Five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the No. 1 overall player in the 2016 recruiting class, basically had it narrowed down to two schools before making his decision live on ESPN during 2016 National Signing Day. It was either Clemson or Michigan - and he chose the Wolverines.
But it wasn't all fun and games in the week leading up to his decision.
According to The Record, the Paramus Catholic athletic department received a disturbing voice mail at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 28 from somebody calling himself "Clemson Dan," littered with race-driven references. The message was intended for Gary, who was scheduled to visit Clemson with his mother the very next day.
The Record obtained the voice mail.
“Yes, this here is ‘Clemson Dan,’ and this message is for Mr. Rashan Gary,” the man said on the voice mail. “We just wantin’ to know if you’re coming down here for a visit, you better be serious about it, ’cause there’s only two things we love and that’s Clemson football and the KKK.”
“If you’re coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football. Clemson and the KKK, the two things we love the most,” the caller said.
The school immediately informed the Paramus Police Department and the message is now part of an active investigation. School officials also informed Gary, his mother and even Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables of the message before the following day's visit.
Convinced is wasn't somebody from Clemson and rather a rival that didn't want her son to choose the Tigers, Jennifer Coney played the message for members of the football staff once they arrived on campus.
“So you better not be fooling around, if you’re gonna get a visit, you better be commitin’,” “Clemson Dan” said on the voice mail.
“So, just be aware, this ain’t no fooling thing. We Clemson. We big-time football down here.”
“We don’t take no losers, no stragglers, no lazies, no dumb people,” the voice mail from “Clemson Dan” continued, “so if you’re coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football.”
The identity of "Clemson Dan" remains unknown. And while most involved in the investigation believe it to be a ruse, Coney admitted to The Record that the voice mail did bother her and sway her feelings toward Clemson. Though, she insisted that it did not influence her son's decision.
Gary committed to Michigan six days later live on ESPN.
“So if you’re coming down here, you better be serious,” “Clemson Dan” ended his phone message. “All right Rashan Gary, you better be the real deal. Over and out, this is ‘Clemson Dan’ saying goodbye.”
College football recruiting - at times - can be an ugly game, but this was nothing short of disgusting.