When Dabo Swinney describes his players, the one thing he likes to tell is that he has no divas on his team. Tee Higgins is definitely not a diva.
The Clemson wide receiver exceled under Swinney’s tutelage and worked his tail off. His hard worked paid off Friday night with the first pick in Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati Bengals took Higgins with 33rd overall pick, the first pick of the second round.
“The thing I love about Tee Higgins is that he has all of the physical ability, the hype and when you talk to Dabo Swinney and those guys, he talks about no Divas. He is a mama’s boy. He just wants to play ball and he just wants to work,” ESPN’s David Pollack said on the ABC broadcast of the draft soon after the Higgins pick.
Higgins ended his Clemson career as one of the top receivers in the program’s history, catching 135 passes for 2,448 yards, while tying the school’s all-time touchdown reception mark with 27. In all, he played in 43 games with 30 starts in his three-season career.
“Tee Higgins is as complete a receiver as we’ve had come out of Clemson,” Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney said in a release Saturday morning. “I think he’s in the same category as [Mike] Williams when it comes to being a complete receiver and you’re talking about size, speed, athleticism, catch radius, ball skills, ability to lean on people, body control and all of those type of things.
“He’s as complete a receiver as we’ve had come out of here. Tee is a great kid and a Day One starter.”
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who like Higgins is a Bengals fan, likes the passion Higgins plays with an is excited to see how he pairs up with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who the Bengals took with the first overall pick in the draft on Thursday night.
“He has everything that you would hope for if you are Joe Burrow,” Herbstreit said on ABC. “You want a No. 1 target that can go up and make plays, the way those LSU receivers did. You got a guy that can go up and do that and get separation. He has great speed to get away from those slower corners and go up and make plays.”
Higgins was the 10th wide receiver in Swinney’s head coaching tenure to be drafted into the NFL. He was the 14th Clemson wide receiver under Swinney’s guidance to be drafted including Swinney’s stint as wide receivers’ coach from 2003-’08.
The Oak Ridge, Tenn., native was also Clemson’s ninth draft pick at wide receiver since 2013. Clemson’s eight previous selections at wide receiver from across the 2013-19 NFL Drafts were tied for the most in the country.
“Tee is a consistently hard-working young man. For a high-profile guy and just a naturally talented player, it comes easy to him, but he doesn’t rest on his laurels and wants to improve every day,” Clemson wide receivers’ coach Tyler Grisham said. “He’s a great practice player, which shows up on game day.
“Being so tall, he can win on jump balls. Having a basketball background, he’s able to time up those jump balls well, but for being a tall guy, he runs routes like he’s a 5’10” or 6’0” guy and has great top-end speed. His ability to get in and out of his breaks with ease is uncommon for a 6’4” receiver. He has phenomenal hands, but what gets overlooked is his toughness and strength. He was one of our best blockers because he has the tools and he cares and has the ‘want-to’ to do his job and help his teammates out.”
Higgins extended Clemson’s school-record for the number of consecutive drafts with a wide receiver selected to five. It is presently the nation’s longest active streak. He also gave Clemson at least one receiver selected in seven of the last eight NFL Drafts, dating back to Deandre Hopkins’ selection in 2013.
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