Anytime a young man goes home to play a game, he wants to do it well. But it’s not often he goes home and catches the game-winning touchdown.
However, that’s exactly what Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett got to do last Saturday when he made a 34-yard catch-and-run for the winning score in the second-ranked Tigers win over Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida. With family and friends from his hometown of Navarre, Florida in the stands at Doak Campbell Stadium, Leggett hauled in Deshaun Watson’s pass around the FSU 18-yard line and then dove into the end zone with 2:06 to play.
“Yeah, it definitely felt good and plus I had a lot of family there,” Leggett said. “I think that was actually the first game my mom has seen this year. It just felt good to be back so close to home with all my friends in the stadium.
“To go out there and score the game-winning touchdown… it felt really good.”
It also felt good to see a familiar face in the stands. After the game, one of his old high school coaches came down after the game to congratulate his former player.
“That was actually one of our defensive line coaches from my high school. He is a big FSU graduate and fan so we always bumped heads when I committed to Clemson in high school,” Leggett said. “He’s probably one of my favorite coaches. It’s just a face I noticed out of the crowd so it was just good to see somebody I knew.”
Leggett was also glad to have another big game against his home-state team. The senior hauled in five passes for a career-high 122 yards in Clemson’s 37-34 victory. Last year he had six receptions for 106 yards against the Seminoles.
The 122 yards were also a single-game record for a Clemson tight end.
“It was just like the last time we played them. The middle of the field is always so wide open,” he said. “So we were able to hit them on that last year and I guess they didn’t change anything this year, so it was just another big game for me.”
With his 122 yards, Leggett became the first tight end in Clemson history to record two one-hundred receiving games in a career.
“Two of my biggest games have come against FSU. Especially them not recruiting me is kind of like a ‘How do you like me now?’ kind of thing,” the tight end said.
After starting the season with just one catch for nine yards, Leggett has come on the last five games. Since catching four passes at Georgia Tech on Sept 22, the John Mackey Award candidate has caught 19 passes overall for 345 yards and four touchdowns.
“I don’t think anything’s changed, really. I don’t find myself doing anything different,” he said. “It’s just a matter of different defenses that we face. When we play these bigger teams they seem to have bigger corners, and whatnot, so it’s harder for us to take those easy fade outs. These bigger games, it kind of works out better for me.”
Speaking of the Mackey Award, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end feels he is right where he wants to be from an individual standpoint. Last year, he finished as a finalist for the coveted award as the nation’s best tight end.
“I definitely feel like I’m in a good position,” Leggett said. “I’m just going to try to stay in my lane, keep my head down, and keep working. If it works out for me then it does. The national championship is my main focus, to get there and to win the game.”
Leggett’s 34-yard game-winner in the fourth quarter against FSU was his 15th career touchdown reception, already a Clemson standard. He is quickly approaching all the major career records for a Clemson tight end. As noted, he already owns the touchdown mark, and he needs just eight catches and 40 yards to break McMakin’s career marks in both of those categories. Leggett enters Saturday’s game against Syracuse with 86 receptions for 1,216 yards. John McMakin, who played at Clemson in the late 1960s and early ’70s, had 93 career receptions for 1,255 yards.