Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick prioritizes academics in return to college football

Arik Gilbert-Derion Kendrick-Georgia football
Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick (1) tracks Notre Dame wide receiver Javon McKinley (88) during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Derion Kendrick loves football, but the former All-ACC cornerback from Clemson and potential Georgia transfer said there’s more to his determination to return to campus than packing stadiums on Saturday afternoons.

“The reason I’m (coming) back to school is to graduate,” Kendrick said in a recent podcast, asked what he would want NFL teams to know about his desire to continue playing college football. “(It’s) to get my degree and do what I want to do after that.

“That’s what I want to do first. Make sure they know it’s not just about football.”

The Georgia football players taking part in voluntary offseason conditioning report back to Athens on Tuesday.

There’s optimism Kendrick might also be on the UGA campus by then. The players start summer classes on June 11.

RELATED: Georgia position to add talented former Clemson cornerback

There’s been no official announcement or public confirmation of Kendrick’s plans at the time of this publication.

Kendrick was dismissed from the Tigers’ program by Dabo Swinney at the end of February before spring drills. In March, he was charged with the misdemeanor crime of “unlawful carrying of a handgun” after officers found him asleep in a vehicle with a gun in his lap.

Kendrick indicated his dismissal was related to him not communicating his whereabouts while tending to issues with one of his two children, who was in the hospital at the time.

Swinney made it clear at the start of spring he has no ill-will toward his former player.

WATCH: Dabo Swinney talks Clemson at start of spring drills

“I want to say that I love DK,” Swinney said. “He is a young man that I have always loved as a football player. He has a good heart. He has a really good heart.

“He has never been a disrespectful young man or anything like that, just sometimes there just needs to be a change.”

Kendrick, likewise, had only good things to say about Clemson and Swinney on the podcast.

“I give thanks to Dabo for believing in me while I was there, and always being on me trying to get me better, on the field and off the field, and everyone around me pulling for me,” Kendrick said in the podcast.

“You have to play for people like that. That’s why I played with so much passion in the game, because I want to play for them. If they are there for me, I play for them.”

Kendrick was recruited to Clemson as a wide receiver and played there his freshman season before moving to cornerback.

Kendrick indicated he is ready for more work to get better in the secondary.

RELATED: Adams podcast, Derion Kendrick says may hear something soon

“I’ve only been there two years,” Kendrick said. “This is my third year (at cornerback), so I feel I’ve got to get better.”

Kendrick also revealed he had a minor knee injury last season, though it wasn’t serious enough to sideline him for the College Football Playoff game with Ohio State.

Kendrick, who is from Rock Hill, S.C., started in eight of the nine games he played for the Tigers last season. Kendrick led the Tigers with six PBUs and returned a fumble 66 yards in a win over Virginia Tech.

Georgia’s cornerback situation has been well-documented, with the Bulldogs losing first- and second-round 2021 NFL Draft picks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, along with Jacksonville free-agent DJ Daniel.

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