Injuries to Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael put Clemson in a bind during spring practice and resulted in an unexpected breakthrough at corner.
“At first, I thought Coach [Dabo] Swinney was teasing when he put [Derion Kendrick] over [at corner],” said Mike Reed, Clemson’s cornerbacks coach, Tuesday at the Clemson Media Outing.
After the dust settled from the spring, the sophomore Kendrick, who came to Clemson as a wide receiver, is listed as a starting corner. The coaching staff has been more than impressed with his ability as an athlete and how easily he not only converted but excelled on the defensive side of the ball.
Reed really enjoyed coaching Kendrick in the fall and is excited to see how it carries over into fall camp and ultimately the 2019 season.
“It was great to work with him. He is a great competitor and loves the game,” Reed said. “You can tell he practices and plays hard. I look forward to big things from him in the fall.”
Kendrick played a variety of positions in high school before coming to Clemson last season. He saw time at quarterback, running back, safety, corner and wide receiver, and his athleticism made him a natural fit when Swinney called him over to the defensive side of the ball in the spring.
Reed thinks his ability to be coachable is the factor that made his transition to the other side of the ball so seamless.
“That skillset and mindset allows you to point out his weaknesses and his diligence turns those into strengths,” Reed said.
In fact, Reed thinks Kendrick would make an impact no matter what position the Tigers decided to try him out at.
“He is dedicated to everything that he does and the fact he is a competitor allows him to succeed no matter what position you put him at,” Reed said. “If you put DK at center he will compete and be a good player.”