Virginia picks up former Clemson running back Pace from transfer portal

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Clemson Athletics

After Clemson running back Kobe Pace entered the NCAA transfer portal, he returned to his roots for his next destination in college football.

Pace, who was recruited out of high school in Cedartown, Ga., by then-Clemson assistant coach Tony Elliott, committed to Elliott’s Virginia program on Tuesday. Pace, who finished his injury-plagued junior season with ACC champion Clemson, gives UVA an experienced big back at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds.

Pace steps into a Virginia running-back room along with rising sophomore Xavier Brown and possibly Mike Hollins, one of the UVA football players who was shot in a triple-homicide on Nov. 13, ending the Cavaliers’ season. Hollins is home recuperating and plans to return to football, according to his father.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Walker Jr. announced he was entering the transfer portal and Perris Jones’ status is unknown after he completed his senior season in 2022. Those were all of the experienced backs on UVA’s roster last fall.

Pace was the third back in Clemson’s rotation this past season. He missed several games with a complicated high-ankle sprain that required a procedure. He was injured in early October, causing him to miss the next four weeks of action.

He underwent a “tightrope” procedure, the surgical installment of a suture to connect the weakened gap between the leg bones, tibia and fibula, to the ankle.

Due to the injury, Pace finished the season with 77 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, and caught six passes for 35 yards over eight games (103 offensive snaps). For his Clemson career, he finished with 793 yards and nine scores on 152 attempts, and hauled in 23 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. He appeared in 28 games for the Tigers (six starts). Pace also had 91 yards on four kickoff returns.

His best season in Death Valley was 2021 when he compiled 641 yards and six touchdowns on 104 rushes, and also posted 131 yards on 12 catches in Elliott’s offense.

Check out some of his highlights below from his game against Wake Forest last season, when he rushed for a career-best 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns, earning him ACC Running Back of the Week honors: