The Tigers have recruited Clarington for almost a year, offering him last December. That offer was originally as a tight end, but as the Tigers’ needs changed and they evaluated Clarington more thoroughly, they decided he could be an elite pass rusher on the next level.
“They noticed that I’m an athlete,” Clarington said. “I can play both ways with the ball. People say I show my aggression and toughness on defense, which I do. I’ve got a different mentality on offense, a different mentality on defense. When I’m on defense, I’m going to get whoever out of my way to get the ball, making plays for my team. I’ll sacrifice my body, do whatever it takes.”
His coaches at Booker T. Washington also recognized his defensive talent. He plays strictly defensive end for his high school team, though he does miss getting to catch passes.
LSU is the only school seriously recruiting Clarington for defense. Most schools still see him as a tight end, but Clarington thinks he can be a two-way player.
“That’s history there,” Clarington said. “With a lot of hard work and determination, that’s history. That is something I would look forward to do…I think [LSU’s] recruiting me for both. It’ll come down to my decision on which one I want to play…
“But I don’t know because my heart’s telling me offense.”
Clarington currently measures 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. He expects to weigh closer to 250 by the time he’s in college.
He’s kept a close eye on LSU ever since they offered him, and they’re one of several schools in contention for his recruitment.
“They impressed me last year with the running and throwing game,” Clarington said. “I’ve seen their tight ends, they’ve got a lot of players. And their defensive line, I’ve got a former teammate that plays for them. So if I come up on a visit, I can chill with him.”
That former teammate is Travonte Valentine, a member of LSU’s 2014 signing class. Those two attended Champagnat Catholic last spring, but Clarington has since transferred. He’s actually attended four different schools since his junior season.
That could be a red flag to some colleges, and LSU will certainly keep a close eye on his academics.
Clarington also thinks that some schools are hesitant to recruit him because they think he’s a lock to Miami.
“I’m not stuck on Miami right now,” Clarington said. “I go to Miami often because it’s right there down the street. But I don’t like people saying I’m going to Miami. But it is what it is. I’m just handling my recruitment differently.”
In addition to LSU, Clarington hears from USC, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee among others. He’s hoping to start locking down some official visits to get out and experience places outside of Miami.
“I want to get in touch with other schools, but it’s so hard because everybody thinks I’m dedicated to this one college,” Clarington said. “People think they don’t have a chance. But I’m very, very open. I have to make the calls to get their attention.”
Below are some highlights of Clarington playing defensive end this season.