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2017 Clemson Football Participation Review: Wide Receiver

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: Games started and games played are not always the best metrics to define experience. Sometimes players get 5 snaps in a game while others get 40. Because of this we review the snap counts of each player at the end of the season to see who has really gained experienced and how much experience Clemson will really be losing.

Wide receiver is always one of the more interesting positions when we do this review. Because of the number of receivers we normally have each play, plus the amazing level of talent, the numbers can swing wildly from game to game and from year to year. Below is the snap count for 2017.

WR Snap Count

Player Position Year Kent State Auburn Louisville Boston College Virginia Tech Wake Forest Syracuse Georgia Tech NC State Florida State Citadel South Carolina Miami Total
Player Position Year Kent State Auburn Louisville Boston College Virginia Tech Wake Forest Syracuse Georgia Tech NC State Florida State Citadel South Carolina Miami Total
Deon Cain WR Junior 23 56 46 54 46 44 53 40 63 66 24 42 47 604
T.J. Chase WR RS Freshman 26 4 17 11 10 20 0 15 5 6 22 18 16 170
Carter Groomes WR RS Freshman 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 4 0 0 14
Tee Higgins WR Freshman 25 4 18 15 10 18 0 15 10 8 15 17 20 175
Jayson Hopper WR RS Freshman 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 0 0 11
Ray-Ray McCloud WR Junior 27 54 39 55 45 49 53 44 62 64 18 37 28 575
Diondre Overton WR Sophomore 24 10 21 11 11 28 5 23 10 14 20 27 17 221
Cornell Powell WR Sophomore 19 2 18 10 10 15 0 12 8 7 21 16 11 149
Hunter Renfrow WR RS Junior 24 50 45 61 46 44 51 45 66 67 14 46 41 600
Amari Rodgers WR Freshman 26 10 23 14 10 26 5 19 13 13 20 30 22 231
Jack Swinney WR RS Senior 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 7 3 0 18
Will Swinney WR Freshman 13 0 5 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 11 2 5 40
Trevion Thompson WR RS Junior 21 11 21 18 10 26 15 17 23 11 22 26 13 234
Kanyon Tuttle WR RS Sophomore 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0 0 13

The big thing to see this year is that our top 3 receivers had a much higher snap count relative to the rest of the group than previous years. Last year starters played about 53% of all snaps, this year it was 58%, an extra 7-8 snaps a game. That is a bit surprising considering the staff was willing to sub much earlier in games. But apparently the staff still wanted the top receivers out there often.

But despite this difference, we still saw a lot of backups getting experience this year. And that came by spreading out snaps to every receiver on the roster. In 2016 8 receivers had over 100 snaps, but beyond the top 3 receivers we saw 2 with 400+ snaps, 1 with 300+ snaps, and 2 with 100+ snaps. This year was very different. The difference between the top 3 receivers and the 4th receiver was nearly 350 snaps. No other receiver besides Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Hunter Renfrow had more than 250 snaps.

On one hand it is nice to see the coaching staff got guys like Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins some real snaps. We always like to see younger guys getting enough experience so that they aren’t wasting a redshirt unnecessarily. The question here though will be if anyone has enough experience to step up to replace Cain and McCloud. It is a big step and does help highlight how even though we’ve got a huge amount of talent waiting at WR, guys are going to have to step up and prove themselves. There aren’t obvious candidates to replace Cain and McCloud based solely on experience.

A final note about the receivers, one thing that can depress some of the development for younger players is how many talented receivers Clemson has. This year 9 players got over 100 snaps compared to 8 last year. Had one of the newer receivers not gotten 100 snaps then we may have seen some other guys get more experience. But that means giving Tee or Amari a redshirt, not exactly something we wanted to do. This year won’t get much easier with Derion Kendrick and Justyn Ross. Keep an eye on how the staff distributes receiver snaps in 2018.