Ngata had ‘great spring’, high on confidence

Ngata had ‘great spring’, high on confidence

Football

Ngata had ‘great spring’, high on confidence

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Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata gained a lot of valuable experience as a true freshman last season, playing in 304 snaps across all 15 games.

The former five-star recruit recorded 17 receptions for 240 yards and caught a touchdown pass against Charlotte, Louisville and Wake Forest. His first career touchdown catch came vs. Charlotte on Sept. 21, when he led the Tigers in receptions (three) and receiving yards (62) that night.

Ngata, who also averaged 23.2 yards on 14 kickoff returns and shared special teams player of the game honors on a couple of occasions, feels good about the way he finished the year and hopes to take the next step as a sophomore in 2020.

“I thought I ended last year on a good note, so I’ve got a lot of confidence going into the season,” he said recently.

Ngata said he was working on “a little bit of everything” to improve his game during spring practice.

“Explosiveness, just catching the ball, finishing, trying to make big plays in practice so I can make them in the games,” he said.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney liked what he saw from Ngata during the nine spring practices the Tigers were able to get in before the ACC cancelled all athletic-related activities in the league, including all competition and practice through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

Swinney said Ngata had a “great spring” and was “very steady, very consistent.”

“Physically, he is pretty special, and mentally, he is caught up,” Swinney also said. “Technically and fundamentally, he has made a huge step. I’m pleased with him.”

Ngata worked at the 2-man (field) and 9-man (boundary) positions in spring practice and wants to be as versatile as possible so he can contribute wherever the Tigers need him.

“I’m really trying to learn all of it just to know it, just to know the concepts, be smarter and be ready for whatever happens,” he said.

Ngata was officially listed as Tee Higgins’ backup in 2019. With Higgins headed to the NFL, there is a big opportunity for Ngata to step into a more significant role this season and help fill the void, though he isn’t putting any unnecessary pressure on himself.

“I mean, nothing really changed from last season,” Ngata said. “My mindset hasn’t changed. I just want to be better than I was yesterday. The way I felt last year is the way I feel this year – just pick up on every opportunity and get better every day.”

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