Alvin Kamara Says He Once Tried To Transfer To Clemson, Dabo Swinney Told Him No

Alvin Kamara on the field before a Saints preseason game.

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All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara filled fans in on an interesting tidbit from his college playing days earlier this month. The Saints rusher was apparently turned away by a program that would soon become a powerhouse in the college football landscape.

Kamara said that he tried to transfer to Clemson after an arrest in Georgia, but Dabo Swinney told him, “No.” He’d later attend community college before becoming a Tennessee Vol.

The rusher’s college journey was far from typical. A four-star recruit in the class of 2013, Kamara was rated as one of the top 100 high school players in the nation. He signed with Alabama in the offseason, but he wouldn’t be on campus long.

The running back ran into some adversity after getting to campus, undergoing a knee surgery in preseason camp. He then struggled to break through in a running back room that featured Derrick Henry, TJ Yeldon, and Kenyan Drake.

Going from bad to worse, Kamara was banned from team activities due to “behavioral issues” during the Crimson Tide’s bowl preparations, pushing him to start fresh at a new school.

Kamara sat down with the Life and Times podcast to discuss what happened after his decision to leave Alabama.

Kamara says that though Nick Saban wanted to keep him on the roster following that initial first season, he quickly dropped all of his University of Alabama classes.

He then restarted the recruitment process, taking visits to colleges that had offered scholarships when he was still in high school.

One of those schools was Clemson, located just an hour or so away from his hometown of Atlanta. Tigers coaches asked if he was committing following his visit to upstate South Carolina, to which he replied, “No.”

Unfortunately, that offer wouldn’t stay on the table long.

Two days after that Clemson trip, Kamara was arrested for driving on a suspended license. With colleges rescinding their offers given the off-field incident, he reached back out to head coach Dabo Swinney.

The coach’s stance on the running back had changed.

“I called Dabo and them… they want me, I’m going to go there,” Kamara said. He didn’t get the response he was hoping for.

“‘We saw the news, you got arrested,'” the Clemson coaching staff replied. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m out now so I’m going to just go ahead and commit.’ They were like, ‘Ahh, nah.’ Dabo was on the phone, he was like, ‘You can go to JUCO for a year, and then after that, probably come here.’

“I said, ‘Man f— that.'”

Kamara then decided to call Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where he’d spend a season. In nine games, he scored 21 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,200 yards. He’d later transfer to Tennessee and develop into a third-round NFL Draft pick.

Clemson would go on to win in 2016, so they didn’t necessarily need Kamara in the backfield. Still, it’s an interesting story of what could’ve been.