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Off to a surprising start

If you asked before the season, “Who the most electrifying player on the field would be this season,” you would have probably heard Mike Williams’, Deshaun Watson’s or Wayne Gallman’s name.

Very few would have guessed Ray Ray McCloud. However, after four games this season, the sophomore leads No. 3 Clemson in receptions and is second in receiving yards.

Unfortunately for McCloud, his claim to fame began with a very forgettable moment. A dropped ball at the goal line while prematurely celebrating a punt return against Troy cost the Tigers a touchdown before halftime and he was heavily criticized for it.

However, he rebounded in the second half with two punt returns for 21 yards and four catches for 43 yards to lead the Tigers.

How was he able to bounce back so quickly?

“It was all about having a short-term memory” McCloud said on Monday as Clemson prepares to play No. 4 Louisville on Saturday in Death Valley. “That’s what all great players have.”

Years of football experience have prepared McCloud to overcome mistakes, but he learned to focus even before he picked up the pigskin.

“It’s all a matter of getting back up and going harder” he said. “That’s what I’ve been taught since I was a baby.”

McCloud has used his 5-foot-10 180-pound frame to grab 21 receptions for 251 yards and two touchdowns so far this year, almost equaling his total production from last season.

The part of his game where he has improved the most is on special teams. Last year Clemson had only 63 punt return yards at the end of the season, while McCloud has already compiled 169 yards on 10 returns.

He attributes his improvement in his punt game to preparation.

“Every punt return I practice is situational. I prepare with a purpose,” he said.

With Saturday’s game against Louisville looming, McCloud will look to continue his breakout sophomore campaign on the national stage.

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