After three seasons of sporadic playing time, sitting behind some talented wide receivers on Clemson’s depth chart, Diondre Overton admits there came a point this spring when he contemplated transferring and going somewhere else for his final season.
“There was a point in time, I was getting a little frustrated kind of sitting on the back end,” Overton said Monday following Clemson’s third practice of fall camp. “But I talked to my parents, kind of kept the faith and realized this is where I wanted to be. Competition’s going to be everywhere that I go, so I was just ready to take the next step, step up and just showcase my talent.”
Overton is probably glad he decided to stick around. With Amari Rodgers recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the spring, the senior Overton has been practicing with the first-team offense at the slot (5-man) position so far in fall camp.
Rodgers expects to be back at some point this season, but right now the Tigers have to prepare others to play for them in the slot, and Overton appears to be ahead of Cornell Powell and T.J. Chase in the competition for that starting spot.
“Amari’s a great teammate, great player,” Overton said. “He’s been with me every step of the way, encouraged me to get in the playbook. He’s a leader on this team even though he’s one of the younger guys, so he’s still a veteran. I’m praying for the best for Amari, but we’re definitely going to live up to the standard, next man up.”
Overton enters the 2019 season with 30 career receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns in 36 career games but has never started a game. As a junior in 2018, the native of Greensboro, N.C., recorded 14 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns in 252 snaps over 14 games.
This offseason, the former top-150 national recruit realized that he needed to step up his game and work ethic if he wanted to carve out a bigger role in his last season of college football.
Overton reported to camp at 213 pounds, eight pounds heavier than he was when spring practice ended April 6.
“Mainly in the offseason, I definitely started to take it a little more serious,” he said. “Realized that I had to put more weight on, get faster, work on my routes. I just kind of realized it’s my last year, so I’ve got to give it my all.”
Previously a boundary (9-man) receiver for the Tigers, Overton moved over to the slot following Rodgers’ knee injury in March and spent the final two weeks of spring practice learning the position — and he has taken a liking to it.
“It’s not that I don’t like playing on the outside, but the slot, it shows that you’re versatile,” he said. “You kind of get the ball third downs and stuff like that, opportunities to make big plays, big catches in the long stretch.”
With aspirations of making it to the NFL, Overton is treating this as a “money year” and hopes to make the most of his final go-round at Clemson.
“This is definitely a money year. This is my last year,” he said. “I didn’t redshirt my freshman year, so it’s all business here on out. Got to treat it like business, so got to have the right mindset.”