Clemson currently resides at the zenith of college football.
Having beaten Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January, the Tigers earned their second-ever national title while avenging a loss in the finale the year before.
Now, the question is: Can they sustain that success?
If recruiting is any indication, you can count on Clemson remaining a national contender.
On Saturday the Tigers received a verbal commitment from five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. According to the 247Sports Composite, the Florence native is the No. 2-ranked recruit in the 2018 class.
Coupled with fellow commit and five-star recruit Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback out of Cartersville, Ga., Clemson now has the top two recruits in 247Sports’ rankings.
The Tigers could make history, according to 247Sports, which reports that no team in the history of the 247Sports Composite has signed the top two players in the country in the same class.
“I’d say it’s pretty likely that Lawrence and Thomas remain one-two,” 247Sports’ Barton Simmons said in a recent article. “There are absolutely some very real contenders to challenge them so it’s no given but both of those guys have a body of work that will be hard to leap frog.”
Recruiting is no exact science, however, and some other sites have the rankings somewhat different. Nonetheless, the fact that Clemson is close to landing both five-star recruits is a good sign for those who bleed orange.
Overall, 247Sports ranks the Tigers’ 2018 class sixth, behind Miami, Penn State, Notre Dame, LSU and Ohio State. Clemson is 16th in the service’s 2017 rankings and was 11th and ninth, respectively, in 2016 and 2015.
The Tigers are also among contenders for five-star recruits Zamir White (running back, Laurinburg, N.C.), Patrick Surtain Jr. (cornerback, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Jamaree Salyer (guard, Atlanta), Jackson Carman (tackle, Fairfield, Ohio), Anthony Cook (cornerback, Houston), K.J. Henry (defensive end, Clemmons, N.C.), Teradja Mitchell (linebacker, Virginia Beach, Va.), Justyn Ross (receiver, Phenix City, Ala.) and Anthony Lytton (cornerback, Upper Marlboro, Md.), according to 274Sports.
“Dabo Swinney has really emerged as one of the elite head coach recruiters in the country along with [Ohio State’s] Urban Meyer, [Alabama’s] Nick Saban and [Florida State’s] Jimbo Fisher,” 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong said in the article. “I think that those four are in a little bit different category right now – [Michigan’s] Jim Harbaugh could be up there as well.
“On the defensive side of the ball, [Clemson’s] Brent Venables is as engaging a defensive coordinator recruiter as you’ll find in the country. Venables is just pumping out NFL players left and right at all three levels of the defense.”
The Tigers won their first national title in 1981, which equates to 35 years between their championships.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has proven to be an effective recruiter and is showing that the Tigers will continue to reload each season. Now, though, the results are showing on the field with a championship and two straight trips to the title game.
“You have (coaches) that not only put the time, energy and effort in on recruiting, but they’re producing on Saturdays,” Wiltfong said in the 247Sports article. “Recruits really respond to them.”
Don’t expect another 35 years to pass before Clemson wins it all again.