IMG defender becomes first to decommit from Clemson in wake of Venables departure

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IMG Academy safety Keon Sabb decommitted from Clemson on Monday, making him the first Class of 2022 recruit to do so after Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ departure.

The news was first reported by Hayes Fawcett of On3Sports.

“First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the entire coaching staff at Clemson,” Sabb was quoted as saying in a graphic. “I am grateful for the time and energy you have invested in me. Over time we have developed strong relationships, which is why it weighs so heavily on my heart that I must make a decision to step back from my commitment. With the help of family and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to re-open my recruitment. I wish all the best to the Clemson program and their future.”

Venables was introduced as the University of Oklahoma’s new head football coach on Monday morning. Earlier in the day, Sabb posted a grimacing face emoji, the same icon that other Clemson defensive commitments posted in the wake of Venables’ departure.

Last week, though, Venables went to Florida to visit with Sabb and fellow IMG Academy teammates and Clemson commits Daylen Everette, a cornerback, and Jihaad Campbell, an edge player. According to reports from Anna Hickey of 247Sports, Sabb indicated that he would’ve signed with the Tigers during the early signing period had Venables stayed.

It wasn’t immediately known whether or not Campbell and Everette will decommit or stick with the Tigers.

Sabb, the No. 10 player in Florida per 247Sports, first committed to Clemson on July 17. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound four-star recruit transferred to IMG Academy prior to the 2021 season from Williamstown High School in New Jersey where he spent his junior season.

“They’re a national championship team,” he said at the time. “Swinney built a really good relationship with me. I had a really, really good time down there. We went to his house. We had a good time. Me and my family feel like home.”

During the recruiting process, Venables and Tigers safeties coach Mickey Conn laid out their plans for him. He was intrigued with what they told him.

“I got a couple of comparisons to Isiah Simmons, that they would utilize me in that type of way,” Sabb said. “They say I can cover the field pretty well, really fast. I can cover a lot of space.”

It’s believed that he’ll commit to Michigan, which was among his top final schools and where he attended a game against Ohio State on Nov. 27. He told The Athletic’s Grace Raynor that he was there to support friends and paid his own way.

While Sabb is no longer headed to Clemson, East St. Louis (Illinois) four-star cornerback Toriano Pride reaffirmed his commitment to the Tigers on Monday. He tweeted out a graphic with the caption “All In.”

“The home visit made me even more excited to get down there in January,” the graphic read, indicating Pride’s intention to sign on Dec. 15 and early enroll at Clemson. “Even with coach Venables leaving, I’m locked in.”

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