CLEMSON — Jake Venables is leaving the nest.
Venables, a Clemson linebacker and son of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, will forgo two years of eligibility and not return to the Tigers.
“Mentally, he’s in a great place,” Brent said. “He’s in a lot better place than I was when I heard the news.”
Jake, who has been devastated by injuries since the end of last year, will play his final regular-season game for the Tigers (8-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) against South Carolina (6-5) at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
Venables redshirted as a freshman in 2018 and became a key backup, occasional starter, behind James Skalski at middle linebacker for the next two years with 14.5 tackles for loss. He missed last postseason — the ACC championship game and College Football Playoff semifinal — because of a broken arm and has barely seen action since.
Division I athletes were granted an additional year of eligibility for last year because of COVID concerns, but Jake won’t take the NCAA up on its offer. When it comes to hamstring injuries for a career, eight is enough.
“He wants to go to grad school. He’s got internships all set up,” Brent Venables said. “So he’s got a good plan in place and a lot of peace about it.
“I’m proud of him. He’s been a very committed guy. He’s been as consistent as anybody we’ve had as far as his mindset and his work ethic. He’s been a great teammate and easy to coach. I’m proud of him for what he’s been able to accomplish. He won a national championship (in 2018) and conference championships (four). He started some games, got some valuable playing time and made friendships for a lifetime. He created a lot of opportunity for himself through his hard work.”
Jake has been on the field for only 21 snaps this season, 14 in the past two games with a half-sack against Connecticut.
“He’s just trying to get to the finish line,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “Really, this is like the first time he’s been healthy all year. … I think he’s ready to move on to the next stage. His body is just not holding up.”
Jake’s younger brother, Tyler, is a sophomore safety. They were both standouts at Daniel High School.
Tight end Jaelyn Lay and offensive lineman Tayquon Johnson, both third-year sophomores, and junior defensive lineman Darnell Jefferies also will move on after graduating next month.
Junior defensive end K.J. Henry was honored on Senior Day last week in Clemson’s final home game because he will be weighing his NFL options.
“He hasn’t indicated to me that he’s made a final decision, so we’ll see,” Swinney said. “I think he’s just trying to see what his evaluation is from the NFL guys. He will graduate in December. He’s definitely a guy who has a chance to play at the next level, and I think he just wants to see what he’s projected as (in the draft).”
Senior place-kicker B.T. Potter said he is considering a return for a COVID redshirt senior season.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Jake Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator’s son, won’t use redshirt