The news broke Sunday morning all over the Clemson sports media outlets that fourth-year cornerback Derion Kendrick was no longer with the team. There has been no official announcement from Clemson. Dabo Swinney is scheduled to meet with the media Monday following practice, but Kendrick’s name has been scrubbed from the online roster.
Uniform #1 belongs solely to freshman running back Will Shipley.
Despite all the talent Clemson has accumulated for the secondary in recent seasons, Kendrick’s departure is no small hit for the Tigers. He was perhaps the fastest member of the secondary, and has the one-on-one cover skills needed for their schemes.
Remember, Kendrick started out at Clemson as a receiver and caught 15 passes in 2018 before moving to corner as an emergency fill-in. He never left. In his career, Kendrick totaled 68 tackles with 3 interceptions and 12 pass deflections. And teams usually stayed away from his corner.
His best season was in 2019 when he played 689 snaps at corner and totaled 51 tackles with 2 interceptions and 6 break ups. He was named second team All-ACC.
But last season was troublesome for Kendrick as he was in and out of the lineup and apparently not in good-standing with Swinney. He played in just 9 games and had 17 tackles with 1 interception and 6 pass deflections. He led the team in pass break-ups. And he was named first team All-ACC.
Kendrick also was a key special teams member in 2018 when he averaged over 23 yards per kickoff return on 13 attempts.
With Kendrick out, the Tigers will have Andrew Booth, Mario Goodrich, Fred Davis, Sheridan Jones and Malcolm Greene to battle for the cornerback spots this spring. They all played last season with Booth posting the best overall numbers with 27 tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 deflections.
Kendrick is expected to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal though it’s possible he could just make himself available for the NFL Draft. He is the sixth defensive player to leave Clemson since last season. Defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney transferred to Minnesota; defensive tackle Jordan Williams transferred to Virginia Tech; linebacker Mike Jones transferred to LSU; cornerback Le’Anthony Williams transferred to Marshall; and defensive end Jordan Foster retired due to health reasons.
The last time Clemson’s defense was on the field was January 1st. The Tigers allowed 49 points and 639 yards in the Sugar Bowl playoff loss to Ohio State. The defense will be tested right out of the gate this season with an opening game against Georgia in Charlotte. The Bulldogs will feature a strong passing game led by quarterback JT Daniels who in just four games last season passed for 1231 yards and 10 touchdowns.