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2017 Clemson Football Participation: Tight Ends

NCAA Football: Clemson at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-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.

Tight end is always interesting to look at in the snap counts because Clemson rarely runs a 2 TE set. Because of this we can get a pretty good idea of the pecking order and how coaches are bringing guys along. There isn’t a lot of discussion on if a guy is playing the 5 or 9 like with receivers, nor do we have to worry about a DB playing nickel or a LB as the SAM. Below are the snap counts for Clemson’s tight ends.

TE Snap Counts

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
Shadell Bell TE RS Sophomore 8 0 6 3 3 3 0 4 0 0 14 7 6 54
J.C. Chalk TE RS Freshman 14 0 5 1 2 0 0 2 0 0 12 5 5 46
Ryan Enniss TE RS Freshman 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 4
D.J. Greenlee TE RS Senior 12 22 17 0 0 12 8 5 7 26 17 25 15 166
Cole Renfrow TE RS Freshman 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Milan Richard TE RS Junior 35 50 50 62 49 52 27 48 50 46 13 29 37 548
Cannon Smith TE RS Junior 14 0 10 19 13 24 8 25 9 17 11 10 15 175
Garrett Williams TE Junior 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Obviously Milan Richard had the majority of snaps this year, but percentage wise he took fewer snaps than Jordan Leggett did in 2016, nearly 15% less than Leggett. To some degree this isn’t a big surprise given Leggett’s performance in 2016. But it is worth noting that even in 2015 Leggett took nearly 10% more of the snaps on the season than Richard despite the concerns over Jordan’s ability to perform.

Going into 2018 the big question is going to be how Garrett Williams recovers from his ACL tear and what snaps he may be able to take from Richard. We’ve been high on Williams since his arrival at Clemson, but he just hasn’t quite put it all together. Even with Richard as the entrenched starter there is a possibility for Williams to carve out a role, especially in either a solid blocking role or as a pass catcher, both of which were lacking this year.

There will also be around 210 snaps up for grabs this year with departing TEs. Obviously these could end up becoming Williams’ snaps, but they could also go to Cannon Smith depending on how much he improves this year. While DJ Greenlee was favored early in the year, Smith seemed to gain the coaching staff’s trust as the season went on which is always a good sign.

For the tight ends in 2018 it is a bit of put up or shut up time. Milan Richard may be the starter, but he doesn’t have the position locked down, especially if Smith or Williams can prove they deserve the start through better blocking and catching. Keep an eye on how the tight ends are doing in the passing game during the offseason. That’s one element we were missing this year and a real threat at TE can open up a lot of options in the passing game, regardless of who QB1 is.