Garrett Riley Bound to Have Big Impact On Clemson Recruiting

Clemson wasted no time in getting Garrett Riley involved on the recruiting trail.

The Tigers’ new offensive coordinator, hired away from TCU last week, was seen over the weekend with 2024 priority OL target Blake Franks at Clemson basketball’s big win over Duke. Starting QB Cade Klubnik was also with the group.

On Monday, Riley was already on the road, as the staff made visits to some of the 2023 signees. Riley, along with head coach Dabo Swinney, WR coach Tyler Grisham and TE coach Kyle Richardson, stopped in to see WR Ronan Hanafin, who ranks No. 88 in the SI99, as well as TE Markus Dixon. 

However, with the 2023 class already locked up, it’s the 2024 cycle in which Riley’s hiring will have the most immediate impact.

TE Christian Bentancur, who just committed last Friday, is just one of three current players committed in the 2024 class, and he was the first verbal pledge on the offensive side of the ball. That means there is still a lot to work to do on that front. Many of the Tigers’ early targets have already been established, though, and it’s fairly safe to assume those won’t change much at this time.

Riley has already made subsequent stops throughout the week at the high schools of 2024 QBs Jadyn Davis and Jake Merklinger. Davis has long held an offer from the Tigers while Merklinger is on the radar. 

Clemson’s first big recruiting event of the year is set for January 28, when the Tigers will hold Elite Junior Day. Many priority targets will be on hand, so between now and then the new offensive coordinator can start building relationships with some players, something that is one of the primary focal points regarding the way Clemson goes about recruiting high school prospects. 

What kind of recruiter Riley really is, well that has yet to really be determined. He’s only been an offensive coordinator for three seasons and two of those were spent at SMU. He did just win the Broyles Award but he will be recruiting on a whole different level now. A different caliber of athlete.

Having said that, he was the hottest commodity in the country regarding offensive coordinators and the swiftness with which this hire was made had to reverberate across the nation with potential prospects. It proves that Swinney is still swinging a big stick, so to speak.

It’s a hire that brings some excitement back to a Clemson offense that had seen a sharp drop-off in production over the past couple of years. It’s the kind of offense that recruits want to play in, and make no mistake, the Tigers’ inability to field any type of consistent offense over the past two seasons is something that was being used against them on the recruiting trail.

Riley’s presence once again gives the Tigers some swagger, and something to fight back against any negative narratives out there about Swinney being overly loyal to his assistants and that he refuses to adapt. This absolutely looks like a homerun hire and it’s not going to be surprising at all to see it start having an immediate impact out on the recruiting trail.

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