Clemson lost out on one of its top priority targets at cornerback earlier this week. In a one-on-one battle against Ohio State, the Tigers saw Florida three-star Ryan Turner lock in a commitment with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.
But the Tigers, as talked about on Wednesday, are still sitting in a good position with their 2022 defensive backs class. They still have a good line on in-state five-star Jeadyn Lukus and four-star Toriano Pride, who are each coming off positive visits at the spring game. And a busy Thursday evening saw a slew of updates at the position.
Clemson still in mix for five-star Daylen Everette, three-star Jayden Bellamy
In addition to Jeadyn Lukus, another of the Tigers’ five-star cornerback targets has Clemson as a top option.
Daylen Everette, the nation’s No. 38 overall prospect and No. 7 cornerback per the 247Sports Composite, is down to five schools. Clemson, Georgia, Oregon, North Carolina and Florida State are the top choices.
Top 5 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/VyXxxMD8MF
— Daylen Everette (@DaylenEverette) May 6, 2021
Everette is scheduled for official visits to Georgia and North Carolina in June. The Tar Heels will get the final visit, and they are emerging as the Tigers’ top competition.
Everette is a native of Virginia, playing his first two seasons at Norfolk’s Norview High School before transferring to IMG (Fla.) Academy. Everette’s older brother, Donovan, is a defensive end in the 2021 class and will play at North Carolina’s Elon University after signing in April. Growing up just three hours away from Chapel Hill and having his older brother playing his college ball less than an hour away could play a factor.
Clemson will also play a role down the stretch in the recruitment of rising three-star corner Jayden Bellamy. The Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) standout also released a list of his top schools. His top choices are Clemson, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
— Jayden Bellamy (@jaydenknows_) May 6, 2021
The Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) standout was offered by the Tigers exactly two weeks before releasing that list. Like the next defensive back target discussed, an offer this late in the process didn’t stop Clemson from making the cut.
Bellamy is looking to make an unofficial visit to Clemson sometime this summer. He already has official visits set up with Penn State, Notre Dame and Ohio State in June.
Tigers enter upper echelon for top-100 CB Earl Little Jr.
Earl Little Jr. only spoke with the Clemson coaching staff for a total of about two hours on Thursday. But that was enough for the four-star out of powerhouse American Heritage (Fla.) to put the Tigers in his top tier.
A quick call with Brent Venables during lunch on Thursday paved the way for a 1-hour, 40-minute Zoom call with the Tigers’ defensive staff after school. They gave him a tour around the weight room, training room and the rest of the facilities.
And then the nation’s 12th-ranked cornerback got the bombshell.
“Coach Venables was talking to me about life after football and building a relationship. It’s not just a football program. Then they offered me,” Little tells ClemsonSports.com. “It kind of numbed me. I’m still in shock that Clemson offered because Clemson’s been a school I’ve been waiting to offer me for a little minute, and it finally came [Thursday].
“I was shocked. For a big-time program, for those guys to like me and talk about me how they were talking about was incredible.”
Wow… After a genuine conversation with @CoachVenables and the whole entire defensive staff, I’m extremely blessed to have earned an offer from Clemson University! @CUCoachReed @ClemsonFB #Allfacts #ALLIN #blessed pic.twitter.com/gl7laraE1w
— Earl Little Jr (@EarlLittleJr1) May 6, 2021
Little, the son of former NFL defensive back Earl Little, holds nearly 40 offers. The highlights are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and USC. He already has his five official visits set up with those programs. USC is scheduled for one in the summer, and the other four are set for the fall. But the Tigers entering the fray has them instantly in the mix.
Little tells ClemsonSports.com that he is likely to replace one of those five with an official visit to Death Valley with a Clemson offer now on the table. Look for USC to be the one that gets replaced.
Little is now aware of Clemson’s policy to not hold official visits in the summer. But he says he will take an official visit “whenever they want me to visit.”
He’s also aware of the Tigers’ Elite Retreat on June 12-13 in which they are hosting several of their top targets for unofficial visits. He and the staff have not gone through the specifics of setting up any official or unofficial visit quite yet, but it could be around the corner. Right now it’s all about “getting in a groove, communicating with my parents and start building a relationship.”
Little is familiar with Tigers cornerbacks coach Mike Reed after a run-in his freshman year. Reed recruited some of Little’s upperclassmen teammates, and they briefly met in person. Reed is part of the contingent getting to know Little. That includes a detailed vision for the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back.
“Coach Venables was talking to me about my passion, my passion for the game, and I play with a chip on my shoulder. He said I’m a ferocious kid and aggressive,” says Little, who runs a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash. “He told me I can play all three positions in their defensive backfield – corner, slot/nickel, safety, all that. They like me at their cheetah position, who basically sticks the slot receiver.
“That’s how he told me they would use me in their scheme. They would send me off the edge and blitz. If they need me at corner, they would put me over there, or if they need me back (at safety) making plays.”
It’s likely that the offer to Little came at this time because the Tigers saw Ryan Turner go elsewhere. The Tigers are now down to 13 uncommitted defensive back targets with offers (eight cornerbacks, five safeties). They continue their search for what we believe is their target number – two corners and two safeties.
When it comes to Little, all of the above is said with the major caveat that Alabama remains the team to beat here. The Crimson Tide have been locked into his recruitment well before they offered him in April of 2020.
Little attends the same American Heritage program that produced top-10 NFL draft pick Patrick Surtain II. Add in that Surtain’s father is the head coach of the powerhouse, and there’s a strong connection with the Tide.