With Clemson’s spring practice beginning this week, a lot of attention has been on the Tigers’ freshmen early enrollees that are getting their first taste of college football. With the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry in the same recruiting class, you are bound to hear the hype, but one newcomer has stood out in particular to co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott — wide receiver Derion Kendrick.
A consensus top-75 national recruit from South Pointe High School (Rock Hill, S.C.), Kendrick has a good opportunity to make an impact early in his Clemson career. With starting receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud entering the NFL draft, Kendrick has a chance to stand out in the deep pool of receivers the Tigers boast.
Talking about Kendrick after Clemson’s practice on Friday, Elliott compared him to former Clemson receiver great Sammy Watkins.
“DK reminds me of Sammy — it’s just a different gear,” Elliott said. “When he moves and takes off the line, he just moves at a different speed. … DK is a guy early on, coming right out of the gate, that is really pushing these guys athletically.”
As a Clemson Tiger, Watkins caught the ball 240 times for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career. To go along with the stats, Watkins was also a three-time, first-team All-American, giving Kendrick a lofty comparison to live up to.
“Just his explosiveness… When he comes off the line, there’s some guys you just know it,” Elliott said of Kendrick. “Some guys just have some different attributes, and that’s the thing that you see with Derion. It’s easy for him to run, he’s very explosive.
“As we get deeper into spring ball and have more installation, we’ll see if he’s able to maintain that explosiveness and that speed and playing fast.”
Tiger fans will have to wait a while to see Kendrick on the field, but it will be exciting to see when the time comes if he is a Watkins in the making.