TAMPA — Plant offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen had nearly 30 Division I-A offers from which to choose. But all it took was one visit and one promise for the consensus four-star recruit to make up his mind.
"The coach, he specifically said I'm going to hold up that (national championship) crystal ball one day," Fruhmorgen said about his February visit to Clemson. "When he said that, I looked into his eyes and realized he's the kind of coach I want to play for."
In front of about 100 teammates and family members at Plant's field house on Thursday, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder orally committed to the Tigers, putting to rest a long recruiting process.
Fruhmorgen, who narrowed his choices to Michigan, Florida and Clemson, said he felt comfortable with the Tigers' fast-paced offense. He said it is similar, in some ways, to Plant's.
Seeing his players commit to big-name programs is nothing new for coach Robert Weiner, whose Panthers have won four state titles in eight years. But this occasion, Weiner admitted Thursday, was special.
Fruhmorgen's grandfather, Bill Minahan, was Weiner's high school coach at Jesuit. Minahan, a mentor to Weiner and Fruhmorgen, died in December, and Weiner was quick to acknowledge his memory.
"It makes this moment definitely more poignant," he said.
Now that the big decision is past him, Fruhmorgen, whose oral commitment can become binding in February, said he is ready to focus on his last season with the Panthers.
As a senior this fall, he will anchor an offensive line that loses starters Ray Raulerson and Richard Bush, Tennessee and Princeton signees, respectively.
And even though Thursday was about celebrating his new team, Fruhmorgen couldn't forget his current one.
"The team gets you to where you want to be," he said. "I'm just happy to have this decision over with so I can be a Panther before I become a Tiger."