Clemson at Virginia Tech: Recruiting Comparison

A talent comparison between third-ranked Clemson and Virginia Tech ahead of their primetime matchup this Saturday in Blacksburg.
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Clemson heads up to Blacksburg this weekend looking to clinch a spot in the ACC Championship Game for the sixth straight year. 

This will be the first time the Tigers have faced off with the Hokies since a 31-17 win in Blacksburg back in 2017. A game that was a little more one-sided than the final score would indicate. 

Today, these are two entirely different teams. Let's take a look at how they compare to one another from a talent standpoint using each teams most recent depth chart. 

Recruiting Comparison

Quarterback

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Trevor Lawrence (CU)

2018  5*

1

1 (No. 6 All-Time)

Hendon Hooker (VT)

2017  4*

11 (Dual)

337

Hooker has developed into a solid quarterback. However, he isn't Lawrence. In fact, no one in the country is

Advantage: Clemson

Running Back

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Travis Etienne (CU)

2017  4*

15

213

Khalil Herbert (VT)

2016  3*

143

2117

Herbert is having a solid season. He averages over 100 yards per game and more than 8 YPC. Those are Etienne like numbers. Before this season anyways. In his last two games against Miami and Pitt he's totaled 17 carries for 122 yards while also dealing with a hamstring. As for Etienne, nine games in and he's still waiting for that one huge game in which he breaks out. However, while Herbert has the numbers edge this season, it's Etienne that has the talent advantage.

Advantage: Clemson

Wide Receiver

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Cornell Powell (CU)

2016  4*

30

169

Amari Rodgers

2017  4*

16

117

EJ Williams

2020  4*

13

69

Tayvion Robinson (VT)

2019  4*

19 (ATH)

344

Tre Turner

2018  4*

34

180

Kaleb Smith

2018  3*

256

1765

Despite being injury depleted most of the season, the Tigers receivers have been a bright spot on this team. Cornell Powell has stepped up and asserted himself. Amari Rodgers has done the same thing. E.J. Williams, while still a freshman, is one of the more talented wideouts on the roster and keeps getting better each week. Turner and Robinson lead the way for the Hokies with 61 catches between the two, but from a talent perspective, this isn't close.

Advantage: Clemson

Tight End

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

Braden Galloway (CU)

2018  3*

41

858

James Mitchell (VT)

2018  4*

62 (WR)

374

Mitchell was a wide receiver that transitioned out to tight end. He is third on the Hokies with 20 catches and 357 yards this season and has also reeled in four touchdowns. Galloway has 21 catches for 267 yards and 2 touchdowns but also splits time with Davis Allen. 

Advantage: Push

Offensive Line

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

LT Jackson Carman (CU)

2018  5*

1

17

LG Matt Bockhorst

2017  4*

17

240

C Cade Stewart

2016  3*

163

2021

RG Will Putnam

2019  4*

5

101

RT Jordan McFadden

2018  3*

66

819

LT Christian Darrisaw (VT)

2018  3*

NA

748

LG Lecitus Smith

2017  3*

43 (TE)

926

C Brock Hoffman

2019  2*

205

3977

RG Doug Nester

2019  4*

6

106

RT Luke Tenuta

2018  3*

68

821

Clemson has three former blue chip players while the Hokies have just the one. They also have a former 2-star at center. While the Virginia Tech running game has been very good this season, it isn't necessarily due to an overpowering or very talented offensive line.

Advantage: Clemson

Defensive Line

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

DE KJ Henry (CU)

2018  5*

3

14

DT Tyler Davis

2019  4*

12

137

DT Bryan Bresee

2020  5*

1

1 (18 Overall)

DE Myles Murphy

2020  5*

1

7

LDE Justus Reed (VT)

2014  3*

33

799

DT Dashawn Crawford

2019  3*

11

76

NT Jarrod Hewitt

2016  3*

81

1330

RDE Emmanuel Belmar

2016  3*

66

1003

This one isn't even close. One team has a former blue chip at every position and the other has none. The Tigers front four could match up with most in the country from a pure talent perspective.

Advantage: Clemson

Linebacker

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

SAM Mike Jones Jr (CU)

2018  4*

15

210

MIKE James Skalski

2016  3*

44

680

WILL Baylon Spector

2017  3*

45

609

OLB Dax Hollifield (VT)

2018  4*

8

151

MLB Rayshard Ashby 

2017  3*

30

776

Some may remember Hollifiled from the Tigers pursuit of him back in 2018. However, he chose the Hokies over Clemson. The Virginia Tech linebackers were a little more highly rated by the recruiting services but they also run more of a 4-2-5 look. The Clemson backers have all outplayed their ranking.

Advantage: Clemson

Secondary

PlayerClass/StarsPosition RankOverall Rank

CB Derion Kendrick (CU)

2018  5*

4 (WR)

26

SS Lannden Zanders

2019  3*

61

781

FS Nolan Turner

2016 Unranked

Unranked

Unranked

CB Sheridan Jones

2019  4*

15

130

CB Jermaine Waller (VT)

2018  3*

81

912

NB Chamarri Canner

2017  4*

30

776

ROV Devin Taylor

2016  Unranked

Unranked

Unranked

FS Divine Deablo

2016  3*

70

415

CB Brion Murray 

2019  3*

20

164

The backend of the Clemson defense is starting to not only play up to their talent level but also to the hype they received from the coaching staff back in camp. Last weekend against Pitt was one of their better efforts of the season. Even without Zanders and Kendrick. The Virginia Tech secondary on the other hand, it's been hit hard by personnel issues this season and just hasn't been very good. 

Advantage: Clemson

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