Virginia corner on Clemson: ‘What they have there is special’

Virginia corner on Clemson: ‘What they have there is special’


Virginia corner on Clemson: ‘What they have there is special’


In the aftermath of Brent Venables’ departure to Oklahoma, Clemson has had to quickly pick up some moving pieces on the recruiting trail. That means reaching back out to prospects that Clemson’s now former-defensive coordinator was showing the most interest in.

One of those prospects is Appomattox County (Va.) 2023 cornerback, Jonathan Pennix. After one of his high school games, Pennix saw that Venables had texted him, expressed interest in him based on his film and asked his thoughts on Clemson.

“I mean it’s Clemson, you feel me,” Pennix told The Clemson Insider. “All the best players, everybody loves Clemson.”

Venables tried to get Pennix to come out a couple of games at Memorial Stadium this past season, but as the season went on, it became increasingly more difficult for him to make a gameday visit.

“He was really the main person I talked to at Clemson,” he said of Venables, “But, my head coach told me that Coach Reed was talking to him about me. They like my film and all that stuff.”

Since Venables departed for Norman, Clemson cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Mike Reed has stepped up the team’s interest in the Virginia native. To Pennix, he’s gotten the vibe that Clemson is definitely still interested in him.

“Once he left, I figured it would’ve been done for,” Pennix said of Clemson’s potential interest in him. “But once my coach had told me that Coach Reed had reached out— he called me one day and told me — he said that Clemson was staying in check. When I saw that, I was like, ‘Yeah, alright. That’s good. They’re still with me even though [Venables] left.’”

As far as his recruitment is concerned, Pennix is keeping his options open. He’s planning on taking some visits in the spring and figuring out where he is from there. It’s always been a dream for him to commit before his senior year actually starts.

“That’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said, “but I still don’t want to rush into anything.”

Before we move into Pennix’s future, let’s take a look at how this past season went. How would he characterize his junior campaign? Was it what he wanted to put on film?

Where Pennix’s from, he was a State Champion his freshman and sophomore years. In his junior year, Appomattox County lost in the state semi-finals. 

He started his freshman season at corner and that was really the last time that he really saw a lot of action at the cornerback position, in which he recorded three interceptions. During his sophomore season, Pennix didn’t face off against a lot of teams that passed the ball with consistency, so he didn’t really get a lot of DB film.

“This year, once the playoffs started, we played some really good receivers and I really gotta put some corner film on my junior season,” he said. “I’m happy with the film that I put on this season.”

Pennix (6-0. 180) predicates his game on his instincts and his ball skills. He loves playing man-to-man and he also loves playing Cover 2. He likes tricking opposing quarterbacks to make them think receivers open when they’re not really open.

The way Clemson utilizes its cornerbacks is definitely intriguing to Pennix.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “If you go to Clemson, they definitely have the coaching staff and everything you need to prepare you for the next level. Everybody was saying they had a down year at 10 wins. That’s pretty good to have a down year and win that many games. What they have there is special. I mean, I would love to be a part of that.”

Seeing what guys like A.J. Terrell and Trayvon Mullen are doing in the NFL has opened Pennix’s eyes to what Reed is capable of.

“Coach Reed is definitely a good corners coach,” Pennix said. “A.J. Terrell is doing his ‘thang in the league. I know that he has the tools that he can get you right. I see that and I know that if I were to go there, that he would have me prepared for the next level.”

The fast-rising cornerback has picked up offers from the University of Virginia, West Virginia, Pitt and Boston College. Oh, and don’t expect his recruitment to stop there. It’s only just getting started.

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