Shrine Bowl Insider: Clemson commit impressive in early workouts


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Kendrick was impressive Monday
Kendrick was impressive Monday

ROEBUCK – College and high school coaches and a smattering of fans descended on the practice fields behind Dorman High School Monday for the opening practice ahead of Saturday’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

There isn’t as much top-tier talent as in year’s past, and there were three players on hand that matter to Clemson – commits Jake Venables and Derion Kendrick on the South Carolina squad and defensive end target K.J. Henry out of North Carolina.

*We will start with North Carolina receiver Jordyn Adams, who was sporting a pair of Clemson gloves during workouts. Adams committed to North Carolina – where his dad is a coach – back in July but the Clemson coaches have kept in contact. No, he won’t flip. He just likes the gloves.

*South Carolina quarterback commit Dakereon Joyner walked up to me before the afternoon session, pointed to his chest, and said, “Excuse me, sir. You have something on your shirt.”

I was wearing a National Championship pullover that had both Clemson and Alabama helmets on it, and when I looked down he broke into a huge smile and told me I needed a Gamecock on there. I laughed and responded that South Carolina needed to make it to the championship first.

Joyner was inconsistent during Monday’s practices, but every time I talk to him I am reminded of what a great kid he is. I told him I would still pull for him, and he said it was sad that not everyone feels that way. I have a feeling this process has been hard on him. Great kid.

*Kendrick lined up at running back, quarterback and slot receiver during the morning session but worked exclusively at receiver (while I was there) in the afternoon session. His speed – and first step – are noticeable. One high school coach told me “he tore us up” while another told me that Kendrick might be the best player on the Sandlapper roster.

He ran routes with ease during the afternoon session, and even reached behind his body to make a one-handed catch. It will be interesting to see how the South Carolina coaches use Kendrick Saturday – he played quarterback at South Pointe and is certainly a threat with the ball in his hands. He ran a few sweeps out of the running back spot Monday morning and he gets up the field as quick as anybody.

*One player who wasn’t there but I got asked about a lot is Dorman quarterback Ben Batson, the son of Clemson strength coach Joey Batson. One rival coach said Batson is underrated and is worthy of a D1 scholarship but feels like his closeness to the Clemson staf hurts him when it comes to offers.

As one coach put – that kid is a baller.

*Venables played outside linebacker Monday, even though the defense did very limited drill work while I was watching. It will be interesting to see how the coaches plan to use him the rest of this week.

*Hopefully you saw the story on K.J. Henry that we posted earlier, and we will have more on him in a later article.


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