Terps Targeting Another Texas Safety

Maryland has been on the lookout for a second class of 2015 safety to pair with longtime commit Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas), and the Terps may have identified yet another possibility in Lone Star State: Rodney Clemons, a 6-foot, 190-pound converted wide receiver from James E. Taylor High (Katy, Texas).

Maryland has been on the lookout for a second class of 2015 safety to pair with longtime commit Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas), and the Terps may have identified yet another possibility in Lone Star State. Rodney Clemons, a 6-foot, 190-pound converted wide receiver from James E. Taylor High (Katy, Texas), has been generating significant recruiting interest as Signing Day nears, and most recently has been in touch with UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell.

“Maryland, they hit me up like a week ago [Jan. 5],” said Clemons, who holds offers from SMU, New Mexico and Abilene Christian. “I was sitting in class, and I saw Keenan McCardell started following me on Twitter. And I was like, ‘What? The NFL star?’ I mean, it was like really funny, because I was actually playing classic Madden -- I like the classic versions better than the newer ones -- like a week before, and I saw Keenan McCardell with the Jaguars. And then the guy starts following me on Twitter like a few days later. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s kind of cool.’ (laughs). I was surprised, and really glad it happened. I was really grateful for it.”

The interaction extended beyond the video game world and Twitterverse, much to Clemons’ delight. He called the Texas native McCardell just recently and learned the UMD staff liked his game and was considering extending a scholarship.

“We talked on the phone, and we set up an official visit for [Jan.] 23rd and Coach McCardell said he’ll be keeping in contact with me. He sounds like a really cool guy, and someone I can build a good relationship with,” Clemons said. “I’m definitely interested in the school, and hopefully I’ll get the offer when I go there. I think I will.”

Clemons admitted he doesn’t know too much about the Maryland program yet, however. He said McCardell told him “a little bit,” but the Texas safety still has to research UMD more in-depth.

“I know basically nothing at all. (laughs). But, yeah, I know like Vernon Davis and a few other NFL players came out of there,” Clemons said. “And, actually, my mom used to live in North Carolina, and I used to drive through [Maryland] from Texas, so that’s about as close as I’ve been to Maryland. But I’ve never been to the school before, so I’m looking forward to that.”

The James Taylor product is well aware the Terps compete in the Big Ten, though. That in and of itself could make Maryland an attractive destination.

“I would like to stay close to home, but the caliber of football they play in the Big Ten is definitely a big selling factor. So that kind of makes Maryland stand out, and I’ll be looking more into them,” Clemons said. “I know they need guys in the secondary, so I could probably have an opportunity to play there too.”

Although they’re both from Texas, Clemons said he does not know Cook, or Maryland’s other Lone Star State pledge, Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas).

“I did look at Maryland’s recruiting board and saw that they had two guys from Texas going there, but I don’t know them, really,” Clemons said. “I do know a few guys at Ridge Point, but I don’t know Jameel.”

Before Clemons flies out to College Park, Md., Jan. 23, he’ll venture over to nearby SMU Jan. 17. He’s also planning an official to New Mexico Jan. 30, but acknowledged that could change if another major suitor contacts him.

“SMU is the leader right now because it’s close to home and it was my first big offer,” Clemons said. “I like that it’s a new staff and they’re really trying to turn the program around. I’d kind of like the chance to turn a program around, because that’s kind of what I was just apart of in high school, and it would be kind of cool to do the same thing in college. But with New Mexico, I really don’t know too much about them. We’ll see about [UNM].”

Clemons said he plans to take all three officials before selecting his college destination shortly after that final trip.

“I’ll basically be looking at the campus, how I feel there, if they have my major -- I want to major in sports medicine or physical therapy -- and also how much they need me there,” Clemons said. “I want to go somewhere where I can have an impact, and a place where I can have a really good relationship with the coaches.”

Clemons is a late bloomer, who mentioned how he was miscast as a wide receiver earlier during his high school career. He said he never really took to the position and didn’t even earn a starting spot on varsity until he moved to safety this past fall.

The James Taylor prospect said he flourished in his new role, recording 150 tackles, five interceptions, six breakups, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown in 2014.

“All these [college] coaches started to look at me after that,” Clemons said. “Before this year, we weren’t really that good, but this year we got a new coach and he really helped us. My new coach, he knew I wanted to play in college, so he started reaching out to people and contacting some schools. And now I have some good offers and an opportunity to go to the next level. It’s a blessing, to tell you the truth.”

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