It’s fair to say that Derion Kendrick’s college football career has been a rollercoaster.
A highly-rated offensive player in high school, who spent time at both quarterback and wide receiver, Kendrick was one of the top players in the 2018 recruiting class. He committed to the Clemson Tigers in 2018 to play WR, turning down offers from SEC powerhouses such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Georgia.
Derion Kendrick’s unorthodox Clemson career
Kendrick saw the field occasionally as a freshman, finishing his first season with 15 receptions for 240 receiving yards and 41 rushing yards. While there was optimism that he’d push on and earn more playing time at wide receiver, his career would take one of its first big twists in spring practice. With defensive coordinator Brent Venables struggling to find warm bodies to play cornerback, Kendrick was drafted in as a placeholder.
It quickly became apparent that he belonged. Kendrick excelled in drills and his potential caught the eye of the coaching staff. With Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, and Amari Rodgers all likely to attract more attention from Trevor Lawrence, Kendrick leapt at the chance to see the field more and the transition to cornerback became permanent.
It didn’t take Kendrick long to get up to speed. He earned a starting job right away and finished his sophomore season with 51 tackles, six pass breakups, two interceptions, and a touchdown. While the team lost to LSU and an all-star offensive cast including future first overall pick Joe Burrow and first-rounders Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, it was a taste of the spotlight for Kendrick. He was honored with a Second-team All-ACC selection.