Clemson defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall is looking for a few good men, and while DE AJ Hoffler (6-5 245) of Atlanta might not be Tom Cruise, he clearly fits that criterion.
Hoffler took his first official visit to Clemson last weekend. The 2023 prospect was joined by his parents and grandparents, but it was time spent with his peers that made the biggest impression.
“I would say hanging out with all of the players, both the recruits and the players on the actual team,” Hoffler said of the trip. “That was probably the highlight of my visit because I got to bond with them and stuff. My host was Myles Murphy, but I hung out with pretty much the whole defensive line. They are cool. One of the coaches said that me and Myles have the same personality.”
Clemson is losing senior defensive ends KJ Henry, Justin Mascoll, and Xavier Thomas, and could lose Murphy if he has a big year. That leaves a smaller group of inexperienced players, including Zaire Patterson, Cade Denhoff, Kevin Swint, Greg Williams, and Jaheim Lawson. As a result, the message from the players to Hoffler was clear – come to Clemson if you want the chance to play early.
“They felt like, especially because Clemson is losing a bunch of ends, that it would be good for me,” he said. “But they all told me to take my other visits and compare them to Clemson, and if Clemson is still number one for you after that, then go ahead and commit. Because they said that what you see is what you get at Clemson on a day-to-day basis. They were telling me to make sure to take the other visits, but if I really like Clemson to go ahead and commit.”
Hall made his wishes perfectly clear.
“He said I was one of his top guys and he really wants me to go there,” the Georgia native stated. “He loves my personality and the way I play football. That’s a bit of a factor (playing time), and I would consider that, playing as a freshman. That is something I am looking at.”
Hoffler said a decision might come sooner rather than later. He also has had Ohio State high up on his list.
“Right now, my timeline is August 9th, but it might change and be sometime in the next two months. Clemson is definitely at the top and they have a good shot.”
Hoffler also has an official visit set to North Carolina on June 24th. Among his unofficial visits in recent months were USC, Georgia, Ohio State, Florida and Alabama.
Last season, Hoffler totaled 52 tackles with 21 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.