As had been expected for sometime Georgia today officially became the transfer a destination for former Clemson quarterback Darien Kendrick. Kendrick, a former five star recruit, saw significant playing time in 2018 at wide receiver for the Tigers. However, emergency circumstances required him to shift to defense in 2019 and he responded by starting for two seasons, including playing a role in the 2019 National Championship Game.
At 6’0, 190 pounds, Kendrick has the size Kirby Smart is looking for in a corner. His 2018 receiving stats (15 receptions for 210 yards) hint at ball skills which he’s also shown on defense. Kendrick was a second team All-ACC selection in 2019 and a first team all-conference honoree in 2020. In total he’s played 39 games of major college football and should provide an immediate veteran presence in the inexperienced UGA secondary.
“Is there a catch?” you ask? Well, maybe. But also maybe not.
Kendrick was dismissed from the Tiger football team in February for what were termed repeated violations of team rules. Prior to that he’d been suspended for all or part of a handful of games in the 2020 season, before returning to the lineup. After he announced he’d be entering the transfer portal Kendrick was arrested in March in his home town of Rock Hill after he was found asleep in a car with a 9mm pistol in his lap. He also received a misdemeanor marijuana charge as a result of that incident.
As the Senator already pointed out, Kendrick’s situation has some nuance to it. Some accounts I’ve heard have said that Georgia was always his likely destination, so long as his legal situation could be cleared up. This announcement makes it sound like that’s probably occurred.
It’s also worth noting that Kirby Smart is not a coach with a reputation for taking risks in player personnel matters. Witness the swift dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman, Georgia’s top returning receiver at the time as a result of an incident to which he immediately admitted when confronted. Smart has earned the benefit of the doubt from me when it comes to picking who gets a second chance.
It’s also worth noting that prior to his dismissal from Clemson Kendrick was viewed as a potential first day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It was truly surprising that he came back for his senior year before. Now he’s in a position to show NFL teams that he can play a complete, productive season of high level football and put his recent problems behind him. I expect Kendrick has been sold on this as a one shot deal to make himself a hot NFL quantity, for his future and the future of his family. Kirby Smart has motivated less talented players with less compelling narratives.
If he doesn’t get with the program Georgia still isn’t in terrible shape at corner. If he can play up to the potential he flashed at Clemson he could easily be one of the top two or three cover corners in the conference and provide the missing piece on a Bulldog defense that is already pretty stacked.
Either way, this was a no-brainer pickup for Georgia. Until later...