Tyler Venables Briefly Considered Leaving Clemson to Join Father at Oklahoma
Not many players get to play under their fathers at the collegiate level.
For two seasons, Clemson safety Jake Venables was afforded that luxury, playing under his father, Brent, who had served as the Tigers‘ defensive coordinator on Dabo Swinney’s staff since 2012. However, following last season, the elder Venables was hired away as the Oklahoma Sooners’ new head coach.
In the wake of the decision, the younger Venables contemplated leaving with his father and joining the Sooners’ program. It was not something he considered for very long, though, as Venables quickly realized he was already where he was supposed to be.
“I thought about it for a little bit in December,” Venables said. “I thought that was what I wanted to do briefly, and just kind of realized that I like simplicity a lot. It’s simple. It’s easy. Clemson is an amazing place. So I was like, why would I ever want to leave something like this?”
“Even though it’s amazing to play for him for two years. It’s a great experience. Not many people get to do that… get to play for their father at the Division 1 stage. I had a great two years with him, but this was my place to stay.”
While the two discussed the decision at length, Venables said there was never any pressure, and that his father was fully on board with him remaining at Clemson.
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“He was definitely not pressuring me in any way,” Venables said. “He was just listening to what I had to say, what I thought and I kind of explained it to him, I just really like simplicity. He agreed. No need to complicate your life at this age.”
Had Venables chosen to leave it would have been completely understandable. He was born in Norman and spent much of his childhood there, with his father a part of Bob Stoops’ coaching staff from 1999-2011.
Although, spending the past eleven years living in the Clemson area, including the past two as a member of the team, has given Venables a somewhat unique perspective, and even if remaining with the Tigers meant playing for a new defensive coordinator, Venables is more than confident he made the right call.
“After I’d already committed to Clemson, I never thought I’d play for anybody else,” he said. “I was like, ‘alright I guess I’ll go play for my dad.’ And it just ended up turning out like it did. And it’s been awesome actually. Just to watch Coach Wes (Goodwin) take command, get to really understand his brain, his thinking. He’s actually really smart.”
For Venables, it all goes back to the family-like culture that the program is centered around. While his immediate family may now be in Oklahoma, that doesn’t mean there’s no family left for him at Clemson.
“All these people here, the staff, and the whole program itself is just built on being for the players, and there’s no desire for me to leave this at all.”
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.