In the current college football landscape, where players often place their names in the NCAA transfer portal when things aren’t going their way at a school, Diondre Overton made the choice to stick it out at Clemson.
After a lot of hard work and patience, Overton saw that decision pay off on Saturday, when the senior wide receiver exploded for a career-high 119 yards on three receptions for a school-record-tying three touchdown catches in the Tigers’ 59-7 win over Boston College at Death Valley.
“I think it’s a great message,” co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jeff Scott said of Overton’s breakout game. “It’s easy this day and age to jump in the portal if you’re not starting or not getting the opportunities that you want, and I think this is a pretty awesome example of a guy being rewarded for sticking it out and really working hard to improve and make the most of the opportunities that he got, and he did that today.”
It was Overton’s first career 100-yard receiving game, surpassing his previous career high of 75 yards set against Florida State last season.
For his performance, Overton earned the Leather Helmet Award, presented annually by the Boston College Gridiron Club to the most valuable player of the Clemson-Boston College game.
“Like I told my team, it’s been a long time coming,” Overton said. “There’s been times where I could have transferred, could have left, could have let my team down. But I kept the faith, and I’m just glad that it’s all working out and showing right now.”
Overton recorded a 22-yard touchdown reception from Trevor Lawrence in the first quarter – his first touchdown catch since Oct. 7, 2018, at Wake Forest – before adding his second touchdown of the night on a career-long 63-yard reception in the third quarter, giving him the first multi-touchdown game of his career.
The native of Greensboro, North Carolina, scored his third touchdown of the contest on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Chase Brice in the fourth quarter.
“It was awesome because that’s a guy that just goes to work every day,” Lawrence said of Overton. “He’s been here – this is his fourth year – and maybe he hasn’t gotten as much attention, as much catches and stats as some of the other guys. So, he’s had opportunities to leave and go play somewhere else, and just to see him stick it out and just knowing him as a person, he’s a great person and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Overton notched the seventh three-touchdown receiving performance in school history, matching Dreher Gaskin (vs. Auburn on Nov. 21, 1953), Tony Horne (vs. Texas-El Paso on Oct. 4, 1997), Rod Gardner (vs. North Carolina on Oct. 21, 2000), DeAndre Hopkins (vs. Ball State on Sept. 8, 2012, and vs. Duke on Nov. 3, 2012) and Mike Williams (vs. South Carolina on Nov. 28, 2016) for the school record in single-game touchdown receptions.
The former four-star prospect entered the 2019 season with just 30 career receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns in 36 games over the past three seasons.
Overton could have ditched Clemson to finish his career with another team, and many players in his position probably would have. But at the end of the day, he didn’t want to abandon his teammates or be anywhere else.
“I just felt it in my mind that there wasn’t going to be any other place like this,” he said. “I know this was the best decision for me and didn’t want to see myself anywhere else. So, just kept the faith and stayed down that path.”
“All I can tell you is it’s just been patience,” he later added. “Just having that faith and having that conversation with God every day and just knowing that my time’s going to come eventually.”
Overton admits he contemplated the thought of transferring and discussed the possibility with his parents. However, it was a conversation he had with Scott shortly after fall camp that persuaded him to stay put.
“We had a one-on-one meeting, he just kept it real with me,” Overton said. “He told me the type of player I am, he told me I could help this team. So, I appreciate him keeping it honest with me.
“That’s really what kept me here. He showed me that he had faith in me.”
Overton hopes his game against Boston College on Saturday night serves as an example of why others considering a transfer should think about sticking it out.
“I would hope that my performance and my grinding just gives them hope,” he said, “just seeing that there is a way that sometimes it will all work out in your favor – just have to be patient, stay the course, and God has a plan for you.”
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