College Sports

This Clemson defender was a potential starter in 2019. He’s in transfer portal

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney breaks down 2019 recruiting class

Tigers added two scholarship prospects Wednesday
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Tigers added two scholarship prospects Wednesday

Clemson linebacker Shaq Smith appeared set to have a breakout year in 2019 after contributing mostly on special teams his first three years with the Tigers.

If Smith does in fact finally reach his potential this upcoming season, it will likely be another team that will benefit.

Smith has entered the transfer portal, Clemson confirmed. The Baltimore, Maryland native graduated earlier this month and will be eligible to play immediately.

247Sports and The Clemson Insider reported the news first on Wednesday.

Smith does have the option to return to Clemson, but Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said during a Prowl and Growl event earlier this month that when a player enters the transfer portal he does not expect them back.

“I mean, I think when you enter the transfer portal it says you’re leaving. That’s what it says to me,” Swinney said. “That’s how I look at it.”

Smith was rated as a four-star linebacker by the 247Sports Composite rankings coming out of IMG Academy, and was rated as a five-star recruit and a top 10 overall player in the country by Rivals.

He redshirted in 2016, before appearing in 13 games in 2017. Last season Smith appeared in all 15 games and recorded 16 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss while helping Clemson win its second national title in three years.

Smith was praised for his play and his leadership this spring and was in position to move into a starting role this fall.

“Shaq’s an unbelievable leader. Shaq’s one of the most respected guys on this team,” Swinney said this spring. “He’s unbelievable. Even though he hasn’t played as much, he’s one of the best leaders we’ve had. Incredibly committed guy on and off the field. Great student. He’s amazing.”

In addition to Smith, former Tigers running back Tavien Feaster entered the transfer portal earlier this spring. Feaster is considering several schools, including South Carolina.