Strait Herron has a simple philosophy with South Pointe High star Derion Kendrick: Use him in any way possible.
Kendrick started at running back in ninth grade and settled into the secondary as a sophomore, but he said he transitioned to receiver to end the season. Last year, Kendrick led the Stallions at quarterback, and he saw time at linebacker in the 4A state championship game against Hartsville. He’ll start under center this season, but he’ll play receiver and defensive back on occasion.
Herron jokes that if Kendrick was a little bigger, he’d play center, too.
At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Kendrick is the top South Carolina prospect in his class and a 2018 commitment to Clemson. He’s listed as a wide receiver on his recruiting profile, but just as Herron did with cornerback Stephon Gilmore – a former South Pointe and South Carolina standout now with the New England Patriots – Kendrick’s coach doesn’t worry about positions.
“He’s a great athlete,” Herron said. “We’d be dumb not to put the ball in his hands.”
In a recent Powerade 7-on-7 Invitational at Matthews Sportsplex, Kendrick did it all, hauling in a 40-yard reception between two defenders and staring down a York defender in the end zone. He finished the game at safety.
When Kendrick was in ninth grade, Herron said he was blown away by Kendrick’s speed, body control and impeccable ball skills at receiver. But that was before he saw his arm.
“I saw him throw a ball 60 yards and I said, ‘Man, he’s got to play quarterback,’ ” Herron said.
He got his wish in 2016, when Kendrick led the Stallions to a 15-1 season and a 4A state title. In the championship game, the South Pointe star threw five touchdowns, had six carries for 42 yards and caught a 24-yard pass in a 51-28 victory.
Kendrick said he was surprised how quickly he was able to pick up the quarterback position in South Pointe’s offense. He says he has most of the playbook down from every spot and doesn’t care which position he plays. At Clemson, Kendrick hopes coach Dabo Swinney lets him play multiple positions.
“Honestly, I think he would be one of the best safeties or corners that we’ve ever had,” Herron said. “But I think that he’s got his heart set on playing receiver.”
Kendrick sees receiver as his eventual position should he make it to the NFL. His coach wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a defensive back in the pros. But at South Pointe, Herron will put his star player at whatever position he can.