By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Before the 2013 season had even started, Clemson was already down a scholarship at the wide receiver position when DeAndre Hopkins darted for the NFL and the Tigers could not find a replacement in the ’13 recruiting class.
Those numbers dropped one more just two weeks into the year when Charone Peak tore his ACL in practice following the S.C. State game. But thanks to a good off-season conditioning program, Clemson survived the rest of the season without another major loss.
But Clemson’s brief fortune at the position ended following the Orange Bowl when All-American Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant both declared themselves eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
With the loss of arguably the two best wide receivers to have ever played at Clemson in the last two seasons in Hopkins and Watkins, as well as losing another in Bryant who had the potential to be one of the best the school has ever seen, the Tigers found themselves in trouble – or so we thought.
“That was a critical need for us. We signed four guys and we are excited about all four of those guys,” Swinney said.
Those four guys are Artavis Scott, Kyrin Priester, Demarre Kitt and Trevion Thompson. Scott, Priester and Kitt all enrolled in school in January and will compete for playing time this spring. Thompson, a late edition to the class, will come in this summer.
Scott (5-11, 180) is a four-star recruit from East Lake Tapron Springs, Fla. He is known as a speedster and has been described as cross between Jacoby Ford and Sammy Watkins. He should compete for the spot left open by Watkins on the field side.
Priester (6-2, 185) has the size and range to be a good receiver. He enrolled in school this January after spending the fall at a prep school. Like Shaq Lawson was to the defense this year, Priester is ready to come in and contribute after missing his first season at Clemson in prep school.
Kitt (6-1, 185) enrolled early so he could compete for playing this fall. He is a four-star recruit with good skills and speed. He is a very balanced possession receiver that will challenge Peake and others for playing time. He more than likely can play in the slot this year if he has a good spring.
“Having three of them here is a big-time blessing because we get a chance to coach them all spring. By the time we get to August, it ought to be like they have all been redshirted,” Swinney said. “To be able to be coach, go through spring, go through the off-season, go out there and make mistakes when the scoreboard doesn’t count and then go learn and grow from that this summer, while developing chemistry with the quarterbacks, it’s huge.
“By the time all the rest of the freshmen roll in here those guys should be feeling good about where they are.”
Thompson (6-3, 185) chose Clemson on National Signing Day over South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State and Florida. Ranked as the 152nd best player and 20th best wide receiver in the country by ESPN, Thompson had 57 receptions for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns for Hillside High School in Durham, N.C. last fall.
“Thompson was a big-time pick up for us. He is a big guy with great ball skills and is another great kid,” Swinney said. “I love the guys we got at wide receiver. We have a good group coming back, but we needed an influx of talent there and I think we hit a home run.”