Daniel High School in Central, S.C., has a proud football program with rich tradition, and it has traditionally been a talent pipeline to nearby Clemson University. Close to a dozen players from Daniel have gone on to sign with Clemson in the last decade alone, including the likes of Jarvis Jenkins, DeAndre Hopkins, DeShawn Williams and Shaq Lawson.
The latest Daniel standout and future Tiger is four-star linebacker Jake Venables, who committed to Clemson in December.
Venables is a smart and physical player like his father — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables — was when he played at Kansas State. The leader of Daniel’s defense, Jake made some big plays in his team’s rivalry game against Seneca on Friday night, including a fumble recovery and a monster sack.
“Jake’s been with the varsity team since his freshman year and he’s been nothing but an asset ever since he touched the field,” Daniel head coach Jeff Fruster told The Clemson Insider during our stop at Daniel High as part of our Tour of Champions. “Pure leadership and the ability to get the kids behind them and lead them to success. The guy does a lot of things that you just can’t put a price on, and he’s really going to be missed.”
Football and the Venables family go hand-in-hand. Not only does Jake star for Daniel, but so does his younger brother, Tyler.
The sophomore made his presence felt all game Friday as he racked up tackle after tackle from his safety position. He also showed off his athleticism with a long punt return.
“I think he’s Jake 2.0, though he wants to make his own name,” Fruster said of Tyler.
“Just a fantastic duo to be completely honest with you,” he added of the Venables brothers. “Those guys are doing some things that are just amazing, and athletically they are very gifted. Like I said, truly an asset to this team.”
Jake and Tyler aren’t the only sons of a Clemson coach on Daniel’s roster.
Drew Swinney, one of Dabo Swinney’s sons, is a senior wide receiver for the Lions. He recorded several receptions on Friday with an impressive diving catch among them.
“He’s a hard worker, I tell you what,” Fruster said. “He comes in and he straps those boots up every day. I can’t tell you of a time that I’ve ever seen him take a play off. It’s just not in his DNA. He comes to work with a hard hat on, a worker’s mentality. He competes, he wants to make himself better and he wants to make everybody else better.”
Like his father, being a leader comes natural for Drew.
“What he’s great at is being an example,” Fruster said. “He’s a great example for the ones around him. He’s a natural leader, and he’s doing his best to try to get this team behind him and get them to go as he goes.”
The fact that Fruster has three sons of Clemson coaches on his team at one time is a unique situation, and it’s allowed him to build a good relationship with Dabo and Brent.
“Those guys have always been inviting to us,” Fruster said. “They tell us to come see them. They’re always good about helping us however they see fit. We’ve had face-to-face conversations, phone conversations with those guys, and they’ve just been really supportive of this program.”