Heading into the 2020 season, there was a general feeling that if Clemson’s tight ends could contribute significantly in both the blocking and receiving aspects of the game, the offense could see a big jump in versatility compared to the past few seasons, which featured minimal tight end usage.
The desire to “stretch the middle of the field” with a true tight end threat was certainly prevalent among many fans, myself included. As Matt noted in his season preview, “from 2017-2019, Clemson tight ends have only accounted for four touchdowns.” This year, the position group racked up seven touchdown receptions, and while there was not a dominant game-changer akin to Florida’s Kyle Pitts, the group performed at a higher level than we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
Braden Galloway (463 snaps, 27 receptions, 369 yards, 13.7 YPR, 2 TD)
Entering his junior season, Galloway had displayed flashes of his athleticism but still had yet to really contribute due to his 2019 ostarine suspension. Galloway finally put together a modest campaign in 2020 and was a consistent starter all season. He had his best performance against Miami, hauling in a season-high 74 yards on 4 receptions to go along with his only 2 TD’s of the season. Next season will be another chance for him to improve his craft even further, hopefully leading to even more variety for passing schemes in 2021.
Davis Allen (350 snaps, 16 receptions, 247 yards, 15.4 YPR, 4 TD)
The biggest surprise for this position group was probably Allen’s emergence as a legitimate second option to Galloway. He put up decent numbers in his backup role, surpassing Galloway in both TD’s and YPR, and he actually graded higher than Galloway in several categories. Allen was a reliable red-zone option, both as a blocker and a receiver. His development was encouraging to see, and he should look to compete with Galloway for the starting role next season.
J.C. Chalk (123 snaps, 6 receptions, 43 yards, 7.2 YPR, 1 TD)
The lone senior in this position group, Chalk was seen as the veteran who could be used in blocking schemes to perform reliably. Chalk did not see the field nearly as much as Allen did, and aside from his lone touchdown reception in the season opener, Chalk did not contribute much outside of filler snaps. The Clemson family thanks J.C. Chalk for his efforts as a Clemson Tiger and wishes him well!
Jaelyn Lay and Sage Ennis added some additional garbage time snaps but nothing of note. Lay is a big body but has yet to actually make an impact. Ennis will enjoy a full offseason and hope to see the field a bit more in his sophomore season. Sophomore Luke Price tore his ACL just a few days before the season opened, although he was not expected to be a major contributor.
Next season one can only hope to see a continued rise in tight end utilization, as their total production this season only accounted for 13% of all receiving yards. Compare that to when Jordan Leggett was the team’s second-leading receiver, and it’s clear the tight end position has plenty of room for improvement. Still, the future is bright as Clemson is welcoming the country’s top-rated freshman TE Jake Briningstool onto campus, as well as returning everyone aside from senior J.C. Chalk.