2010 Intro: P.J. Clyburn

STATESVILLE, N.C. --- It's inevitable. Within every recruiting class, rivals North Carolina and NC State will battle for several key in-state recruits. For the 2010 class, P.J. Clyburn, who is fond of both schools, appears destined to be one of this year's battles.

"I like [North] Carolina and I like State a lot," Clyburn said. "It's pretty much equal between those two. I don't want to go so far away from home, but then again I will go away if I have to.

"I've always been a Carolina fan growing up. State, I like red – that's my favorite color, colors draw me in – and I love their fans – they have passionate fans."

Junior Highlights:
Of the two schools, only NC State has extended Clyburn a scholarship offer. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete from West Iredell High has also collected offers from East Carolina and Illinois. In addition to UNC, he is receiving strong interest from Clemson, Duke, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

Despite possessing two clear cut co-leaders, Clyburn isn't sure when he'll break the tie and verbally commit.

"I'll know when the right time is," Clyburn said. "I'll know when the right time is when it's time for me to do it."

Steve Hagen, who recently accepted a job with the Cleveland Browns, began recruiting Clyburn for UNC last fall. Last week, Clyburn said he communicated with another member of UNC's coaching staff.

Clyburn hopes to unofficially visit UNC this spring, but isn't certain if he'll make it to either of the upcoming junior days. He has already attended a junior day at NC State, and unofficially visited Tennessee last fall.

Primarily, Clyburn is being recruited as a safety. He is, however, also getting looks at receiver.

"It really doesn't matter to me," Clyburn said. "I just want to be on the field. Offense or defense, it doesn't matter to me."

Clyburn's high school coach, Mark Weycker, is torn himself on what position Clyburn best projects at on the collegiate level.

"I think truly he's one of those kids where you recruit him as an athlete, you get into your meetings and just battle it out," Weycker said. "Whatever side of the ball wins him will be really happy.

"I see him as being a kid that will catch the ball well, offensively. He can make things happen. But he's not that 6-2, 4.3 [forty] kid…

"Defensively, he is that prototypical kid that major college programs really love to have that can play in the secondary – at strong or free safety – that can come up and give them that eighth man in the box."

Weycker is so torn that he starts Clyburn both ways and has him handle kickoff return duties.

Clyburn began his prep career solely at wide receiver. Heading into his freshman season, he earned a starting spot on offense.

"Early on as he entered camp and going through our summer workouts, we recognized that this was an individual that possessed some unique talent," Weycker said. "In our spread offense, we look for very athletic kids – that can make things happen in space. He was able to do that very early in his career."

As a sophomore, in addition to his starting role at receiver, Clyburn began to pick up reps on defense. His defensive playing time increased as the season went along. Primarily, he came in as a nickel back.

Clyburn became a two-way starter as a junior, starting at wide receiver and safety.

"He showed that he could be a playmaker on [the defensive] side of the ball," Weycker said. "We've been pretty much a two-platoon football team. But he was the one kid that we just felt like we needed to have on the field as much as possible."

As a fulltime starter on defense, Clyburn continued to be a playmaker. On the season, he intercepted five passes and returned two for touchdowns. He also collected 78 tackles.

"We ask him to be that adjuster for us," Weycker said. "He gives us that guy when we want to play four-shell in our secondary, he's back there and he's very dangerous – people have to be aware of where he's lined up at, because you don't want to throw in his direction. But he also gives us a 6-2, 200-pound kid that can come down and be very physical where he'll smack you – he'll come up and strike you.

"He'll play that edge linebacker every once in a while. We'll ask him to spy a really good running back or quarterback. He just leans us real good versatility within our defense."

At wide receiver, Clyburn was one of several receiving options – which also included Wake Forest signee and Shrine Bowler Quan Rucker – in West Iredell's spread offense. In addition to catching 33 passes for 468 yards and three scores, Clyburn carried the ball 19 times for 166 yards and a touchdown.

"The match-ups that he creates out on the perimeter are things that we really like, because we feel like he's going to win most of them," Weycker said. "He's so big and strong. He is deceptively quick – he'll go in and split defenders and score. People better run to the football when he's got it, because one guy is not going to bring him down.

"[This past season] we wanted to make sure that offensively P.J. got a good number of touches. So we started bringing him in motion this season [and] pitching him the football in our option."

After the season, Clyburn was named to the Associated Press' All-State Team – as a returner.

"He provides us the opportunity that when he touches it, he might score," Weycker said.

Clyburn handled 12 kickoffs for 643 yards (53.6-yard average). Four of those returns went for touchdowns and another four, according to Weycker, were returned past midfield.

With the danger involved in kicking the ball to him, Clyburn had a Devin Hester-like impact on the kick return team.

"Teams didn't want to kick it to me or Quan [Rucker]," Clyburn said. "They just kicked it to the second line or pooched it or kicked it out of bounds."

P.J. Clyburn Profile


Inside Carolina Top Stories