Clemson lost out to Notre Dame Monday for OT Sam Pendleton of Pfafftown, NC when he announced his commitment to the Fighting Irish. At one point, Clemson looked to be in strong shape with Pendleton, but a visit to South Bend April 8th moved the needle to the Irish.
The Tigers and Irish are involved with two other major tackle prospects, and both were in South Bend Saturday for the spring game. Sullivan Absher (6-7 290) of Belmont, NC was also at Clemson’s spring game April 9th. He has the Tigers, Notre Dame and NC State as his final three.
Monroe Freeling (6-7 285) of Oceanside Collegiate also visited Clemson in March for a spring practice. He also was in for a game last October. This past weekend’s visit to Notre Dame was his third to South Bend, including the Cincinnati game last season. The visit gave him the chance to see what the program looks like under Marcus Freeman, the former defensive coordinator who replaced Brian Kelly when he left for LSU.
“Things have definitely changed,” Freeling said. “It’s a lot more family oriented. It felt more like Notre Dame than it did before if that makes any sense. It kind of feels fresh. It feels like there’s a lot of new energy, and that’s really good. I got to know Notre Dame for more of what it’s about rather than the history.”
Also on the visit, Freeling was able to meet for the first time with new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
“He doesn’t lie to you. He doesn’t try to sell you,” Freeling said. “He just told me, if you come here, I will try to develop you and make you a really good football player. It’s things like that that really matter.”
Freeling has also visited Miami and Florida this spring and wants to get to Ohio State and Michigan at some point before he begins official visits this summer. He will go back to Notre Dame June 10th and back to Miami June 24th.
Clemson will get their official visit during the season. Freeling said everything remains status quo with the Tigers and offensive line coach Thomas Austin.
“I’ve been hearing from them for a while, ever since they offered me,” Freeling said. “They’ve just been speaking on what they have to offer. They are going to win national championships. I have a good relationship with Coach Austin. I’ll probably have to develop that and grow more of a relationship with him.”
USC made a run at Freeling early in the recruiting process, but he said nothing special ever materialized for him with the Gamecocks.
“Not really,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s my cup of tea to be honest. Ever since I had a game day visit (for Kentucky game) it kind of just fell off.”
Unlike so many national-level prospects, Freeling said he’s in no hurry to make his decision. He wants to take his time and make sure of his plans, because he only wants to do this once.
“I think if I rush it, I’ll make a mistake,” Freeling said. “I don’t want to make an impulsive decision off of the top of my head. I think I want to make a calm, collected decision. I don’t want to transfer. I don’t want to have to decommit or any of that.”
Freeling said Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels was in to check on him Monday. There should be a steady parade of coaches thru the school to see Freeling over the next four weeks. He’s expecting Clemson to be in next week or the following week.