Is Devonaire Clarington good enough to warrant Heisman and NFL conversations heading into his senior year of high school? Apparently so.
Clarington is a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder from Westminster Christian Academy in Miami who oozes pro potential. The question is: Will he be All-Pro at receiver, tight end or defensive end?
Some college coaches see him staying at his current weight and playing receiver. Some see him adding 20 pounds and playing tight end. Some see him adding 30 pounds and playing defensive end.
"I have a lot of options," Clarington told InsideTennessee.
He got that right. In addition to three positional options he has a ton of college options. When IT asked how many scholarship offers he has, he estimated "35 or 40," then admitted, "I don't keep track anymore."
That's understandable. Guys with his kind of size and athleticism don't come along every day. That's why Scout has him rated the No. 7 tight end and No. 157 overall prospect in the Class of 2015. And that's why Tennessee was thrilled to get him on campus for this weekend's camp. The fact he thoroughly enjoyed himself is gravy.
"I love the campus," he said. "And the weather is great."
After a pause, he added: "I still need to go to a state where it's a little chilly, so I can get ready for the NFL. No matter where I go it's going to be snowing at some point in the NFL."
Clarington also wants to pick a college program that utilizes its tight end in multiple ways, helping prepare him for the NFL. He described Tennessee's use of the tight end as "nice."
Although he has played receiver most his life, Clarington believes he probably has outgrown that position in the eyes of many recruiters.
"They don't like receivers that are tall, really," he said. "They like receivers that are like 6-1 or 6-2 and run a 4.3 or 4.4. I'm not that dude. I'm not a freak. Well … I'm a freak but I'm not a (Tampa Bay Bucs star) Tommy Streeter that's 6-5 and runs a 4.3. I'm not that dude. I'm more of a possession receiver. I'm more of a threat at tight end because a linebacker cannot stick with me … cannot run with me."
Even without running a 4.3 in the 40, Clarington can put a defense on high alert.
"I can change a defense; that's what I've been doing my whole life," he said. "If you line me up outside and they (opponent) put two people over there, OK, throw to somebody else."
Clarington, who says the hometown Miami Hurricanes are recruiting him the hardest, plans to announce his college choice during the U.S. Army All-American game. Apparently, the Big Orange has a shot. He admits being impressed by the number of first-round draft picks Tennessee has produced and the fact 100,000 fans show up for some home games.
"Miami doesn't have that," he said. "They don't have 100,000; they probably have like 40,000. I ain't trying to talk down Miami – they produce tight ends – but I'm trying to see this season right now."
Working with both tight ends coach Mark Elder and receivers coach Zach Azzanni kept Clarington busy and entertained on Friday. He felt he bonded with both Vol assistants.
"It was a great vibe," he said. "Everything went well. I didn't feel like I didn't belong here. I felt like I fit in."
Clarington recalled his conversation with Tennessee's head coach as brief but memorable:
"He said, ‘You've got to do what you've got to do. I want you to win the Heisman … be The Man in this offense.'"
Because he always fancied himself a wide receiver, Clarington says he looked up to Randy Moss, never really following the elite tight ends. Asked if he would consider being a pass-rushing defensive end, one of the highest-paid positions in pro ball, he nodded.
"I've thought about it," he said. "If it comes down to that point where I could play D-end, I could put on some weight. I've already got my speed. It might come down to that point.
"I've got a lot of options. That's why I'm one of the top-rated kids in high school: I can play both ways. I can get down (at defensive end). I can bigger. I can do all of that."
And he can do it all well enough that "35 or 40" schools are clamoring for his services.