By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
CLEMSON – Nationally, everyone knows Clemson wide receivers Nuk Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. However, this Clemson wide receiver starting corps is not a duo, it’s a trio, a trio completed by senior Jaron Brown.
While Brown may not draw the national eye, his playmaking ability is a big reason for the success of the Clemson offense over the past two seasons.
“I call him ‘Third-Down Brown.’ We all call him that,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “He kind of gets irritated about it, but he is probably the most overlooked guy in this offense, and he is probably the most crucial part of this offense.
“I know there are times when we don’t get him involved as much as we should, but that’s going to come. We are going to make sure he gets plenty of opportunities to go out there and make plays.”
Brown is one of Boyd’s favorite targets on third down due in large part to his ability to make sure-handed catches in traffic.
“The thing with Jaron, I don’t really recall him dropping a pass,” Boyd said. “Every time he gets the opportunity to catch it, I know he is going to make that ridiculous catch.”
Brown says it’s just about making the most of his opportunities when he number is called. So far this season, his number has been called 11 times for 177 yards; his 16.1 yards per catch average ranks first among all Clemson wide receivers.
“I just want to make plays,” the senior said. “Tajh does a great job of delivering me the ball, whenever it is in my direction. I want to come down with it.”
This ability to make key catches in traffic is due in part to the work Brown and the receivers put in on the practice field. For Brown, the work the Tigers put in on the practice field, makes the tough catches in the game seem like second nature.
“I really don’t think about it. I just focus on the ball,” he said. “We do drills during practice that help with those situations.”
Brown credits the play of not only his game, but also the entire receiving corps, to work that is done in the off-season. For Brown, skill and drills in the summertime has been a chance for him to hone his craft and become more comfortable with quarterback Tajh Boyd.
Brown also credits the play of his teammates on the defensive side of the ball during those workouts, saying that their play has helped him become a better receiver.
Brown once again came up big in the Tigers’ 45-31 victory over Boston College last Saturday. He had multiple key catches, including a long catch that led to a Clemson touchdown in the third quarter.
But the play of the day came on a pass in front of the Clemson sideline to the 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver. Boyd, who was scrambling to avoid pressure, launched a pass down the right side of the field. Brown, who was running across the field, exploded into the air, while reaching the ball at its highest point and coming down with the crucial catch.
“I saw him a little bit, but those guys were kind of tall so I kind of threw it right when I was getting hit. Then I heard the crowd yell, and I was like, ‘Cool,’” Boyd said. “I looked at it, and his jumping ability, I don’t know where it is coming from.
“He is doing a great job. I can’t be more proud of that guy.”
Brown credits his relationship with Boyd with giving him the chance to make plays down the field.
“We have a good relationship. Tajh is liable to throw it anywhere. But you have to be ready when he does throw it,” he said.
For Brown, the ability to make the big plays up in the air comes from his mentality to try and finish every play.
“It’s a mentality going up there and getting the ball at its highest point,” he said.
It’s a mentality that allows Boyd to trust Brown, knowing when he sends the ball in his direction, Brown is going to go up and get it.
“If it is one of those where I have to depend on my guy, I’m going to throw it up to Jaron,” Boyd said. “I have all kinds of weapons at my disposal around here, but Jaron is never selfish. He does not worry about stats or things of that nature. He does not really care about it. He is all about helping the team win.”