Alright, it is time for part 2 of this. Going through WR, RB, TE, and Walk-ons.
Are we WRU? Apparently. We should be while we have Deshaun Watson on campus--now is the time to cash in on having that elite QB that attracts elite WR talent. Let us start by taking a look at the position. We are really in the same position we were last offseason.
Mike Williams is your starter who needs to continue to progress so that he is a star player. He is knocking on the door with 57 receptions, 1030 yards and 6 TD's. Part of this was Cole Stoudt but Williams has the potential to take over a game--you could see it in the USCjr and Oklahoma games. If you remember Williams was a late addition we were really happy about here at STS, despite North still being on the boards at the time. He was an in-state battle (his mom even playfully tried to pull off his Clemson hat and put a USCjr hat on) and certainly Carolina would love to have him this coming year.
Charone Peake needs to get completely healthy. We forced him into action too soon because of the Georgia game and he wasn't the same player. I was surprised to see that he logged 221 snaps but only had 12 receptions--not the ratio of production you want from a guy who looked poised to breakout at the beginning of the 2013 season. With his last chance to meet lofty expectations (remember some services had him ranked ahead of Sammy) he must get healthy and regain that speed. Germone Hopper had 424 snaps (what?) and had decent production but will need to keep his head on straight and not put himself back into Swinney's doghouse. He was really close to being dismissed from the program. G-Hop had some nice catches last year but also passes bounce off his hands. Needs to dedicate himself to gaining some needed strength (5'11 175--still??!). TJ Green got less than the requisite 100 snaps his freshman year and was moved to DB where we said he needed to be all along and played well in a back-up role. Humphries is gone along with Priester and Kitt. Priester had a bad attitude during a tough stretch for the team and was given a short leash that was yanked. Kitt did some stupid things with social media that I won't elaborate on and he decided to leave (
was asked to leave). Artavis Scott had a great year, incredibly productive, with team high's in receptions (76) and TD's (8). He gained 965 yards on 550 snaps. Conversely, Humphries in 582 snaps had 30 receptions for only 204 yards and one TD. Scott rightly started taking those snaps away from Humph (now is not the place but Humphries showed he had a ceiling and while his ranking was low and Swinney did a good job picking him out--clearly the higher rated 4* player was much more talented and productive). Coming off a redshirt Trevion Thompson will provide depth--I haven't heard much about his progression in the offseason so it would surprise me if he contributed greatly next year.
We took three wide receivers in this class and met our needs in terms of talent and numbers but we could have added a fourth wide receiver to improve the depth at the position. Next year we need to focus on adding some size and elite speed at the position.
We all know how much I love Deon Cain and Ray Ray McCloud so I won't belabor the point. One thing that can't be overstated is how important these two guys are to cracking the Tampa area for Clemson. Sammy Watkins is from Fort Myers, which is south of Tampa and Scott is from East Lake which is very close but still a bit east--we just went into the heart of Tampa football and plucked out some of the regions best. Cain from Tampa Tech, Ray Ray from Sickles, and Fruhmorgan from Plant. Clemson just hasn't been able to do this in the past. Big time recruiting by Tony Elliott for all three. Cain will start in the two deep immediately with a rare blend of size, speed and hands. He could start playing the 9 or 5 position and eventually will learn all three. Ray Ray has that elite lateral agility and is a tougher runner than people give him credit. Both have excellent hands and will be dangerous with Watson. I expect that both will play key roles in the 2-deep and push players like G-Hop further down the depth chart.
Shadell Bell (6'2 200) is a player I am struggling to evaluate. He committed early in the process, wavered late and Clemson was willing to let him walk. We could have grabbed someone more highly rated if we had stayed on them longer (**digression--people will say, who specifically could we have gotten and my response is that coaches with their positional numbers will prematurely shutdown the recruitment of a lot of highly ranked guys that potentially could sign. Auden Tate is a guy this cycle who we wanted and kept in contact with but didn't really push for like we do others because we were 'full'). Bell has size and runs good routes but is not all that fast. High points the ball well though and could be a Mike Williams type of receiver with development. He can block and is pretty polished as a receiver at the high school level but I'm not sure how that will translate because he does have trouble getting separation at times. Now is this because he was injured his senior year (ankle) or because we have seen him plateau in his development. Juval Mollette is an intriguing prospect we passed on and Whiteside is the local product many wanted Clemson to take a deeper look at. He fits better at Stanford and doesn't give Clemson elite height or speed at the position. USCjr should have taken him but they offered less talented guys and then came back late and would have offered if he had accepted immediately. He should do well at Stanford.
We will take three WR's next year, two already committed. Chase gives you speed and Powell an overall solid package. We are waiting on Overton for the size at 6'5. More on those guys to come.
We didn't take any backs this year. Normally we think that you need to take one back per year with injury and attrition high at the position but we did this because recently committed 5* RB Tavien Feaster (5'11 203) really responded to the recruiting pitch that we were taking no one in 2014. It is the same gambit/recruiting strategy that helped land Deshaun Watson but also made us susceptible to depth problems. However, we do have ways to get creative in the run game with Cain at Wildcat and McCloud doing more in the backfield as he gains more weight so I am not as worried. GT signed Mikell Lands-Davis who really wanted to be a Tiger. It will be interesting to follow this recruiting class for GT--all 3 stars but with guys like Lands-Davis and Tyler Cooksey (another prospect with Clemson ties who wanted to be a Tiger) they could outperform their stars.
Sam Cooper ended a disappointing senior campaign, beset by injury. He couldn't stay healthy his entire career. Leggett was inconsistent and still doesn't want to block anyone. Seckinger still needs to gain 10-15 pounds and learn to block anyone. You go back and watch the film and guys are consistently inconsistent. I mean Seckinger on a 3rd and 1 allows a 280 pound Dixon brother to go untouched, in a comical whiff, on his way to stop Dye in the backfield. This must improve and hopefully Milan Richard can provide that injection of talent and toughness we sorely need. Jay Jay McCullough is being reviewed by the coaching staff and will need to do work to regain the favor of the coaching staff.
Garrett Williams (6'4 230) is a great pick-up for Clemson. He was a legacy recruit for FSU that they were hesitant to pull the trigger on early in the process. This allowed Clemson to get in and sell him on the family, faithful atmosphere. Williams father played for Bobby Bowden while Brad Scott was coaching there, which got us in the door. Another good recruiting job in Florida by Jeff Scott. Williams doesn't have any elite tools but is good at a lot of things. His high school team only runs the ball so he does a good job of blocking, even running the ball, but with limited opportunities for catching passes. He isn't a burner who will be an elite WR like Leggett can be but he has good hands and has shown in camps and the Under Armor game that he can catch. Will need to adjust to a new offense and put on some weight (although he is already about the size of Seckinger). Definitely on the bubble to redshirt. It all depends on how the other players at TE progress. If you have more lazy Leggett and Seckinger blocking air then he might see time. If he were enrolled in school already then I could see him playing but since he opted to go to the prom I think the more likely scenario is redshirt (if he plays it may reflect how poorly the coaches think of current players). We also have plenty of thumpers to pick from. Williams definitely meets the need for this year and we are good with numbers, especially if Jay Jay sticks.
I always try to speak about preferred walk-ons that we land. They are actually very important pieces to a good football team. You are only as good as the competition you can cultivate in your program and this year we landed two guys who I think will help give the team a harder edge and may end up contributing substantially to the program. Last year we brought in Kurt Fleming who was an intriguing athlete but couldn't keep it together and Hunter Renfrow who could provide depth eventually at WR.
Logan Tisch (6'2 298) is a name I think we should remember. He went to a Rivals camp in Charlotte and competed really well. He handled our DT commits Sterling Johnson and Gage Cervenka during one-on-one's. Small sample size but noteworthy nonetheless. He has size, decent height, and a mean streak. He needs to work on foot speed and agility but uses his hands pretty good. Pads get too high in his film but I see a D-1 player on tape and he could work his way into playing time eventually.
The other name is Seth Penner (6'1 280). Great story here. Lifelong Clemson fan who comes to camp and earns his preferred walk-on status. He took all comers and won reps against highly touted players. From what I have been told the guy was relentless, played mean, and had people rooting for him by the end of camp. He is a bit undersized and does well in run blocking so I could see him playing at center down the road. Good Clemson stock--how can you not get behind that?
Defense is next.