On July 30, 2008, Jaren Kanak lost his father.
Jason Kanak, 31 at the time, died in an automobile accident. Jaren was just a toddler at the time. Thirteen years later, he’s the No. 1 player in Kansas and a Clemson Tigers commitment, announcing his college decision Friday.
“I wanted to honor him and take a day that was once full of tragedy and pain, and make a dream come true on the very same day 13 years later,” Jaren wrote in the social media post. “God works in mysterious ways and I cannot express how thankful I am for the position I am in today.”
With the latest commitment, Clemson has moved up to No. 8 in the 247Sports Composite recruiting standings, overtaking Florida State for the best group in the ACC.
Jaren Kanak, also one of the top athletes in the Class of 2022, had chose the Tigers over scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Baylor and Georgia, among others, for a total of 34. He’s the second top-ranked recruit to commit to Clemson this week after Jeadyn Lukus, the No. 1 player in South Carolina, committed to the Tigers on Wednesday. That makes 12 total recruits for the class and seventh pickup for defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
The two share a commonality in being Kansas natives.
“He grew up in Salina, or lived in Salina for awhile, and has those Kansas ties, which is cool,” Kanak said to Phil Kornblut about Venables in May. “And he mentioned Isaiah Simmons. Everybody in Kansas knows who that guy is and looks up to him. So I know quite a bit about him.”
While Kanak was recruited as a defensive player, likely to be an outside linebacker in college, he’s had his fair share of success on the offensive side of the ball, as well. During the fall, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete played wide receiver and running back for the Indians, making the All-Western Athletic Conference offensive first team.
“Ball skills he shows on offense should translate to defense where he should be a strong coverage backer if that is indeed where he ends up playing,” 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said of Kanak. “Times his blitzes well, and when combined with his quickness, that allows him to penetrate and make plays in the backfield. … In general, there are few glaring weaknesses here, just a need to concentrate on one position and learn to play that spot. We assume he will easily add the weight needed to play linebacker but guys with his track speed and offensive background tend to be very successful in making that transition.”
Living up to his label as an athlete, he also competed in track and field this past spring for the first time since his seventh grade season. The speedster timed a 10.37-second 100-meter dash on May 13, which is believed to be the fastest-ever time in the history of the event in Kansas.
Kanak ended the year by placing in the top five in the open 100, 200, long jump and 4x100 relay at the state track and field meet in May.