Commentary

Peter Kalambayi drawn to Clemson

Rising junior outside linebacker with a soccer background has the Tigers out in front

Updated: August 5, 2011, 5:07 PM ET
By Dave Hooker | ESPN Recruiting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Peter Kalambayi walked off the practice field with a cut on his right eye. First day of full pads. No complaints.

"We started hitting today so practice really started today," Kalambayi said when asked about the injury. "It was a good collision."

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound outside linebacker from Matthews (N.C.) Butler expects many more of those this season since he'll be Butler's primary outside rusher in its 3-4 defense.

[+] EnlargePeter Kalambayi
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comPeter Kalambayi already has offers from Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Tennessee and Florida.

The defensive philosophy is a perfect fit for Kalambayi, who said he'd like to continue playing the same 3-4 position in college.

"I really like blitzing from the outside," the rising junior said. "I'm pretty quick off the edge but I'm still strong enough to fight off the offensive tackle. I can use bull rush or speed rush. I don't really have a preference."

Kalambayi said he's trying not to think about recruiting too much and if he does his job on the high school level, college recruiters will take notice. Actually, they already have.

He already has scholarship offers from Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Tennessee and Florida.

Admittedly, Clemson is the early leader.

"Yeah, they are," Kalambayi said. "I like them a lot."

Kalambayi said he has already visited Clemson three times and based off his comments, it's obvious he is drawn to the school.

"It's just their tradition down there. You can tell their coaches know what they're doing. When you go up there they make you feel like you're at home. That's probably why they get all those recruits," said Kalambayi, who has also visited Virginia Tech and is working on a trip to Florida.

All the attention is a little odd for Kalambayi's family, who is originally from Trinidad. They grew up on soccer, not football. Kalambayi is the first member of his family born in the United States.

"It's kind of new to them," said Kalambayi, who has a tattoo of the Trinidad flag on his chest. "They get kind of scared because they're used to soccer. But they like it. They like what it's doing for me. They want me to go to college."

That could happen with or without football, according to his coach, Brian Hales.

"He's the example," said Hales, almost sounding if he was coining a nickname. "You could take any kid in school and say this is how you do it, whether it's academically, athletically, socially. You don't worry about him. We talk to these students about every day you come to school (and if you don't do well) you're closing doors. Peter hasn't closed a door yet. If he wanted to go to Stanford and not play football, he probably wouldn't have to pay any money."

Hales said despite Kalambayi's 4.2 grade point average and status as a college football prospect, the 2013 recruit doesn't take it for granted.

"He knows he's been blessed," Hales said. "He knows he's been touched and God has given him some special abilities. But he just doesn't say 'I'm great.' He works and works and works."

The ties to Trinidad still benefit Kalambayi. He grew up playing soccer and is still apt to play from time to time. Hales said that has surely helped Kalambayi with his footwork and body control.

"I think it's great for any athlete," he said. "One of the great post players in NBA history was Hakeem Olajuwon. He grew up playing soccer."

True. But when Kalambayi is all grown up, he'll be a football player.

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation