It’s no surprise Derion Kendrick is list in the No. 2 spot at the field receiver position, tied with junior Cornell Powell on Clemson’s preseason depth chart which was released a few weeks back. During the spring, the freshman from nearby South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, S.C., turned heads in the majority of the 15 practices that are allowed.
It seemed like the majority of the time, Clemson co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott were praising Kendrick’s abilities. Fellow wideout Hunter Renfrow also got in the act.
“He is incredibly fast,” Renfrow said. “He has a lot to learn, but at the same time you can tell he is going to be a great player. From my first initial look, from just looking at him, he is a lot like Ray-Ray as far as the shiftiness of him.”
McCloud of course is now playing in the NFL after being draft by the Buffalo Bills back in April. Elliott says the freshman reminds him of another former Bills player, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and was a three-time First-Team All-American at Clemson.
“DK reminds me of Sammy (Watkins) — 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.”
Besides playing the field position at wide receiver, Kendrick is also working at punt returns, where he has seen time back there with Renfrow and Amari Rodgers, the starter at the field position. Kendrick also worked some at the slot position in the spring, where Renfrow is the starter.
Hearing Elliott compare the freshman to Watkins, however, was the biggest eye-opener of the spring so far. Watkins, hauled in 240 catches his three-year career at Clemson for 3,391 yards and a school-record 27 touchdown receptions.
Watkins finished his career as Clemson’s first three-time First-Team All-American and was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“Just his explosiveness … When he comes off the line, there are some guys you just know it,” Elliott said. “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.”
One thing Renfrow has already noticed about Kendrick, which is very similar to Watkins as well, is his attitude.
“The good thing too is that he is coachable and he had a good attitude, too,” Renfrow said.