Jackson Carman picked up the Clemson visor and put it on his head Wednesday morning at Fairfield High School, leaving Ohio State coach Urban Meyer without a signature from the top-rated 2018 prospect in Ohio for the first time.
When did Carman, the five-star offensive tackle, make his final decision?
“This morning — after a long, hot shower,” he said.
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Why did Carman spurn the Buckeyes for coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers?
“Just being down there with him, interacting with him, you could just kind of tell that his aura was different,” said of the Clemson coach. “Seeing not only that he interacts with people but his players and the whole staff and everybody down there is on the same page.”
He also noted the success Clemson has enjoyed lately — including three straight ACC championships, five straight bowl wins and last year’s national championship — and their strength and conditioning program.
While he called Ohio State one of the top three programs in college football history, he was attracted by the opportunity to help Clemson stake a claim as one of the preeminent programs of the present.
“(Swinney) also kind of mentioned that Urban was on the back half of his career, which he is, and that Dabo is just starting up, so I mean having the chance to be a part of something that’s upcoming and establish Clemson as a top three figure is something,” Carman said.
The 53-year-old Meyer is only five years older than Swinney, but Meyer got his first head-coaching gig in 2001, seven years before Swinney.
“Not hugely,” Carman said when asked if the age of the coaches matter, “but it was an underlying factor.”
Carman’s decision did not mark the first time Meyer failed to sign any top-rated player from Ohio, but 2018 is the first time he didn’t get at least one of them.
Tommy Kraemer of Elder was 247Sports’ No. 1 in 2016 and went to Notre Dame, but the Buckeyes signed Jonathan Cooper of Gahanna Lincoln that season. Cooper topped scout.com's rankings in the Buckeye State.
Carman also had USC in his final three but the appeal of going to school in California was not enough to overcome the Trojans’ having less recent success compared to the Buckeyes and Tigers.
“I would say Ohio State was probably a little bit closer just because of the prestige Ohio State has as a program, but when I finally came to the realization Clemson was the place for me, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt at peace with the decision,” Carman said.
Even though he had identified Clemson as his No. 1 school at one point during his recruitment, most analysts seemed to feel he would still end up a Buckeye when all was said and done.
Instead, he called Meyer on Wednesday morning to tell him he is heading south.
“It was hard but it was necessary,” Carman said. “And he obviously wasn’t happy but that’s how this game goes, you know what i mean? That’s part of this business and he understands that going into it.”
As for breaking with recent trends and spurning the Buckeyes, Carman said, “I understand why everyone else would be surprised with me being from Ohio and Ohio State being who they are, but I do feel like this was the best decision for me, and I”m glad I made it.
“If leaving Ohio is necessary for me to be able to start my legacy that’s a decision that’s gonna have to be made and I wasn’t afraid to make that decision.”