‘Why not be a part of a great culture?’: 4-star Peach State LB talks Clemson commitment

Denmark (Alpharetta, Ga.) four-star linebacker Dee Crayton became the latest player in the class of 2023 to verbally pledge to Clemson.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior is ranked as high as the nation’s rising No. 135 overall prospect in the 2023 class by Rivals, which considers him the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country for his class.

In an exclusive interview with The Clemson Insider Saturday night, Crayton detailed his commitment decision and what set the Tigers apart from other finalists in his recruitment.

“The main thing was the family environment and feeling like home literally every time I was on campus,” Crayton said. “Even when I was younger, it was actually the only camp I’d ever been to as a kid before I became a recruit. Even then, they made me feel so comfortable and at home with me and my family.

“Watching Clemson growing up as a kid with that winning culture and Coach Swinney doing such a great job all these years, it feels unreal,” he continued. “So, that was a big thing as well — my relationship with the coaching staff, especially Coach Wes (Goodwin). He’s such a great coach and I’m definitely excited to be coached by him. He’s been recruiting me so hard, even before they offered. As soon as he got the defensive coordinator position, he’s always been talking to me and my family. He’s been constantly recruiting me and I was actually the first linebacker he offered when he got the position, so that definitely played a part.”

Crayton said that he felt like a priority ever since Clemson offered him back on Feb. 23. Since then, he’s received nothing but love from the coaching staff and the fans alike. That played a big role in why he chose Clemson as his next destination, as well as the distance from his home.

When we spoke with Crayton last month, he had identified the Tigers as one of the finalists in his recruitment. His Clemson official visit was up first, though, and that’s really all that he needed to see. The official visit weekend is when Crayton started to feel like he couldn’t go wrong with picking Clemson.

“Me and my family we both knew, we had a feeling it was going to be like that too, but the official just exceeded our expectations,” he said. “It’s been great every time we’ve been. It’s like, why not be a part of a great culture both on and off the field? The best is the standard is what they always say there and it really is…That official definitely set the mark for me and my family that we set in stone that Clemson was my place to be.”

That following Tuesday, Crayton called Swinney to make it official. He knew that Clemson was where he wanted to be, but he also wanted to take a couple of days to sleep on it and make sure that he was making the right decision.

Swinney was getting a haircut when Crayton informed him of his decision. It wasn’t long after that Mill Creek (Hoschton, Ga.) four-star linebacker Jamal Anderson, who will likely be Crayton’s roommate, did the same. The Tigers are only taking two linebackers in the class of 2023 and both of them needed to secure their spots.

Crayton returned to Clemson last week to film his commitment video. He was back on campus alongside Anderson and Warner Robins (Ga.) four-star defensive lineman Vic Burley. All three players committed to Clemson this past week with Crayton joining Saturday, continuing to add a huge Peach State presence in Clemson’s 2023 class.

“We already know what this class is gonna bring,” Crayton said. “We know the players that’s coming, we’re just waiting for it to hit the public. We got the image in mind — we want to win. We want to compete and get each other better. We want to bring another natty to Clemson, so we’re gonna keep building this class…don’t expect nothing but the best. It’s definitely gonna be a lot more recruits in the near future…stay tuned for that.”

With the addition of Crayton, Clemson’s 2023 class now ranks No. 9 nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

While Crayton plans to be an early enrollee and is taking some classes this summer to make happen, it hasn’t set in quite yet that he’ll be enrolled at Clemson and on-campus in just six months.

“It doesn’t even feel real even with this commitment,” Crayton said, “because when I was younger, just watching Clemson winning those championships, seeing those great players in the past and now I’m about to be one. I’m committed to a school where I’ve seen Coach Swinney in those big games every Saturday.”

“Coach Swinney’s a great guy,” he continued. “I’m excited to be coached by him.”

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