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Clyburn's versatile for Vols

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Talented AJ High senior contributes in several ways

By Robert Howey

 

   

KERSHAW – Andrew Jackson High School head football coach David Moore describes talented Volunteers’ senior player Gavin Clyburn as having a “good upside.”

AJ secondary coach Alex Fair adds, “Clyburn’s a player.”

Whatever the opinion, Clyburn, who has  missed a game this season with a leg injury, contributes in many ways for Vols.

A starter in the AJ secondary at cornerback, Clyburn has 28 tackles, two fumble recoveries and three tackles for loss.

On the other side of the ball on offense, Clyburn has six catches for 117 yards at receiver and 214 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns as a running back.

He also returns kicks, with five kickoff returns for 134 yards and four punt returns for 74 yards.

“He’s shown flashes,” Moore said. “Gavin makes things happen.”

That should come as no surprise. His father is the late Danny Clyburn, a former Lancaster High School star athlete who was a solid linebacker for the Bruins and talented, power-hitting outfielder in baseball.

Danny Clyburn tapped into his baseball skills and made it to  the majors where he played for the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.

His life was cut short last winter when he was shot and killed in Lancaster.

“That motivated me,” said Clyburn, who has hopes of playing at the next level. “That made me want to do well.

“He was supportive of me and believed in me,” Clyburn said of his dad.

Like his father, Clyburn prefers defense.

“I like the hitting part, but I also like the fact that you can make plays,” he said. “I’m always looking for the interception.”

Fair said Clyburn is a natural for his position.

“He’s talented and gifted to the point that he has God-given speed and superb footwork, essentials for the secondary,” Fair said. “A lot of things other guys have to work on, he’s a natural.”

Fair added another plus.

“Gavin’s coachable,” he said. “I ride them hard back there, but he’s willing to do what it takes. I’ve never seen hard work not pay off for a player.”

Clyburn said he’s pleased with his season, but he’s hoping for better.

“I feel good about the season, but there’s always room to get better, always room for improvement,” he said.

Clyburn said he hopes the Vols, 3-3, 0-1, can get back on track tonight when AJ hosts Cheraw. AJ saw a three-game win streak end with a 34-27 road loss to rival Buford last Friday.

“Cheraw is a running team, so our defense is going to have to be prepared,” he said. “We have to execute and make plays.”

When the 2012 AJ season ends, Clyburn is hoping to see his career continue.

“That’s a dream,” he said. “I don’t care where I go, but I want to go to the next level. If USCL had a football team, I’d go there.”

Fair said he’s confident Clyburn can reach his goal.

“He has the ability to play at the next level,” Fair said. “I always tell them that Saturday is my only day off during football season and I’d love to be going some place to see him play. Gavin has what it takes to make that possible.”