Nothing like some big recruiting news to ease the pain of a big on field defeat. The day after Clemson’s crushing loss to Ohio State, the Tigers got a feel-good moment Saturday afternoon when one of the top offensive tackles in the 2021 class, Tristan Leigh (6-5 275) of Fairfax, VA announced his commitment to the Tigers on the national broadcast Declaration Day on NBC.
Leigh picked the Tigers over Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Florida. He said in making his announcement the Clemson culture stood out to him the most.
“It starts with coach (Dabo) Swinney and the message he brings down to his players which is it’s all a family and we win together and do everything together,” Leigh said. “We lose together and we win together. That’s made them successful.”
In an interview in early 2020 after an unofficial visit to Clemson, Leigh cited a budding relationship with offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell as a big reason he starting moving toward the Tigers in his recruiting. Caldwell certainly was eyeing Leigh as a potential replacement for junior left tackle Jackson Carman who could be moving on to the NFL this spring.
“Coach (Robbie) Caldwell, he’s a real dude,” Leigh said. “He said he likes my length and my size. He said he likes how violent and aggressive I play. He said I’m right for his style and I can move really well for a big dude.”
Leigh visited Clemson for the 2019 Florida State game, and then returned for a junior day in January of this year, and that really set him on the path that led to his announcement Saturday.
“I got a better feel than from the game,” Leigh said. “I know it was cool to be in the game day atmosphere, but at the junior day, they really showed me how I would be incorporated into their program. And in the business world, I know they take care of their players and try to make enough opportunity for players to have when we retire.”
Leigh is ranked the #11 prospect nationally in the 247Sports Composite, the #4 offensive tackle and the #1 prospect in Virginia. Clemson announced his official signing this afternoon and he becomes the 19th signee for the class.