Monday Insider

Paul Strelow, Recruiting Analyst
Tiger Illustrated

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1. Time for Dabo Swinney & Co. to break out the picnic tablecloths and dust off their dance moves.

The sixth annual “All-In Cookout” is now just days away.

Clemson will hold its signature recruiting social Friday evening.

The event brings in the Tigers’ commitments and their families, and it typically includes some sort of food-eating contest among players and coaches as well as informal dancing.

Pledge retention and overall morale are two big components to the function.

But its primary newsworthiness, of course, stems from the Tigers treating it as an open house for a select few uncommitted prospects.

Many programs have adopted a cookout format for a summer shindig. Yet emblematic of Clemson’s unconventional recruiting strategy, those programs bring in a much more expansive pool of prospects – oftentimes, including underclassmen.

Alabama is expecting at least 30 prospects in for its “Champions Cookout” on the same date. South Carolina figures to host at least two dozen prospects from the next two cycles for its “Spurs Up” even Saturday. Georgia had a bunch of recruits in during the weekend.


Clemson's staff brought in five uncommitted prospects at the last Cookout, three of which were deemed priority gets. The Tigers nabbed all three … eventually.

When the Cookout was introduced in 2012, Clemson scored three immediate commitments from the social. Running back Tyshon Dye and receiver Demarcus Robinson pulled the trigger that Friday night, as did 2014 tight end Cannon Smith.

Since then, the Cookout has yielded just two on-the-spot commitments: 2013 under-radar defensive lineman Jabril Robinson and 2016 five-star linebacker Tre Lamar.

The meat has tended to come off the bone in the weeks or even months following the event.

Mike Williams (2013), Scott Pagano (2013), Austin Bryant (2015), Ray-Ray McCloud (2015), Nyles Pinckney (2016), Jordan Williams (2017) and A.J. Terrell (2017) all announced a commitment in the days or weeks afterward. Justin Foster waited till October last cycle to declare.

Clemson's staff has historically preferred to wrap up about three-fourths of its class by the time August camp arrives so it can turn attention to the season.

With its momentum and national profile, the Tigers have taken the logical risk of getting involved this class with more high-profile prospects whose decisions aren’t expected to come until close to National Signing Day in February.

Yet it will be interesting to see if Clemson can close the deal on a big name over the next month.

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