A major re-stocking effort is underway at Clemson’s defensive end positions, with two highly-rated players already committed for 2012.
The Tiger coaching staff’s effort to add a third took a blow over the weekend when five-star prospect Jonathan Bullard of Crest High in Shelby, NC committed to Florida over Clemson.
The coaches would still like to add a third signee in February and is actively pursing two players – Kenderius Whitehead of Lithonia, GA and JaMichael Winston of Pritchard, AL. Both players plan to visit Clemson before signing day.
Four current players are set to work at the defensive end positions this spring, led by returning starter Malliciah Goodman and projected starter Corey Crawford. Also competing will be rising redshirt sophomore Vic Beasley and redshirt freshman Roderick Byers.
Byers was a signing-day addition to the Tigers’ 2011 recruiting class, after receiving an offer from Clemson and choosing the Tigers over Oregon, to whom he had previously committed.
Beasley moved from outside linebacker to defensive end during workouts prior to the 2011 season.
Clemson currently has two in-state defensive ends committed for its 2012 class – Martin Aiken of Bamberg and Shaq Lawson of Central.
Aiken is ranked as the nation’s No. 14 defensive end and as the No. 2 player in the state of South Carolina by Rivals. Scout ranks him 22nd at his position, and ESPN 41st. He’s ranked as the No. 12 player in SC by ESPN.
Lawson is ranked 17th among defensive ends by ESPN, which rates him as the No. 3 player in SC. He’s ranked 26th by Rivals.
Both Aiken and Lawson played in the post-season Offense-Defense All-America Bowl game, and Lawson was named defensive MVP for the East squad. Earlier he was named defensive MVP of the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game.
Returning Starter (1)
Rising senior Malliciah Goodman
Experienced Players Returning (2)
Rising sophomores Corey Crawford and Vic Beasley
Players Lost (2)
All-American starter and ACC sacks leader Andre Branch, and regular-rotation backup Kourtnei Brown
In The Pipeline
Redshirt freshman Roderick Byers, 6-4, 260, Northwestern HS, Rock Hill, SC
Committed For 2012
Martin Aiken, 6-3, 245, Bamberg-Ehrhardt HS, Bamberg, SC: He’s rated as the nation’s No. 14 strongside defensive end by Rivals.
Shaq Lawson, 6-3, 250, Daniel HS, Central, SC: He’s the Independent Mail’s area player of the year, and the defensive MVP of both the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game and the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl.
Remaining 2012 Targets
Kenderius Whitehead, 6-5, 215, Martin Luther King HS, Lithonia, GA: Clemson has jumped strongly into the mix with Georgia and NC State, and he’ll give the Tigers an official visit this weekend. He’s being recruited by position coach Marion Hobby.
JaMichael Winston, 6-5, 230, Vigor HS, Pritchard, AL: He verbally committed to Arkansas in the fall, where he’ll visit this weekend. He’s also scheduled official visits to Clemson and Michigan State, and is being recruited for the Tigers by Hobby.
2013 Early Offers
Peter Kalambayi, 6-3, 240, Butler HS, Matthews, NC: ESPN ranks him as the No. 3 player in NC overall as an outside linebacker, but he’s likely to grow into the defensive end position in college.
Demarcus Walker, 6-4, 250, Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville, FL: He has early offers from both Clemson and South Carolina.
Greg Gilmore, 6-5, 270, South View HS, Hope Mills, NC: He’s rated as the No. 4 prospect in NC by ESPN, and had 68 tackles and four forced fumbles last season.
Isaac Rochell, 6-5, 245, Eagles Landing HS, McDonough, GA: He has more than 20 early offers and is projected as one of the top players in the Southeast.
Some Others To Watch
Deshawn Evans, 6-4, 210, Goose Creek HS, Goose Creek, SC: A teammate of Clemson 2012 linebacker commitment T.J. Burrell for Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy, he's drawing early interest from numerous ACC and SEC schools.
Tyquan Lewis, 6-3, 230, Tarboro, HS, Tarboro, NC: He has early offers from Wake Forest, East Carolina and Duke.
Dane Rogers, 6-3, 240, Crest HS, Shelby, NC: Early interest from around the ACC-SEC area, but no early offers.
Davaris McGowens, 6-3, 240, Eastside HS, Greenville, SC: Up until this point, he’s been tracked primarily as a basketball prospect.
Tray Watkins, 6-3, 240, Chase HS, Forest City, NC: He’s the younger brother of 2012 Clemson commitment Carlos Watkins.