By Will Vandervort.
Few freshmen in the country last year were as productive as Clemson’s Artavis Scott.
The wide receiver caught a team-high 76 passes for 965 yards and eight touchdowns in 2014, which earned him All-ACC second-team honors as well as First-Team Freshman All-American accolades.
So what does all that get Scott in 2015? According to head coach Dabo Swinney it gets him nothing.
“They don’t give out sophomore All-American teams,” Clemson’s headman said. “That Freshman All-American stuff is just great. If you can play a little bit and get on TV a couple of times they give you Freshman All-American. There ain’t no Sophomore All-American. There is just one team.”
Swinney wants to see Scott get on that one team, but first he has to grow and develop into a more complete wide receiver, in particular making plays down the field, before he can be called a true All-American.
Scott is more than capable of doing that. Against Georgia, he made a long catch down the sideline where he reached over a Georgia player to pull down a 30-yard pass. But after that most of Scott’s plays were made following slants, quick screens or on speed sweeps.
His longest play of the year came in games against Wake Forest, South Carolina and Oklahoma and they all came on speed sweeps.
“Obviously, he showed what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands,” Scott’s position coach and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “We wanted to challenge him to be a complete receiver, not just known as a guy that can catch a quick screen or a speed sweep and take it the distance, but can you develop and be a down the field receiver, a downfield threat?”
In other words, Jeff Scott and Swinney want to see Artavis Scott make plays like Sammy Watkins did during his three years at Clemson.
“That is something we have had in that position,” Jeff Scott said. “A guy like Sammy Watkins, obviously, did really well with the quick screens, but if they wanted to come up and get in his face, then you can go over the top with the deep balls.
“That is something Artavis has had to really develop and work on. He has stayed after practice and worked on that.”
Artavis Scott’s hard work paid off in the spring game when he out leaped cornerback Adrian Baker for a 20-yard touchdown. He later made a leaping catch over another defender for a 40-yard gain and finished the afternoon with four catches for 75 yards.
“I was really proud of him, even if he was on the other team,” said Jeff Scott, who called the plays for the Orange team on Saturday. “I was proud to see him go finish the nice catch because that was really one of the things we were working on with him all spring.”
Artavis Scott worked on high-pointing balls, holding lines, releases, route technique and finishing plays with body control when defenders are leaning on him.
“That’s what he needs to do and you saw that (in the spring game),” Swinney said. “It was great to see him have success today because that is going to help him mentally because he has worked really hard.
“He made some huge plays down the field and we have to have that from him.”
Swinney said doing those kinds of things weren’t much of a focus for Scott in 2014 because they were trying to just get him comfortable in the offense and get him going.
“We really need that other guy (who can get down field),” Swinney said.