Clemson offered 2018 DB Tre’ Douglas of McDonough, Ga. Douglas has 17 offers. He went to games this season at Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Ohio State. He does not have favorites.
USC AND CLEMSON
In the aftermath of the Lawrence commitment, 2018 QB Dakereon Joyner of Fort Dorchester, the state’s No. 1 quarterback prospect in the class, said Saturday he will move forward with his recruiting without Clemson as an option. Joyner told TheClemsonInsider.com he won’t be attending Clemson and the Tigers are out of his top five.
He stated his top three as South Carolina, Louisville and N.C. State. He is slated to visit Virginia Tech on Jan. 15. Clemson never recruited Joyner strictly as a quarterback, something he has insisted of the schools he’s considering. Clemson viewed Joyner as an athlete, promising him a chance at quarterback but reserving the right to move him if he didn’t prove better than their other quarterbacks. Joyner maintains he is strictly a quarterback for college.
Joyner was just named the Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina. This season he passed for 3,642 yards and 44 touchdowns and rushed for 1,089 yards and 12 scores.
2018 DE Xavier Thomas of Florence announced Tuesday night he will sign next year with either USC or Clemson. Thomas, who is transferring from Wilson to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., in January, eliminated five others from his list in deciding to go with one of the in-state programs. He made multiple unofficial visits to both schools during the season.
“After much talk with my parents, I am committing to returning to my home state of South Carolina to play for either USC or Clemson,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “I do not know which school I will be attending yet. That is a decision I will make next year after following both schools athletic programs’ progress, accessing each school’s educational opportunities, and more importantly, after careful consideration of my family’s feedback.”
Thomas also had Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama and Florida on his short list before deciding to go with one of the in-state programs.
2018 DB Kyler McMichael of Duluth, Ga., picked up an offer from Clemson Friday. The Tigers join USC and several other major programs with an offer to McMichael. McMichael said he will visit Duke in January and possible Clemson as well.
2018 OL Noah Sherburn of Canton, Ga., has not been offered by Clemson but is getting a lot of interest in the Tigers and he has strong interest in them. Sherburn has also had interest in USC but has not been in for a visit. He’s also drawing interest from Louisville, Appalachian State, Toledo, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Florida State.
2018 RB Zamir White of Laurinburg, N.C. plans to announce his commitment June 27. Clemson and USC are on his list.
USC landed two of the nation’s top junior college cornerbacks Wednesday by signing Kaleb Chalmers of Northwestern Mississippi Community College and Keisean Nixon of Arizona Western JC. Those additions give the Gamecocks seven defensive backs in their 2017 class and 22 newcomers all together. Both will enroll in January and will have three years to play three.
Chalmers is a Greenwood native who began his college career at Clemson in 2015 but was dismissed from the program following his arrest on drug possession charges in Clinton last March without ever having played a down for the Tigers. Chalmers said last month those charges against him were dismissed. He enrolled at NWCC where he was a model student and player according to his coach.
“He has been a great teammate and has led our team the right way,” said Northwest Mississippi coach Benji Parker. “He goes to class. He goes to weights. Everybody on campus loves him.”
Parker said the USC coaches liked Chalmers because he’s a bigger corner. Last season he had 26 tackles with 12 passes broken up and one interception.
Speaking for his son Wednesday, Anthony Chalmers said he is excited about getting a second chance to play major college football.
“A lot of these young guys get this opportunity to go to a major Division I school such as Clemson or Carolina and play on this big stage. You think as parents you prepare them for it, but once they get there it’s a learning experience,” Anthony said. “Having the opportunity to get back to this level to be able to play again for a major Division I school, he’s learned a lot from it. He’s learned a lot from the experience and we just pray and hope that what he’s learned he’ll be able to share with the next young fella who might be going through something like that.”
Nixon talked with USC head coach Will Muschamp early Wednesday morning and made his pledge then and later signed his papers.
“I chose the Gamecocks cause I feel that coaching staff gives me the best situation to get to the NFL,” Nixon said. “They are making a real impact this season. And my boy is (Gamecock cornerback) Jamarcus King and we’re going to take over the SEC with our secondary. They say I can have an immediate impact at corner.”
This season Nixon had 27 tackles with six interceptions, two sacks and he scored twice. Nixon took an official visit to USC for the Western Carolina game and he was at Tennessee last weekend. He also took official visits to Colorado State, Iowa State and Oregon State.
USC commitment LB Eldridge Thompson of Coffeyville JC, Kan., had planned to graduate from the junior college this month and enroll at USC in January.
“Not any more, I had some stuff on my math class and I won’t get that until May,” Thompson said. “But there’s no more recruiting period for me. I’m all South Carolina.”
Thompson said he will take the math class he needs online. Thompson said he will finish up the math class on May 5 and he expects no problems in successfully completing the work to be able to enroll at USC in May.
OL Jordan Tucker of Roswell, Ga., a former Tennessee commitment, is now looking at a possible visit to USC in January.
“I’ve just heard from South Carolina this week and they want to get me up there. Coach B-Mac (Bryan McClendon) said that they’re happy I reopened so they can recruit me again.”
USC offered Tucker earlier in the year. He has set an official visit to Louisville for Jan. 14.
OL Jordon Carty of Hollywood, Fla., camped at USC last summer and the Gamecocks have kept him on their board. Muschamp and area recruiter Travaris Robinson visited Carty earlier this month and he is scheduled for an official visit Jan. 28. He also plans to visit Ole Miss in January. Those are the two schools he’s considering.
“I like South Carolina,” Carty said. “That’s where I want to be. I have not committed yet but I’m looking forward to it.”
Carty (6-7, 288) said he’s being recruited as a left tackle.
USC has seven defensive backs on its commitment board at this point after signing two junior college prospects last week. DB Naytron Culpepper of Miami, who took an official visit in October, still considers the Gamecocks as one of his options. Culpepper also has taken an official visit to Maryland and is scheduled to visit Michigan State on Jan. 14.
Shrine Bowl DE Matthew Butler of Garner, N.C., said at least privately and in his own mind, he’s focused on only three or four of the six schools still on his list as he prepares to announce at his school Wednesday. Butler said he’s been hearing from Muschamp and Robinson via text or phone on daily basis. He said their message is coming across consistent with what they’ve been selling him throughout the recruiting campaign.
“They have defensive minded coaching and developing, and a young team that has potential to be a good team in the SEC,” Butler said. “I’ve met their academic support staff and they know what they are doing.”
Butler said he’s heard from all six schools on his list as well as some new schools that haven’t been recruiting him but have new staffs. Butler has taken official visits to Duke, Penn State, N.C. State and Texas A&M and if he chooses one of them he won’t take his fifth visit in January. But if he chooses USC or Tennessee, he will take that final visit to that school. This season Butler recorded 90 tackles with 26 sacks, 25 tackles for loss and 32 quarterback hurries.
USC has been in touch with RB CJ Leggett (5-10, 209) of Mesa JC, Ariz., and has talked with him about walking on the team this spring and possibly earning a scholarship for the fall.
“They offered me as preferred walk-on till the fall season because of scholarships,” Leggett said. “I am extremely excited about the opportunity. I have always wanted to play for a school like this. There’s a great tradition. I graduate in December and if I decide to go to South Carolina I would be there in the spring.”
Leggett said he’s also looking at Mercer and The Citadel. Leggett already has major college experience. He begin his career at Georgia Tech in 2014 as a redshirt then tore his ACL in a 2015 spring practice, thus he never got on the field for the Yellow Jackets. He was in competition for a starting job last spring until he was dismissed from the team in July for a violation of team rules. Leggett played this season at Mesa rushing for 323 yards and two touchdowns.
DE Javon Kinlaw of Goose Creek and Jones JC, Miss., named his top three schools as USC, Southern Cal and Alabama. He has set official visits to Southern Cal for Jan. 14, Alabama for Jan. 21 and USC for Jan. 28.
“I have no specific order, but South Carolina because it’s my home school state and I love everything about the place,” Kinlaw said in explaining why these three made his short list. “Alabama because It’s one of the best schools in the country football and academic wise. And Southern Cal because I have a great relationship with the D-line coach. Me and him have a relationship that I don’t have with any other coach I’ve ever spoken to. Relationships will play a big role in my college decision.”
The official visits will be the first to schools this season for Kinlaw since he couldn’t make any during the season.
OL Tony Gray of Loganville, Ga., announced his list for official visits as USC, California, Oklahoma, Florida and Missouri. He did not have dates for his visits in January. He has not yet taken any official visits. Gray had an in-home visit from USC in late November.
USC OL target Jerry Drake Jr. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., committed to Pitt.
USC offered 2018 WR Jatavious Harris of Milledgeville, Ga. Harris also has offers from Miami, Tennessee and Marshall.
2018 ATH Marquez Ezzard of Stockbridge, Ga., was offered by USC. The Gamecocks like him as a receiver. Ezzard also has offers from Tennessee, Rutgers and Louisville.
North-South DE Tre Lawson of North Augusta was offered Friday by Oregon. He’s a recent decommit from Tennessee.
DB Najee Whosendove of Allendale-Fairfax was offered by Georgia State.
North-South DB Cory Riley of AC Flora committed to S.C. State.
LB EJ Henry of Palmetto Prep committed to Webber University.
Northwestern QB Gage Moloney has switched his commitment from Ohio to James Madison
Other commitments around the state: OL Antwine Loper, Carolina Forest, Coastal Carolina; TE Elliott Campbell, Lugoff-Elgin, Furman; WR Julius Pearson, Crestwood, Georgia State; TE Roger Carter, Blythewood, Florida Atlantic; QB Peyton Derrick, Conway, Appalachian State; LB Desmond Ricks, Lancaster, S.C. State; DB Akaya Miranda, Belton-Honea Path, Army.
RHP Parker Coyne of Suwanee, Ga., committed to USC for 2017.
2018 SS Bryar Hawkins of Cumming, Ga., committed to Clemson.