By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Clemson freshman tight end Jordan Leggett has run down the hill twice in his career. The first time, against Georgia, he was injured and did not see the field. The second time, against South Carolina State, he played.
There’s no question which time he enjoyed more.
“I don’t like to run down the hill unless I get to play,” Leggett said. “Coming out of high school, I never had to sit on the sideline and watch other people play. It was a different situation for me.”
Leggett played a few snaps in the second half against South Carolina State, the first chance he had to get his feet wet against collegiate competition. The Florida native caught one pass for six yards—hardly a line that jumps off the box score.
But it was his very presence on the field that pleased Clemson’s coaching staff on Saturday.
Fans caught their first glimpse of Leggett during the spring game, when he leapt into the forefront of the discussion at tight end with a monster performance. The coaching staff
It was a long process of development for Leggett to reach the point where a freshman was suddenly the man to beat at tight end for the Tigers. He was an under-recruited wide receiver from a small school who received a Clemson offer before most of the country even knew his name.
Leggett is convinced his decision to enroll in January is the thing that allowed him to make a good first impression in front of the staff and fans in the offseason. He began to work on becoming a fixture in the rotation as soon as he arrived in Clemson.
“The first day I got here, they actually gave me a playbook,” Leggett said. “I just started reading it and going through it.”
Then a knee injury occurred early in fall camp, and Leggett’s whole outlook changed. People were saying all the right things, but there was clearly some concern about how the tight end position would function without Leggett in the fold.
For a young guy to handle such a circumstance—going from freshman starter for a top ten team to rehabbing an injury mere weeks before the start of the season—is tough. Leggett was not immune to some “woe is me” moments along the road to recovery.
“It just really brought my whole mentality on things, how I thought, way down,” he said. “It kind of messed me up when I did come back to practice after my injury.”
Becoming a factor in the second game of the season certainly has brightened Leggett’s outlook on things. He still isn’t 100 percent, but he is able to function within the confines of the offense while his knee progresses. The bulky brace required for Leggett to perform on the field can be restrictive at times, so he feels the game plan still doesn’t necessarily capitalize on his full skill set.
“I can still cut, but I’m slow coming out of my cuts and stuff,” Leggett said. “I know that. I can just tell it’s different.
“But that’s all going to change.”
When it does, Leggett won’t have to worry about running down the hill just to sit on the sidelines anymore.