The way Deon Cain sees it, if he doesn’t score at least two touchdowns and gain hundred yards in every game, “then I will feel like I have failed, but every game does not go how (it is planned),” he said.
That’s why Cain cut his body weight from the 210 pounds he was listed at in the spring to the 192 pounds he checked in at for fall camp last Wednesday.
“I know I have a bigger role this year,” Clemson’s star wide receiver said after practice on Saturday night. “So I know I have to do a little bit more than what I had to last year. I’m just trying to be a little more athletic.”
The drop in weight has made Cain a little bit faster as well. In a foot race earlier this summer, he edged out running back Tavien Feaster, a state champion sprinter in high school. The drop in weight has also allowed Cain to become more physical at the point of attack and also better at going up and getting the ball out of the air.
Besides watching what he ate, Cain worked on strengthening his shoulders and his speed. He also wanted to put himself in a place where his endurance improved, something wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott challenged him with in the spring.
“There was a lot of behind the scene work,” Cain said. “I’m at a good weight. I feel good with where I am at. I just want to have my body in the perfect place for that so I don’t have to be getting called out on plays. I want to be in there all 65 plays.”
Cain admitted he gained a lot of weight last year during the season so he wanted to give himself a little buffer this year because he knows the grind of a long season and school work will takes its toll.
“I’m just really trying to slow it down so I’m not a little heavier,” he said. “During the season you have all kinds of options for any type of food so really just trying to maintain that and keep my body around or under 200.”
Currently Cain is penciled in as Clemson’s “9-man” or “boundary” receiver, a position he likes to play. He knows a lot of people view him as just a deep threat because that’s all he has played the last two years, but he is more than that. He feels he is more of a complete player than people realize so he spent this summer improving on his route running and get his timing right.
“I like 9-man, it is a (good) fit for me,” he said. “Really playing all over the field, I don’t mind doing that. It is just more of a scouting report for me. Wherever they put me, I will bloom wherever I’m at.”
In each of the last two years, Cain has been Clemson’s big-play target. He averaged 17.1 yards per catch on 34 receptions in 2015, while averaging 19.1 last year on 38 catches. He has 14 career touchdowns, seven of which are at least 33 yards or longer.
Of course the play Tiger fans remember more than any is his 43-yard catch-and-run in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Down 14-0 at the time, it is the play that got the Clemson offense rolling against Alabama as the Tigers outscored the Tide 35-17 from that point on.
“Everybody on our team is capable of doing whatever,” Cain said. “I was just blessed that I got that call and I just made the best of my opportunity so that is how I attack every play. I don’t really see me as the guy. I already know just going up in that level, I just attack every game one by one.”
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