With the month-long dead period commencing Sunday, 2023 OT Sam Pendleton (6-4 274) of Pfafftown, NC put his recruiting into overdrive. He made three stops over the final weekend before the NCAA mandated recruiting checker flag…Clemson, NC State and Virginia Tech. Clemson’s new offensive line coach Thomas Austin offered Pendleton earlier in the month and the visit allowed them to further develop their relationship considering he was the lone offensive lineman at the junior day.
“Coach Austin stepped into a really great role when Coach (Robbie) Caldwell decided to retire especially during the bowl game when he had to step in and coach tight ends,” Pendleton said. “Seeing him on the sideline and talking to him was a great thing to hear because it’s a lot to step in from a graduate assistant to the offensive line coach at a big university like Clemson. I feel like he’s going to handle it really well and he has handled it really well – being around guys when they’re working out, talking to the upperclassmen. I feel like he’s going to do a great job especially after some of the conversations we’ve had. I got to have some one-on-one time with Coach Austin and Coach (Dabo) Swinney. It was just really great to get down there, see everything more thoroughly, talk to the academic people, talk to the president and have some one-on-one time with the coaches.”
The highlight of the weekend for all the prospects had to be the Saturday night visit to the Swinney mansion about a mile from campus. The players got to see the coach in a more relaxed mode and play a little basketball in his half-court gym.
“That’s the first time I’ve met him and actually had a conversation with him,” Pendleton said. “It was really great. He just really expressed how much I fit their culture there and how much he thinks I’d like it there. I made it to his house and it was amazing. It was a great opportunity to mark some stuff off my bucket list. I was the big dude playing basketball. I feel like I was the underdog. I balled out and got him (Swinney) out once or twice. Now, I’ve got bragging rights. I got Dabo Swinney out once or twice at basketball. I had to show him my athleticism.”
Pendleton, who has 13 offers, now plans to organize his top five and make that public soon. And you can go ahead and count Clemson in that group.
“No doubt. I’ve told this to other people, but Clemson is a dream school for me,” Pendleton said. “At the beginning of my recruitment, they were the school I really wanted to hear from. They were the one school I thought was going to be the one. Getting into a little bit, there are a lot of awesome opportunities for me, but they still have that sentimental hold. They were my first love. They are definitely up there.”
Other offers for Pendleton include USC, Duke, East Carolina, Marshall, North Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, Michigan and Louisville. He plans to make his decision by the end of February or in early March.