Higgins goes from ‘Wide Receiver U’ to another proud tradition in Cincinnati

Higgins goes from ‘Wide Receiver U’ to another proud tradition in Cincinnati


Higgins goes from ‘Wide Receiver U’ to another proud tradition in Cincinnati


Tee Higgins comes from a long line of talented wide receivers at Clemson. He carried on the tradition in Tigertown by tying Deandre Hopkins’ all-time touchdown record, which is also shared by another Clemson great, Sammy Watkins.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver carried on the tradition of Wide Receiver U when he was selected No. 33 overall in last week’s NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Higgins is the 10th Clemson receiver selected in the NFL Draft since 2010.

Guys like Hopkins and Watkins have had a lot of success in the NFL. Hopkins has earned four straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors and is considered one of the top three receivers in the league. Watkins just helped the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV, where the former Clemson receiver caught the pass that set up the Chiefs’ winning touchdown.

Then there is Hunter Renfrow, who is a rising star for the Las Vegas Raiders after having a solid rookie season in 2019. Jaron Brown has had a solid NFL career since coming into the league in 2013 and Martavis Bryant had three really good years with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, you can even go further back when Jerry Butler and Dwight Clark were Pro Bowl receivers before Hopkins. Clark was even the NFC Player of the Year one season and won two Super Bowls as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bengals are banking on Higgins’ Clemson pedigree to help carry on their own wide receiver tradition in Cincinnati, where guys like Chris Collinsworth, Chad Johnson and A.J. Green have been All-Pro and Pro Bowl players.

The coaching staff at Cincinnati has even compared Higgins to Green, and that is why he was such an attractive prospect.

“It’s amazing what one draft can do. It can change everything. I think this one did,” Johnson said Monday on Bengals.com. “Tee is a lot like A.J., yeah, I agree. Same body. He’s big. He goes up and gets the high ball better than I did and he’s a better route runner than he gets credit for.

“Defenses are going to get tired trying to cover two tall guys like that. Then you’ve got John Ross running around and Tyler Boyd in the middle of the field. I’m excited.”

Higgins is excited, too. First of all, he is getting to play with his idol in Green and secondly the Bengals have given him No. 85, which was worn by his other idol … Johnson. In case you did not know, Higgins grew up a Cincinnati Bengals fan.

“I can’t wait to put that number on,’ Higgins said. “Keep the tradition going.”

Johnson is excited Higgins is wearing his old number, too.

“An honor. An honor for me for him to wear 85,” the former Bengal said.

According to Bengals.com, the No. 85 jersey is a big deal in Cincinnati. Isaac Curtis began the tradition. Tim McGee went to a Super Bowl and Tyler Eifert went to a Pro Bowl wearing it. Then there is Johnson, who is the Bengals’ all-time leading receiver.

So, Higgins will be wearing Johnson’s No. 85 and physically he looks and plays a lot like A.J. Green. If he turns out to have the kind of career they both have had, the Bengals’ wide receiver tradition will carry on for another decade.

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