Derion Kendrick was supposed to be the anchor on the backend of the Clemson defense in 2021, but instead will apparently play his final collegiate season in Athens as a Georgia Bulldog.
The former 5-star recruit from Rock Hill was dismissed from the Clemson team by head coach Dabo Swinney before the start of spring practice. What led to that dismissal has been the subject of much speculation inside the fan base over the past couple of months.
Now Kendrick himself has shed some light on the situation as he was recently a guest on the podcast On Campus with JB & Sciggy.
“Family is going to come before anything,” Kendrick said. “My son had some problems going on, so I was with him. I wasn’t really at school. It was during spring time, so I had a lot going on then. I was with him, wasn’t really doing work, couldn’t really do work, because I was always in the hospital. I was going to the hospital back and forth.”
Kendrick attributed much of the problem to his failure to keep the team fully informed in what was going on in his life.
“On my part, I didn’t have too much communication,” Kendrick said. “I was just like, ‘I’ve got to be there,’ so that’s where there was a little misunderstanding.”
Kendrick spent his first season at Clemson playing wideout before moving to corner in the spring of 2019 due to a rash of injuries leaving the Tigers extremely short on bodies at cornerback. He was such a natural playing the position the move quickly became permanent.
After showing a ton of promise in 2019 and earning All-ACC honors, Kendrick had a very inconsistent 2020 season. He spent plenty of time in what Swinney referred to as his “love shack” and missed multiple games reportedly for disciplinary reasons.
Despite the up-and-down junior season, some still expected the junior the enter the NFL Draft. There were multiple mocks that had the embattled player going as high as late in the first round.
However, Kendrick decided to return to school. While many assumed it was a decision made to help his draft stock, Kendrick said there was far more in play, including getting his degree.
“The reason I came back to school was to finish, graduate, get my degree and then do whatever I wanted to do after that,” Kendrick said. “It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh, go get the money right now.'”
The fact that Kendrick is the father of two small children is what drove that desire to get his degree.
“It’s not just about football,” Kendrick said. “I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so that’s what I’m really doing this for. And I’ve got a family that’s behind me 100 percent.”
While his career in Clemson might be over, Kendrick said he will always be grateful to Swinney and the rest of the Clemson coaching staff.
“I give highly thanks to Dabo for just believing in me while I was there,” Kendrick said. “Always being on me, trying to get me better, to do better at everything, even if it was on the field, off the field. And everybody around me just pulling for me, even if I was down, just pulling for me. You’ve gotta play with people like that. You’ve gotta play for people like that. That’s why I played with so much passion. I played with so much passion in the game because I wanted to play for them.”