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Columbia athlete says Clemson ‘really felt like home’

Emerging prospect Akele Pauling is drawing interest from major programs, and he was invited to unofficially visit Clemson for its season opener against Kent State on Saturday.

The class of 2019 athlete from Ben Lippen High in Columbia, S.C., thoroughly enjoyed his first game-day experience in Death Valley.

“It was great,” Pauling told TCI. “I love the culture there, the fans and coaches. It really felt like home.”

One of the highlights for Pauling was touring Clemson’s football operations facility.

“I thought it was really well built, and I was impressed with the weight room,” he said.

Pauling (5-10, 165) competed at the Dabo Swinney Camp in June and drew positive returns from the staff on his performance.

Clemson views him as a cornerback, and Saturday’s visit afforded him the chance to catch up with cornerbacks coach Mike Reed as well as recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter, his primary recruiter.

“He was glad to see me make it up to Clemson for the home opener,” Pauling said of Streeter. “He wanted to make sure that I had a good feel for what Clemson has to offer me as a student-athlete.”

“Coach Mike Reed showed me a lot of love while I was there, and he talked to me in-depth about what his defensive backs do in Clemson’s defense,” Pauling continued. “It was a real honor to me for him to show that kind of interest.”

Pauling is also being evaluated by schools such as Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, N.C. State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

What stands out the most to him about Clemson?

“The culture Clemson has,” he said. “I really want to play for a program and coaching staff like Clemson. They get the best out of you.”

Pauling transferred to Ben Lippen from Cardinal Newman over the offseason.

As a sophomore last season, he posted 48 tackles, three forced fumbles, three pass breakups and an interception as a defensive back. Offensively, he logged 690 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

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