Brent Venables received a birthday present that every father dreams about last year in December when his son, Jake, committed to the Tigers. Fittingly, Jake Venables will play Linebacker at Clemson; the same position that his father coaches. Venables plays downhill, and attacks the ball like you’d expect from someone whose father is the most intense defensive coordinator in college football.
What Linebacker position he will play in is still a mystery, however. The MIKE and WILL positions are the most obvious choices for the current scheme, and Venables could effectively play both. Sometimes lining up at Defensive End for his high school, Jake has proven he has the pass rushing chops to play the WILL position at the next level. At the same time, he is currently around 225-235 pounds, meaning he has, or will have the size to play the MIKE position.
Don’t let Venables’ heritage make you think that was the only reason for his offer, Jake can seriously play. 24/7 Sports has him rated as a low 4-star with a .8822 rating, while most of the industry tends to think he is a star-rating lower. He is not as athletic as top LB prospects, and probably won’t excel in coverage, but he’s reads the game well and fearlessly attacks downhill.
Clemson is getting an extremely driven player. This is one prospect that hits the practice field, and the weight room HARD. Ultimately, Venables is a very solid player, and continues the trend of Clemson taking Linebackers who can play multiple positions in its scheme. Jake Venables will be enrolling early.
Don’t let the Shrine Bowl diminish your perception of Jake Venables. Is he a developmental prospect? Yes, of course. But he has value and talent.
Venables isn’t likely to stick at SAM and will move inside and play WILL or MIKE. He will likely add some more pounds and needs time to adjust to his new body. He has already seen a major physical maturation in just a year, and that is part of why he might have looked too slow to some at the Shrine Bowl. He definitely needs to continue to improve his foot speed, but in Papa Venables system he needs to maintain his speed. The one area you want to see improvement on is missed tackles. That is the only thing about the Shrine Bowl that you should take note of, he needs to finish tackles, but he has generally done that throughout his career at Daniel HS.
Jake Venables is first and foremost a worker. He is also a coaches son and knowledgeable about the position. That won’t be an issue. That provides real value by itself. He has good height and a decent wingspan. He was appropriately ranked as a high 3* player. I see him following the path of a Chad Smith. He will redshirt and then play situationally and predominantly on special teams. He could crack the two deep towards the end of his career and provide solid depth with a chance to mature into a physical, thumping/attacking linebacker.