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2021 Clemson Football Season Preview: Tight Ends

Once again, Clemson fans are waiting for the tight end to become a major factor in the offense.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Virginia at Clemson Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2016, there was a good argument that Jordan Leggett was as important of a target for Deshaun Watson as anyone on the roster, including first round draft pick Mike Williams and Mr. Clutch himself, Hunter Renfrow. Leggett was consistently a huge factor on game winning drives, making some outstanding go-ahead touchdowns in the Louisville and FSU games, and having some clutch grabs during the National Championship winning drive.

For one reason or another, Clemson has not been able to replicate that tight end success. After Braden Galloway’s surprising suspension by the NCAA in the 2018 playoffs, that lasted all they way through the next years playoffs, Braden showed some flashes of what he can do in Clemson’s National Championship loss to LSU. Many (myself included) felt that 2020 would be the year we see Braden explode. We saw a pretty nice game for Galloway against Miami, where he had four receptions for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but after that it was a fairly quiet year.

The other tight end that Clemson will be eyeing is Davis Allen. Allen had sort of a modest stat line in 2020, with 16 receptions for 247 yards, but he doubled up Galloway’s touchdowns with four. Allen is probably a guy that fits more of a Michael Palmer role: Good hands, clutch in the red zone tight end, although he has certainly shown some flashes of big play ability in his two seasons in Tiger Town.

Another guy who is lower on the depth chart that we’re hoping to see step up is Jaelyn Lay. At 6’6” 270 pounds, Lay is the prototypical tight end. Giving DJ another big target would be a huge boon for Clemson’s offense.

Sage Ennis is a younger guy on the roster who saw limited action last season. It will be interesting what his role is this season, particularly since a dominant tight end hasn’t emerged.

Clemson’s wide receiver room is insanely talented, but it’s mostly young talent. Ideally, having at least one tight end step up to be a consistent threat would help take some of the strain off of the receivers. Having two vets like Davis Allen and Braden Galloway can do a lot for an offense that’s breaking in some new guys. And a big guy like Lay can absolutely be an asset, as both a receiver and a blocker. Tight ends will certainly be an interesting group to watch, and hopefully a productive one.

For more on the Clemson Tight Ends and the 2021 season, listen to Matt’s preview on the Clemson Pawcast.