Would Swinney use transfer portal to add a corner?


by - Senior Writer -
Malcolm Greene is a rising star for the Tigers.
Malcolm Greene is a rising star for the Tigers.

From the doghouse to the 'love shack' to somebody else’s house, Derion Kendrick has lived in a lot of places the last few months.

TigerNet broke the news early Sunday that Kendrick, a senior cornerback, was no longer with the program and would seek to play somewhere else via the transfer portal. From everything we’ve been told, this wasn’t a decision made by Kendrick -- this was a decision made by head coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney felt like he had given Kendrick more than the usual allotment of three strikes to gain some maturity and be a good leader and teammate.

After Kendrick missed the Pittsburgh game last season, Swinney said that Kendrick wasn’t in the dog house -- he was merely in the love shack as the head coach tried to win over the Rock Hill native with a little tough love. The lease on the love shack ran out.

Clemson will be just fine without Kendrick, but his absence does create a bit of a depth issue at the cornerback spot. The Tigers also lost LeAnthony Williams – listed as Kendrick’s backup – to the transfer portal a few weeks ago. Instead of the eight scholarship corners the Tigers had a few weeks ago, there are now six.

Based off of what we saw last season, it appears that Mario Goodrich, Sheridan Jones, and Andrew Booth will battle it out for the top two spots. But freshmen Fred Davis and Malcolm Greene are rising stars and will have a say in what happens, while 2021 signee Nathaniel Wiggins will use the spring to learn the playbook and get used to the speed of the college game.

Wiggins has the size and athleticism that corners coach Mike Reed loves, but he has a long way to go before surpassing any of the veterans. Greene started three games last season, but two of those starts were at the nickel spot. If the Tigers are now down another corner, will Greene stay at the nickel spot? Or will Venables move Greene back to corner and use one of his athletic safeties to fill that spot?

Davis is a former 5-star who has all the tools to be special, and this is an important spring in his progression.

Does this mean that Swinney will dip into the transfer portal? Swinney has told the media over the last few weeks that he is reticent to use the portal because he believes his program develops players better than anyone else and all he has to do is go into his own locker room to replace a player.

“Nothing has changed,” Swinney said. “But I just know that the landscape is different, and I want to be well-positioned and I want to have an infrastructure in place that’s going to help us continue to compete to be the best.

“Our philosophy has always been to recruit high school kids. … We haven’t gone the transfer route – now the portal – ever, to address the needs of our team. We’ve just always taken a lot of pride in our evaluation of high school kids, and then our development of those kids. We’ve always been a developmental program. That’s not ever going to change. That philosophy’s always going to be in place.”

However, Swinney left the door open that a change in circumstances could open the door for a transfer. The Tigers have had three defensive scholarship players leave the program in the last few weeks, and when you go through a 12-game regular season and bowl season, you need every able body you can get. The Tigers are also now down two players at corner and are a few sprained ankles from being really thin across the board. The Tigers are at 81 scholarship players as of this writing, so there is room to add a player.

There are a few quality corners left on the board in the portal. However, many have already been to two or three different schools, and that means they don’t appear to be a fit for Swinney’s culture. In all truth, it’s doubtful Swinney would go that route anyway. But it’s possible and it bears watching.

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