Setting the Bar: Clemson's 2020 Recruiting Class Could Set Lofty Standard for Ryan Day, College Football Powers

By Andrew Ellis on May 14, 2019 at 12:05 pm
Dabo Swinney has already build an absurd 2020 recruiting class.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Four of the country's 2020 five-star prospects are already committed to a single program.

Over the last decade or so, the national recruiting rankings have been dominated by a handful of programs. Clearly, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have been the cream of the crop with eight No. 1 finishes dating back to 2010. During that span, the only other teams to capture the top spot have been Urban Meyer's Gators in 2010 and Georgia in 2018.

Ohio State, LSU, Florida State, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the other schools who have challenged for the top spot during that time. It's obviously not a surprise that some of the country's powerhouse programs have been doing well on the trail; especially with several of them residing in some of the nation's talent hotbeds.

For Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers, a pair of recent titles have the reigning national champions recruiting at a torrid pace. It's still early in the cycle, but Clemson's 2020 recruiting class may set a new bar that Ohio State and the rest of the country will be looking up to.

Recruiting Rankings (Signees): 2016-2020
PROGRAM 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
ALABAMA No. 1 (25) No. 1 (29) No. 5 (22) No. 1 (27) No. 3 (16)
OHIO STATE No. 4 (25) No. 2 (21) No. 2 (26) No. 14 (17) No. 11 (8)
GEORGIA No. 6 (23) No. 3 (26) No. 1 (26) No. 2 (24) No. 5 (9)
CLEMSON No. 11 (21) No. 16 (14) No. 7 (17) No. 10 (29) No. 1 (14)

Ohio State has been involved in countless recruiting battles with virtually all of the nation's top programs. That's just the nature of the beast when it comes to this stuff. But Clemson has given the Buckeyes some problems of late; though it's really no surprise considering the Tigers have taken it to Bama and plenty of other powerhouses on the trail.

Clemson nabbed five-star tackle Jackson Carman out of Fairfield back in 2018 and the 2020 class isn't short on star power with four five-stars already committed. That includes Buckeye targets in defensive lineman Bryan Bresee, tailback Demarkcus Bowman, and cornerback Fred Davis II.

Ohio State was believed to be the leader for both Bresee and Davis early on in the process. The former resides in prime Larry Johnson territory while Davis plays at Jacksonville's Trinity Christian; which has become a bit of a pipeline school of late with Shaun Wade, Tyreke Johnson, and Marcus Crowley all heading to Columbus.

When compared to some of the other top programs, Swinney has tended to sign smaller classes than what we're used to seeing at Ohio State and certainly in the SEC. Clemson's recent recruiting rankings haven't been all that spectacular for a perennial power, but a lot of that can likely be attributed to the number of signees (though the 29 in 2019 was an outlier).

The whole quality vs. quantity debate is tough to grasp when it comes to the various sites' rankings, but neither has been an issue this cycle. Clemson has 14 total commits with four of those being of the five-star variety and the rest all being four-stars.

For the Class of 2020, the Tigers are currently in the top spot and some have speculated on the possibility of Dabo signing a five-star at every single position group. Ryan Day and Brian Hartline are hoping to put a halt to that — at least temporarily — on May 31st when Julian Fleming announces his intentions. A blue chipper at each position is far-fetched, but it doesn't take away from what the Tigers are doing on the trail.

There's still a long way to go for the 2020 class, but it's looking like Clemson could set the bar for the other national powers. There's no telling if it will finish as the top-rated class of all time (doubtful), but it's a real possibility in terms of the average rating per signee; which currently sits at a ridiculous 95.72. 

Whether you're Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, or Clemson, there's simply no way that anyone should expect that kind of production from year to year. For the Buckeyes, however, I do think it's fair to expect somewhat similar results with the Class of 2021. 

Ryan Day has already landed what may be the Buckeyes' top overall target regardless of class. That came in the form of five-star defensive lineman Jack Sawyer when he made the call back in February. The Pickerington (South) pass rusher is the country's No. 2 overall prospect for the 2021 class. Needless to say, that was a huge start for Day and Larry Johnson. 

The 2021 class is loaded with top-rated prospects who are heavily interested in Ohio State; some of which are outright favoring the Buckeyes at the moment. Four-star quarterback Kyle McCord made his commitment two weeks ago, and Brian Hartline has Ohio State in the driver's seat for his Philly teammate, Marvin Harrison Jr. Other touted prospects include Richfield, Ohio five-star tackle Ben Christman, Michigan tailback Donovan Edwards, wideout Lorenzo Styles Jr., and Washington athlete Emeka Egbuka

We're going to be hearing a lot about Clemson for the next several months, and it's for a very good reason. The Tigers are the defending national champions and Dabo Swinney is hotter than anyone on the recruiting trail. It's an extremely high bar for any program to look up to, but Ohio State may be at a similar level for the Class of 2021.

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