BOSTON, Mass. — Like most on third-ranked Clemson’s football team, expectations were set high for Jordan Leggett.
The tight end came into the year expected as one of the front runners for the John Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end. Last year he was a finalist for the award after catching a career-high 40 passes for 525 yards and a record-tying eight touchdowns.
But in the first three games, it did not materialize that way. Whether it was because of play calling, what the opponents were doing or his own play, Leggett was not getting the football. He had just one catch for nine yards.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but I just had to tell myself to stay patient and I feel like the ball will find me more and in bigger games,” said Leggett, who along with the rest of the Tigers will play Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., at 7:30 p.m.
The ball started to find Leggett in the Georgia Tech game in Atlanta. The senior had four catches in the 26-7 win for 31 yards, including a nine-yard pass from quarterback Deshaun Watson with nine seconds left in the first half, which gave Clemson a 23-0 lead at the time.
“Whenever we play (bigger) teams and stuff everything seems to be hitting. So they definitely look for me more in the bigger games. That’s why I’m just waiting for it.” Leggett said.
Leggett waited for it in last week’s win over Louisville, and made the biggest play of the game when he got that chance. With the Tigers trailing by two points late in the fourth quarter from the Louisville 31, Leggett ran a delayed drag route back to the boundary, while Watson rolled to the field.
Watson then stopped and waited for Leggett to get open behind a much slower defensive tackle and then hit the tight end on a throwback-pass.
“Well I kind of turned up field and I saw that there was literally no one in front of me, so I just started running and got some good blocks from the people in front of me, and I was able to score,” Leggett said.
The senior rumbled it for a 31-yard touchdown, the game-winner. He then caught the ensuing two-point conversion on a jump pass to give the Tigers a six-point lead, 42-36, with 3:14 to play.
“It actually wasn’t as hard as you would think, but it definitely worked out just how we planned for it in practice,” Leggett said.
Just like things are now working out for Leggett as heads into tonight’s game against BC. The tight end has hauled in seven passes for 101 yards in the last two games. Also, his 31-yard touchdown reception set a new mark for career touchdowns by a Clemson tight end with 13.
“It was pretty awesome. Coach (Dabo Swinney) presented me with a game ball the other day in practice. It’s definitely special and a moment I won’t forget.”
And it proves that patience pays off.