Freshman continues to wow Swinney, coaches with his abilities
When asked Monday night which freshmen he thought would avoid a redshirt this coming season, Dabo Swinney did not hesitate with his answer.
“Ngata! For sure! Fo sho,” Clemson’s head coach said confidently.
Joseph Ngata, along with defensive tackle Tyler Davis, has been some of the consistent talk from Swinney and most of the coaches since the spring. The freshman wide receiver from Folsom, California has not only wowed the coaching staff with his physical size (6-4, 218), but also with his ability and knowledge of the game. They’re already trying to find different ways to get him on the field with Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Diondre Overton.
Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott announced after last Saturday’s scrimmage that Ngata was now playing the boundary and the field positions for the Tigers.
“He is just continuing the get better,” Scott said. “He is a guy that we have moved around from the boundary position and the field position. He has done a pretty good job of picking that up.”
Scott continued by saying Ngata is doing excellent for himself. A lot of the media is trying to compare his potential as a freshman to what Ross did last year in leading the Tigers with 1,000 receiving yards and a 21.7 yards per catch average.
“It is very hard to say,” Scott explained. “I like to give Ross a hard time when one of those freshmen have a missed assignment. Maybe they run the wrong route or something like that, I like to reinforce with them that ‘Hey, you have to know what to do a hundred percent of the time to play.’
“So anytime (Frank) Ladson or Ngata, which is not a whole lot, but anytime they make a mistake on an assignment, I look over there at Justyn and say, ‘How many plays did you play against Texas A&M?’ He says, ‘One!’ I say, ‘Okay!’ He ended up being our leading receiver for the whole season.”
Scott says for Ngata to be an every-down receiver, he has to know exactly what they are doing and have to be counted on.
“One missed assignment can lead to a pick-six going the other way and it is hard to recover when you play good teams,” Clemson’s wide receivers coach said. “With that being said, Ngata, Ladson and (Brannon) Spector I think have done a great job of really learning the offense and picking it up. I think the fact that they were here in the spring really helped them as well.”