Brent Venables said he was not going to lie. He was surprised when Shaq Smith told him was going to transfer from Clemson.
Smith, though he still had some work to do get where Venables wanted him to be, had made big strides in the spring and put himself in position to start this coming fall for the defending national champions.
“I really thought Shaq was making steady improvement,” Clemson’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach said Tuesday during Clemson’s 2019 Media Outing at the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson. “He wasn’t where he eventually would have been had he played and stuck around.
“I’m not going to lie. I was surprised.”
Though he was surprised, Venables said he understood the situation better when Smith explained his reasoning for leaving. Smith, who graduated in May from Clemson, left Clemson for Maryland, where he will have two years left to play.
“Listening to Shaq explain the situation and what he wanted for his future, he was not playing with the consistency or the confidence that he really wanted to and thought maybe a fresh start would help him.”
Venables said they have since kind of moved on and are trying to get the other guys ready to play.
“You just kind of move on,” Venables said. “We did not lose a lot of experience there. Although, when you are investing in any player for a couple of years, and you have a program that has been able to sustain at a high level consistently, that is one of the secret ingredients is just the development and things that are going on behind the scenes, so that when you lose players you have guys that are third and fourth and sometimes fifth-year players that come out of nowhere and play at a really high level because they know what to do and they are confident and things of that nature.
“Again, I wish Shaq the best. He gave us great leadership here. He is just a great young guy that really made a tremendous investment every day and really bought in completely and totally, and was very supportive of guys playing in front of him. I’m sure that was entirely frustrating at times, but I wish him nothing but the best.”