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Clemson Football Season Review: Wide Receivers

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#WRU is still firing on all cylinders

Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A Clemson WR is to be expected to be the best, plain and simple.

Losing a huge contributor to the draft or a prolonged injury doesn’t slow WRU down, being young and inexperienced doesn’t either. For some, even an ACL tear is but a minor speed bump in the offseason.

In many ways, this was a classic season from the WR corps. The stats improved (for the most part) but they don’t quite tell the whole story without some digging.

Let’s get into it.

Tee Higgins

WHAT
ESPN

What’s there to even say about Tee Higgins? He’s elite, and I’d bet on him being a first round pick in 2020 given his superhuman abilities and Clemson’s first round WR pedigree. He’s got #1 WR written all over him, so I’ll just let the gifs do the talking.

HOW
ESPN
Note that all of these Tee gifs are from just one game
ESPN

See you in the Pro Bowl, Tee.

Justyn Ross

2019 was always going to be a tough year for Justyn Ross. He wasn’t bad, not in the slightest, but the expectations on him coming in were ridiculous. Part of that was because of what he did in 2018:

We’ve seen WRs make circus catches before, though.

The reason expectations were so high is because his ‘explosion’ was in national championship game. The perfect way to give everyone around 7 months to rewatch those bonkers catches and build up hype.

But in 2019, Ross’s average yards per catch went from 21.7 on 46 catches to 13.1 on 66 catches, a shadow of the bonkers numbers he put out as a freshman – what gives?

Well, Clemson lost (his holiness) Hunter Renfrow to the NFL and still haven’t found a true receiving tight end to replace 2016 graduate Jordan Leggett. Throw in Amari Rodger’s torn ACL, and it make sense to give a lot of those underneath and middle of the field routes to Ross.

With Tee Higgins off to the NFL, Ross is the favorite to become the new WR1. By this time next year, we’ll have forgotten about Ross’ so called sophomore slump.

Amari Rodgers

The season ended a month ago and I’m still stunned that Amari Rodgers made it back at all in 2019. In case you forgot, Amari Rodger tore his ACL in practice in late-March and was back ready to play on September 7th.

Naturally, Rodgers was targeted less this year, speedy recovery or not you don’t want to just throw a guy right back into the fire, but Rodgers used those opportunities well. His total yardage only went down a bit, he had the same number of TDs, and his YPC jumped from 10.5 to 14.2.

And he did stuff like this along the way:

Roughly 5 months after tearing an ACL
ESPN

ACL injuries used to end careers, now some of them barely end off-seasons, I am completely in awe.

Diondre Overton

There’s not a lot to say about Overton’s 2019, or his career for that matter. He’s a good receiver, otherwise he wouldn’t be here, but 2019 was his first year with more than 200 yards total, finishing with 352 and 3 TDs on 22 catches. And most of that came in a big performance vs Boston College where he hauled in 119 of that 352 and all 3 of his TDs.

A four-star recruit out of high school, Overton showed a lot of potential and his measurables are everything you want in a WR. Things just never quite came together at Clemson.

Cornell Powell

Another long-time rotational WR, Powell will still be here in 2020 thanks to the new redshirt rule. Powell saw an increased role in 2019 as another remedy for the thinness underneath, and hopefully he can improve further in 2020. He’s at risk of being crowded out by younger WRs, though. A shame for another former four-star, but that’s life in such a talented position group.

Joseph Ngata & Frank Ladson Jr.

These two names will be a lot more familiar to you soon, they’re the next era of #WRU. Both are 6’3” true freshmen fresh off being highly-touted recruits; they saw backup action in most games this season and both put up respectable numbers for newbies. I wish Ladson Jr. had been redshirted, though.

As we’re getting into the region of the WR corps where it gets challenging to say anything about anyone, I’ll conclude by saying that Clemson pride and joy position group is doing fine and the WRU tradition is going to continue for years to come.

Oh wait! Speaking of WR tradition:

WILL SWINNEY

BEHOLD
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No Swinney has ever caught as many passes as Will Swinney. No Swinney has ever had as many yards in a career, season, or game. No other Swinney has ever reached the endzone.

Will Swinney is the GOAS (Gutsiest of all Swinneys)