A four-day visit to Clemson changed that. About a month after his trip to Tigertown, Kearse again changed his commitment, this time to Clemson.
The third time was the charm.
"Just because of the environment, the coaching staff, things like that, down-to-earth good people," Kearse said, earlier this week after bowl practice at Barry University, when asked about his decision to go to Clemson by a local reporter.
A four-star prospect out of South Fort Myers High School, Kearse thought he needed to put a little bit of distance between himself and the place where he hangs his hat.
"I didn't want to be too close, [so] I would [not] still be dependent on my mom. I mean, I still depend on her, but I'm far away from home. It's not too easy for her to come through in the clutch and things like that," he said. "As far as me being in Miami, she would've been able to come help me whenever I needed something."
For Friday's Orange Bowl against Ohio State, mom will be in Sun Life Stadium with about 15-20 other friends and family members.
It will cap what's been a strong freshman season for Kearse, who's record 46 tackles and three interceptions over 372 snaps in 11 games.
Not too shabby for his first full season as a defensive back.
"Always, through my Pop Warner career, I always played skill positions, like receiver, running back, quarterback and things like that," he said. "I always knew that I could still play them, so when colleges came around and started telling me the positions that I'd be best at, it really wasn't too much of a transition, other than I didn't have in-game experience like some of the other players in my recruiting class."
Kearse said there are a few other Fort Myers area that defensive backs helped prepare him for the transition, specifically Jaylen Watkins, Tre Boston, Jordan Diggs and his cousin, former NFL cornerback Phillip Buchanon.
"Those are guys that I used workout with, as far as me still being in high school and those guys teaching me technique…they all helped me out when they came back, so that kind of helped me a lot," Kearse said.
Third time was the charm
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