Highly-Ranked DE Ari Watford Commits To Clemson For 2025

Clemson’s 2025 recruiting class received a significant boost with the addition of defensive end Ari Watford. Ranked at No. 31 in the 2025 ESPN 300, Watford is not only the third-best defensive end in this recruiting cycle but also becomes the highest-rated player in the Tigers’ class.

Watford made the decision to commit to Clemson over other competitive programs like Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. Standing at an impressive 6-foot-6 and weighing 230 pounds, Watford is a standout player from Maury High School in Virginia, further solidifying Clemson’s commitment to strengthening its defensive line through recruiting.

Under the guidance of Coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson has made significant strides in recruiting defensive linemen over the past two full cycles. In 2023, the Tigers secured the commitment of five ESPN 300 defensive linemen, including five-star Peter Woods, who was ranked fourth overall in the 2023 class by ESPN. This recruiting class was ranked 11th nationally. As the traditional signing day approaches on Feb. 7, Clemson’s 2024 group currently holds the 14th spot in national rankings.

The Tigers’ defense delivered strong performances in the previous season, finishing eighth nationally in both total defense (allowing 287.8 yards per game) and passing defense (allowing 173.2 yards per game). These defensive efforts propelled the team to a five-game winning streak to conclude the season after a challenging 4-4 start.

Clemson is gearing up for an exciting start to the 2024 season, with a highly-anticipated matchup against Georgia scheduled for August 31st.