Just because Diondre Overton came out as the first guy in Clemson’s slot position at wide receiver on Friday, it doesn’t mean Cornell Powell is out of the picture for winning the starting job.
When Amari Rodgers went down with a torn ACL during spring practice, Powell moved up and got a lot of work with the first-team offense. When the spring ended, he appeared to be the frontrunner to replace Rodgers while he rehabbed.
But as the Tigers opened fall camp on Friday, it was Overton, not Powell, who went out with the first group of receivers. Powell and T.J. Chase shared the second-team reps.
However, don’t read into everything just yet.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott stressed the competition is far from over and he likes where Powell is at both mentally and physically following a redshirt season last year.
“I think Cornell, he has been patient. It is all about how you respond,” Scott said. “Kind of sitting back and having to watch was kind of difficult for him, but he used that time wisely. He really worked hard last year.
“He bought in on going over on the scout team and giving those guys a look. Cornell had a really good day today. He ran some good routes, caught the ball very well.”
Powell redshirted last year, as a junior, after the fourth game. In those four games, he caught five passes for 63 yards. He also led the Tigers and the ACC at the time with a 29.2-yard average on kickoff returns.
Powell, Chase and Overton are expected to be in a tight competition throughout camp to see who will start in the place of Rodgers in the slot. It’s a good competition because all three players are entering their fourth season at Clemson and all three are hungry to succeed.
“He is another guy … Cornell, T.J. Chase and Diondre Overton are three guys that have been around here and working and are getting ready to earn some time and earn some opportunities. I am pleased with what they have done so far,” Scott said.
Scott also confirmed Powell will be helping with kickoff returns again this season. He is averaging 26.0 yards per return in his career. He also has 25 career catches for 207 yards and one touchdown at wide receiver.