Dorian O’Daniel woke up Sunday morning and asked his mother if the events from Saturday night had really happened.
Yep, the Good Counsel All-Met junior linebacker really had committed to play for Clemson after being offered scholarships by 30 college football programs.
It was a whirlwind weekend for O’Daniel, who hopped in his mother’s silver Nissan Sentra at 5 a.m. Friday morning for a pair of campus visits. The first stop was Chapel Hill for a tour of North Carolina, then by 6 p.m. Dorian and his mother, Kerri, who teaches special education at Gaithersburg High, arrived in Clemson.
“I offered to split the driving with her because I just got my [driver’s] license,” O’Daniel said. “But she said no.”
O’Daniel had dinner Friday night with Clemson standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins and two other players. On Saturday, he got a tour of campus, met with academic advisors — his mother “really enjoyed that part, as you can imagine” — and watched the Tigers’ spring game with highly-touted 2013 running back prospect Derrick Green from Hermitage High outside Richmond.
After a trip back to the hotel to shower and chat with his mother about the day, the O’Daniels and Greens went to dinner with Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney and several assistant coaches.
At one point during the conversation, after talk of how a recruit commits to a college, O’Daniel looked at his mother and knew the time was right to tell the Tigers’ coaches of his intentions. Recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott nearly choked as he took a drink of water, surprised by what O’Daniel had said.
“I went outside with Coach Scott and [defensive coordinator Brent] Venables and they said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you all in?’ “ O’Daniel said. “I assured them I was.”
This was O’Daniel’s second trip to Clemson. He also attended the school’s junior day in February and also made unofficial visits to Maryland and Virginia.
“My first impression [of Clemson] wowed me and I got the same vibe the second time as I did the first time,” O’Daniel said. “It felt that was where I need to be. My personality is Clemson.”
When news broke of O’Daniel’s commitment late Saturday night, his cell phone began going off like crazy — with nearly everyone surprised he had chosen Clemson, which did not have a Washington-area player on its roster this past season. He is the third Good Counsel junior to make his college commitment; quarterback Brendan Marshall and wide receiver Andre Levrone have committed to Virginia.
“I’m the first person to come out of Good Counsel and go to Clemson, so maybe I can start a pipeline,” said O’Daniel, adding that he plans to work on All-Met wide receiver-defensive back Kendall Fuller. “It’s the ACC, so I’ll be playing against Andre Levrone. So maybe I can catch him coming across the middle or maybe sack their quarterback.”