Clemson's 2014 recruiting class balances talent, need and numbers

Tigers looking for a pair of signing day additions; PK Alex Spence will walk on for fall semester

Clemson football receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott discusses the 2013 recruiting class that signed with the Tigers on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson football receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott discusses the 2013 recruiting class that signed with the Tigers on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

For the past 12 months, Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott has played a numbers game, balancing player interest with need, factoring in the decisions of players who committed elsewhere, and then adjusting and readjusting based on attrition.

When they check Clemson's bottom line on Wednesday, Scott and head coach Dabo Swinney are likely to be well-satisfied with their signing day haul.

Five members of what is evolving as a 20-man class are already enrolled, including top-rated quarterback Deshaun Watson of Gainesville, Ga., and the wide receiver trio of Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla.), Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga.) and Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga. by way of Fork Union Military).

Thirteen more committed prospects are expected to sign with the Tigers on Wednesday - a group that includes Upstate standouts Jae'lon Oglesby of Daniel High, a prolific running back who is a two-time Independent Mail area player of the year, Belton-Honea Path linebacker Kendall Joseph, and Easley running back C.J. Fuller.

One long-time committed player who will not sign a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday is placekicker Alex Spence (Florence, S.C.). Because of the anticipated tight numbers in the class, Spence plans to walk on and pay his own way beginning this summer, before going on scholarship as a 'grayshirt' next January. By doing so, he will be able to compete for the Tigers' placekicking job during preseason camp, and will open up a spot in the 2014 class for another signee.

Clemson's restocking effort at the offensive skill positions also includes running back Adam Choice (Thomasville, Ga.), wide receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C.), and tight ends Cannon Smith (Columbia, S.C.) and Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga.).

Linebacker was another priority area. In addition to January enrollee Chris Register (Greensboro, N.C.), the Tigers have commitments from Joseph, Korie Rogers (Buford, Ga.), Georgia's Class 3A defensive player of the year, and Jalen Williams (Blythewood, S.C.).

While Clemson's signing day promises to be a relatively low-drama affair - which Scott says is exactly the way he likes it - the Tigers are still in the hunt for three highly-ranked players who will reveal their choices on Wednesday.

Defensive end Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) could add to Clemson's class after recently de-committing from Notre Dame. Defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga.) is deciding among Clemson, Auburn and Georgia, while defensive tackle Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala.) is down to Clemson and Tennessee.

“We set kind of our target numbers at each position," Scott said last summer, after the bulk of the Tigers' class had committed. "That changes from year to year as your needs change. Our job is to try to sign the best player for that position for that year, filling needs.

“I think you’re seeing more and more guys make earlier decisions."

On the 2015 recruiting front, Clemson will be watching for a scheduled Wednesday evening announcement from Mitch Hyatt of North Gwinnett High in Suwanee, Ga., on his college choice. Hyatt is a consensus pick as the nation's top junior offensive tackle, and has Clemson connections through his uncle, former Tiger defensive lineman Dan Benish.

The Tigers' 2014 class is well-regarded nationally, currently ranked No. 15 on the 247Sports Composite list, No. 12 by Rivals, No. 13 by ESPN, and No. 31 by Scout.

Clemson's list includes nine members of ESPN's national top 300.

Check back with us on OrangeandWhite.com tomorrow all day with instant analysis over Clemson's 2014 class in our live blog, and in the afternoon, we'll bring you Dabo Swinney and Jeff Scott's breakdown of the new crop of Tigers.

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