Much of the talk at Clemson this off-season has been about replacing Deshaun Watson at quarterback or who will pick up where Mike Williams left off at wide receiver. The running back race to replace Wayne Gallman has sparked major interest as well.
However, no one is talking about the tight end position … a position, like at quarterback, the Clemson coaches have to replace the best player to ever where the Clemson orange and white at tight end.
In his four years at Clemson, Leggett hauled in a record 112 passes for a record 1,598 yards and a record 18 touchdowns. If you remember, it was Leggett’s 17-yard twisting catch at the Alabama nine-yard line that put the Tigers in business for the game-winning touchdown in the national championship game.
Now it is someone else’s turn to make plays at tight end and the guy who seems primed to do it is Milan Richard, who has been compared to another Clemson great Dwayne Allen. Richard, a redshirt junior, really came on in the spring and grabbed the position from the others … Cannon Smith, D.J. Greenlee and J.C. Chalk.
“It’s exciting, but we knew this time was coming,” Richard said in the spring. “We tried to prepare for it and now it’s here so now we have to take it and run with it. We miss Jordan, he’s a great guy and we miss him in our room.”
Going into camp, which begins on Aug. 4, Richard can’t really pinpoint any specific area of his game to improve.
“I’ve been working on all assets of my game,” he said. “I don’t think you can say one part of my game is good enough to stop working on…so really just all of it to become a complete player.”
However, there is one area Richard believes he has grown.
“I think my maturity. Being able to understand what we got going on and what the coaches want from us,” he said. “I think some of us have been able to relay that to the rest of the offense. So I think sometimes it’s just a mature area, being able to look at the game kind of from a coaches’ perspective is something that I think I’ve worked on a little bit.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney has noticed. He, along with both offensive coordinators, Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott, raved about Richard’s maturity and how he has taken his game to another level. Swinney said it is not uncommon for a player to show a little more when they know a roster spot has come open.
As for this coming fall, Richard said his main goal is to show he can be consistent in all facets of the game.
“Just being able to show that I can perform when the lights are on, if you will. It’s different from the practice field and performing per say, so just doing it in a game full time,” he said.
While he feels he improved over the spring, Richard still has a ways to go before he is fully satisfied.
“You’re never going to accomplish everything, you’re always improving,” he said. “Of course you have goals set and things you want to accomplish but no, we’re nowhere near accomplishing everything we need to accomplish.”
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