Competitiveness is a common theme in the Venables household, and it extends beyond just the gridiron.
“It’s a very competitive family — whether it’s girls softball or girls basketball, or we’re out there on the tube or out playing some pickup basketball or in the pool having a flip and dive competition,” said Brent Venables, a father of four who has two sons and two daughters. “It’s a lot of fun, and again, just blessed beyond what I certainly deserve.”
Venables feels blessed to be able to coach one of his sons, redshirt freshman linebacker Jake Venables, at Clemson.
The Tigers’ defensive coordinator will feel even more blessed next year when his youngest son, Tyler Venables, joins the Clemson football program as well.
“I’m thrilled to say the least, and thankful and appreciative of a very unique opportunity,” Brent told The Clemson Insider recently. “And what I love about both boys – they’ve earned their way.”
Tyler, a senior at Daniel High School, is likewise thankful for the opportunity to play for his father at the highest level of college football.
“It’s amazing, because not many recruits get to do that,” he said. “Very few people get to do that, and I’m one of them. So, I’m just very grateful.”
Tyler, who committed to Clemson this past June, was recently named one of seven finalists for this year’s South Carolina Mr. Football award. He plays on both sides of the ball for Daniel but primarily serves as the team’s quarterback – a position he has excelled at, throwing for 2,242 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions though eight games to this point in the season.
However, Tyler will focus exclusively on defense at the next level and be a strong safety for the Tigers.
“Tyler’s got a chance to come in at a position we’re losing a lot of guys,” Brent said. “He plays quarterback on his team. He’s a really good athlete and he’s got good instincts and good athletic ability. Many of the traits that he has on offense and that position will certainly translate to being a safety. He started as a safety as a freshman there and then played there a little bit until they moved him his sophomore year to quarterback.
“So, he’s still played some defense, but not near what he would like to. And then he’s going to really improve when he gets here from a fundamental (standpoint), from an alignment, from an understanding, because it’s been so long since he’s taken day to day repetitions in the secondary. But he’s having a great year, it’s been fun to watch, and for me, it can’t get here soon enough.”
As you would expect, Tyler has learned a lot about football from his dad, developing a high IQ for the sport over the years. And much like Brent, Tyler is very passionate about the game.
“The kid lives and breathes football,” Daniel head coach Jeff Fruster said. “I’m sure it’s something that he’s absolutely known from an early age, and for his father to be who he is and just the level of defense that he can bring to the college game … He’s got that wealth of knowledge 24/7, so obviously we expect him to know an abundance of the game, and he does and I’m sure that’s an incredible situation to belong to. But Tyler, he sees the game so much slower than everybody else.”
Tyler takes full advantage of the resource he has in his father and remains hungry to improve his game. Late-night film sessions are a common occurrence in the Venables household.
“He wanted to watch some opponent film last night,” Brent said recently. “So, we brought out the notepad and just tried to look for certain things. Doing this for a living, there’s certain things that you can try to share with him that might help him and things of that nature.”
It won’t be long before Tyler arrives on Clemson’s campus to start the next chapter of his life. But until then, Brent is doing his best to make sure his son appreciates the time he has left in high school and with his teammates at Daniel.
“I’m trying to overemphasize to him, you’ve got to enjoy every second of both the good and the suck there in high school with your teammates,” Brent said. “Because your friends in high school, it’s just different. That connection and those friendships will last a lifetime. I think too often in society today, everybody is in such a hurry to get to the next thing. To me – we, as a family – we’ve been trying to intentionally slow it down and just emphasize to him to do your best. You don’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be state (championship) or bust. Don’t think that way — just do your best and enjoy every day, and then you can live with the results.”
Family is an integral part of the Clemson football program’s culture, and that is especially the case for Brent, who is excited to watch Tyler continue to grow and prosper with the Tigers.
“There’s an innocence about high school football that you’re never going to be able to replicate,” Brent said, “although that is one thing I love about Clemson because I do think that Coach Swinney, as a leader of this program, really makes it like family and a brotherhood and a tremendous chemistry and camaraderie and lets our guys have fun and enjoy all the fruits of their labor.”
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