Most of UNC's 2011 recruiting class enrolled in the second summer semester. However, Clyburn, a 6-foot-1, 202-pounder from Statesville (N.C.) West Iredell, didn't qualify through the NCAA Clearinghouse in time to join them.
"When I didn't get to come [for the second summer semester], it was crushing," Clyburn said. "But I just thought in my head it's a minor setback for a major comeback. So when I get up there, I'm going to have a chip on my shoulder."
Clyburn, who solely played safety and wide receiver in high school, will begin his collegiate career at linebacker.
"[Linebacker] will be something new, but fun," Clyburn said. "At first I was like ‘Oh, man, linebacker.' But then I thought about it and figured it'd be a good fit, considering I'm fast, big, strong, [and] physical."
Art Kaufman, UNC's linebackers coach, has mentioned several times to Clyburn that neither Bruce Carter nor Quan Sturdivant played linebacker until college. Both starred at quarterback and safety in high school, but are projected to be high NFL draft picks as linebackers.
"I know I can adapt to it," Clyburn said. "I'm just going to have to put weight on my frame."
Clyburn says that Kaufman hasn't mentioned the idea of red-shirting him. In addition to earning reps at linebacker, Clyburn will receive a chance to contribute on special teams. "Coach ‘Mo' [Allen Mogridge] said they're going to give me a chance at returning kickoffs," Clyburn said. "They're going to try me out there… I may not be the fastest one on the team, but I know I'm capable of doing it."
Following a junior season in which he returned four kickoffs for touchdowns, Clyburn was named All-State at returner by the Associated Press. During his senior season, despite most opponents kicking away from him, Clyburn returned four punts and three kickoffs to pay dirt.
In preparation for his freshman year of college, Clyburn has focused on staying in shape by running.
Clyburn will be making the transition to UNC with teammate Jordan Darty, who he is so close with that he basically considers him a brother. Darity, a defensive back, was informed last week that UNC had a preferred walk-on spot available for him.
"That was just a big blessing for both of us," Clyburn said. "… I know college isn't going to be easy – everybody needs help. He's real smart in school, so just having Jordan by my side if I need some help, he can support me."