Five years ago, an elite kicker from Concord, N.C., named Bradley Pinion signed with Clemson. Three years later in 2015, he signed a pro contract with the San Francisco 49ers worth more than $2 million after finishing seventh in school history in punting average.
Now, Clemson is looking at another punter from North Carolina that lives about an hour and a half from Pinion’s hometown and dreams of following in his footsteps to Clemson.
Forest City (East Rutherford High) sophomore Austin Roderick, the top-ranked punter in North Carolina according to MaxPreps, has visited Clemson several times.
He was most recently on campus for the Orange & White spring game this month.
“It is always fun to see great athletes perform, especially after spring practice,” Roderick told The Clemson Insider. “I had a really great time touring the new facilities. I always feel very at home every time I visit Clemson. The entire staff does an awesome job.”
Clemson assistant Dan Brooks was Roderick’s primary recruiter prior to retiring after last season. Assistant Mickey Conn has taken over as his area recruiter.
“My high school coach and I had built a great relationship with coach Dan Brooks. Since he retired we spent time with coach Conn,” Roderick said. “He said he was glad to see me at the spring game and looking forward to seeing me compete at their camp this summer.”
Last season, Roderick averaged 33.8 yards on 42 punts with a long of 56 yards and 11 punts that ended up inside the 20-yard line. After two seasons, he currently ranks second and fourth in school history in total punt yards for a single season.
He also serves as his team’s kickoff specialist and is currently third in school history in total kickoff yards and second in kickoff average.
Along with Clemson, he has visited North Carolina, Tennessee, The Citadel and UNC Charlotte.
After seeing and learning about several schools, he believes Clemson would be the best fit.
“I think I best fit Clemson’s recruiting cycle for a punter and that’s the position I can see myself playing,” he said. “My dream would be to get Bradley Pinion’s old locker.”
Pinion has long had an admirer in Roderick.
“I like Bradley’s work ethic and devotion to his craft,” Roderick said. “I also like that he is a leader on and off the field.”
Roderick’s recruitment should begin to pick up as an upperclassman next season. He’s hoping for a shot to punt at the next level and would embrace the chance to continue Pinion’s legacy in a Clemson uniform.
“It has always been my dream to play at the next level and to play for a school as great as Clemson would be a dream come true,” Roderick said. “It would mean that all those long hours of practice and in the weight room finally paid off.”