With Mike Williams and Artavis Scott moving on to the NFL, guys like Diondre Overton and Cornell Powell have an opportunity to earn some more playing time at wide receiver this coming season.
However, that’s not an easy thing to do at Clemson these days. Despite losing one potential top 15 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and another that will be drafted as well, the Tigers still return two guys who played a big role in the program’s national championship win over Alabama and another who finished third on the team in receptions.
Hunter Renfrow (caught the winning touchdown pass against Alabama and finished the game with 10 receptions for 92 yards) Deon Cain (43-yard catch-and-run changed the momentum) and Ray-Ray McCloud (49 receptions) are all back and ready to take over for Williams and Scott.
“We definitely have the best receiving group in the nation,” said rising sophomore Cornell Powell.
Powell, who was a highly regarded receiver coming out of high school, played mostly on special teams in 2016 and finished the season with just 12 receptions for 87 yards.
“Even when you’re talented you still have to put that much more work in and prove yourself,” the Greenville, N.C., native said. “Other guys at other programs, they think it’s easy over here. It’s just as hard because we have so many top tier guys from around the country. Every day we come in here and we compete with each other and we make each other better.”
Powell, who is playing mostly on the field side behind McCloud, feels as if he has developed well this spring, but he still has some work to do.
“I learned game speed, tempo, and just technique,” he said. “It really helps you at this level. Everybody is really talented, so you have to have proper technique to outwork the other guy.”
As for trying to fill the voids left by Williams and Scott, Powell says they are doing it with a “by a committee” approach.
“I think Deon, Renfrow, Ray-Ray, all those guys are really stepping up,” he said. “We understand that there’s no more Mike, there’s no more Artavis. So, we have to come together and contribute equally. Whether it’s Jack Swinney or Deon Cain, there shouldn’t be a drop off with any of our guys.”
Powell says he is ready for his opportunity.
“I’m ready whatever it is,” he said. “Coach (Dabo) Swinney knows what’s best and knows who can help us best and where, so I’m just going off him. Wherever he tells me, I’ll go out there and do my best at it.
“I’m just blessed to be here and have this opportunity. I’m ready to make those guys proud because I know that I’m going to be taking the reigns over sooner or later, so I’m ready to step up.”
–Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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