Clemson bills its program as “Wide Receiver U,” because of its tradition of acquiring top prospects at the position and producing NFL receivers.
The Tigers have a wealth of talent in their receiving corps right now, and the rich are getting richer.
Clemson signed two five-star wide receivers in its 2018 recruiting class, Justyn Ross and Derion Kendrick.
Ross is ranked as the No. 1 player from the state of Alabama, while Kendrick is the top-ranked player from South Carolina. Both are ranked among the top 30 prospects in the country by Rivals.
“The top two (wide receivers) that we targeted, we got,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “The number one player in this state, and the number one player in the state of Alabama, which is also a first in my career. So, I’m just really excited about that.”
As for Ross, Swinney said the Phenix City, Ala., native reminds him of former Clemson receiver Mike Williams — the Tigers’ latest first-round NFL draft pick at the position.
Williams was drafted No. 7 overall by the Los Angeles Chargers last April after recording the third most receiving touchdowns and fourth most receiving yards in Clemson history.
“Justyn is a full-grown man,” Swinney said. “He’s big, fast… I don’t know what his vertical is, but it’s way up there, and he’s got freaky ball skills.
“He’s a guy, he’s in that Mike Williams mode, but an older version of Mike Williams, not the younger version of Mike Williams coming in. He’s got a very mature body for this stage.”
Ross (6-4, 201) finished his senior year with 37 receptions for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also contributed 14 punt returns for 383 yards and two more scores while helping lead Central High School to a 12-1 record and appearance in the Class 7A state semifinals.
The nation’s No. 2 wide receiver per Rivals, Ross was a first-team all-state selection in 2017 and finalist for the Mr. Football Award in Alabama.
“He played in a great program, he’s been well coached, so I think he has just got a great foundation coming in,” Swinney said. “But he’s got everything you want. He can play the 9-man, he can play the 5-man for us. He’s got the strength, explosiveness, athleticism, ball skills and toughness to be an outstanding player.”
Swinney and the Tigers managed to beat out both Alabama and Auburn for the state of Alabama’s top prospect, another testament to Clemson’s elite status as a program.
On National Signing Day last Wednesday, Ross became the first No. 1-ranked player from the state of Alabama to sign with the Tigers, and just the second top-ranked player from the state who did not sign with Alabama since 2005.
“Justyn, I felt like for a long time was coming,” Swinney said. “I’ve recruited the state of Alabama forever. When I was coaching at Alabama, it was hard to sign players out of that state — even when you’re there, much less to come in out of state.
“We’ve signed some good players from Alabama, but that just again shows you were we are as a program.”