Although Jeff Scott recently left Clemson to become the new head coach at South Florida, the former Tiger wide receivers coach left his replacement, Tyler Grisham, with a lot of talent to work with at the position.
Williams enrolled at the school in early January, while Ajou is expected to enroll this summer.
“I’m so excited about those guys, and I’m thankful for Coach Jeff Scott,” said Grisham, who was named Clemson’s new receivers coach shortly after Scott was hired by USF in December. “He’s the one that got them committed, and very thankful for him because he also talked to them about me. They had known me, but I think what Jeff did is he really allowed them to be comfortable by sharing who I am, my background, what kind of coach I’m going to be.
“So, I think he really kind of put the families at ease, and from then, I stepped in and really tried to strengthen those relationships and communicate with those families. So, I think they’re excited about me coaching their sons.”
Grisham was able to get his first in-person look at Williams during Clemson’s bowl practices in January and came away impressed by the 6-foot-3.5, 190-pound athlete.
Williams is a consensus top-130 national player from Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama. Over his last two years there, he recorded 84 catches for 1,407 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 16.8 yards per catch and a touchdown every 4.4 receptions in that span.
Based on what Williams has already shown in his short time on campus, Grisham believes he has a chance to make an instant impact for the Tigers in 2020.
“What he’s showed us on the field was eye-opening for me because I had never seen him live,” Grisham said. “Whenever we had youth camp and high school camp, I was always with the younger guys, so I never was with the juniors and seniors. Coach Swinney kind of put me in charge of those younger receivers on a different field. Jeff was in charge of the receivers for the upperclassmen, so I never saw E.J. perform.
“When he came in as a midyear – and again, they’re running around in shorts, T-shirts and helmets – he showed me that man, he’s got really good speed, better than I probably would have thought, and then his explosiveness and change of direction is really, really good for a 6-3 player. So, I’m really excited about him joining the receiving corps and I think he has potential to really contribute this year.”
Williams lost his father when he was 8 years old, but his mother has done a terrific job of raising a fine young man.
“Spending time with E.J. as a midyear, I’ll say this – he comes from a great family,” Grisham said. “His mom, Vontrelle, phenomenal woman. Spoke to her (recently) and she’s all upset about her boy going away, going off to college. But I reassured her and said listen, E.J., he’s already impressing people just as far as who he is. Very respectful, yes-sir, no-sir type of kid.”
Grisham is also really high on Ajou, the first ever Clemson football signee from Canada.
A native of Brooks, Alberta, Ajou moved to Florida last offseason to attend Clearwater Academy International in order to gain more exposure and garner attention from Division I football programs. He finished his first year of football in the U.S. with 39 catches for 686 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ajou is raw and has a lot to learn, having only played two years of high school football, one in the states and one in Canada. But the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is an amazing athlete who also played basketball and set a provincial high-jump record in Edmonton.
“Ajou is freaky talented,” Grisham said. “If you just look at him, he’s got really long arms, great length. If you watch his tape, great jumping ability, the ability to high point the ball and outjump a defender, make those contested plays. His run after the catch is phenomenal. So, I just can’t wait to get him here and start to work with him because he’s only played so much ball, and so there might be a little bit of a learning curve. But I fully expect him to get here, to take coaching, to be coachable and to really just skyrocket. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal player for us.”
While Ajou won’t arrive to Clemson until June, Grisham has been able to visit Ajou at his school with offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and they are planning to do an in-home visit with him as well.
“Ajou Ajou, I had a great time visiting with him along with Coach Elliott,” Grisham said. “We went to Clearwater Academy and got to spend some time with him there … We’re going to go visit them in Alberta, Tony and I, and hopefully the weather is not in sub-zero temperatures. That’s my hope. But excited about going to see them and meeting Ajou’s mom. Really excited about that.”
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