DE Ari Watford, No. 31 in 2025 class, commits to Clemson

Clemson added to its 2025 recruiting class Wednesday with defensive end Ari Watford.

Watford (No. 31 in the 2025 ESPN 300) is the third-best defensive end in the cycle and immediately becomes the highest-ranked player for the Tigers in the class.

He chose Clemson over Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Syracuse.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Watford attends Maury High School (Virginia) and is the top player from that state. His pledge continues a trend for coach Dabo Swinney in addressing the defensive line in recruiting.

In the past two full cycles, Clemson has signed six ESPN 300 defensive linemen -- with five coming in a 2023 class, led by five-star Peter Woods (No. 4 overall in 2023), that ESPN ranked 11th. With the traditional signing day approaching on Feb. 7, the Tigers' 2024 group sits 14th.

Last season, the Tigers' defense ended up eighth nationally in both total defense (287.8 YPG) and passing defense (173.2 YPG), spearheading a five-game winning streak to close out the year after gutting through a 4-4 start.

Clemson begins its 2024 season against Georgia on Aug. 31.