In this modern age of college football, Clemson has what has become a unique way of putting together a roster. They generally sign fewer recruits because their attrition rate is so low and the Tigers have not dipped into the transfer portal at all.
While some things change, some things stay the same. Clemson suffered personnel turnover in recent months as several 2021 Tigers decided to play elsewhere in 2022 creating open spots on next year’s roster. But Dabo Swinney still had just 20 high school seniors put pen to paper during the recent recruiting cycle and though he did accept a transfer, it was a familiar face that is returning to the program.
Here are four incoming freshmen and that one sort of new graduate transfer that could make an impact for the Tigers next fall.
Hunter Johnson, QB
Johnson was a five-star quarterback when he signed with Clemson in 2017. As decorated as he was coming out of high school, when the Tigers landed Trevor Lawrence one year later, his chance of being the starter went out the window. As a result, the Indiana native transferred to Northwestern, where his career never really took off. Johnson originally approached Swinney about a graduate assistant coaching position when he was offered a spot on the roster. While he provides veteran depth at quarterback, his chances of beating out D.J. Uiagalelei may not be great because of…
Cade Klubnik, QB
If Uiagalelei struggles again and is pushed for playing time, it is likely to be by the nation's top incoming quarterback prospect. His physical tools are very good but don't necessarily stand out. What is eye-catching is Klubnik's pocket presence and elite accuracy. Coming out of Texas prep powerhouse Austin Westlake, Klubnik will be as prepared as any freshman quarterback in this class.
Jaedyn Lukus, CB
Lukus walks into a situation rife with opportunity. Andrew Booth Jr. and Mario Goodrich have moved on to the NFL and the Clemson staff will be looking for new corners. While there is always plenty of talent on the Tigers' defensive roster, the Mauldin, South Carolina, product is a long player that can move very well. If he can add strength by the time the 2022 season begins, Lukus will get a serious shot to play.
Toriano Pride, CB
Battling right there with Lukus will be the East St. Louis, Illinois, product. While not as tall as the 6-foot-2 Lukus, Pride still has decent size (5-11) and is an electric athlete in his own right. He excels in coverage and, like most freshmen, will have to adapt to the physicality of the college game. If he can, playing time may be in the cards for this coming season.
Antonio Williams, WR
Wide receiver is another position that saw some Tigers leave either for the next level or other universities. There is top-end talent returning in players like Joseph Ngata, Beaux Collins, E.J. Williams, and Dacari Collins, but Antonio Williams may be too good to keep off the field. A late offer, the Irmo, South Carolina, native picked Clemson over Auburn, Ole Miss, and South Carolina and was also pursued by Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas, and Michigan.
– Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.