Clemson’s production at the tight end position, at least in terms of catches and yards, has been limited over the last few seasons since Jordan Leggett, one of the best tight ends in program history, departed for the NFL.
In 2015 and 2016, Leggett totaled 86 receptions for 1,261 yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 14.6 yards per catch. In the three seasons since the former All-American moved on to the league, eight Clemson tight ends have combined to catch just 66 passes for 656 yards and four touchdowns, averaging a pedestrian 9.9 yards per reception.
Looking ahead, can Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood four-star tight end Jake Briningstool become the big, Leggett-type playmaker the Tigers have been missing since he left? That’s what they are hoping.
Clemson’s staff has told Briningstool, the top-ranked tight end in the 2021 class who committed to the Tigers in January, they envision using him much like they did Leggett.
“When we were on our visit, they showed a bunch of cut-ups of Jordan Leggett of how they use him running down the field as a vertical threat, being versatile, being able to line up on the line and block for the run game as well as line up outside and catch passes and run for the pass game,” Briningstool told The Clemson Insider.
“So, their big thing is just versatility and having a tight end that can stretch the field out in the pass game because right now they said they’re kind of short on that.”
Briningstool is 6-foot-6, an inch taller than Leggett is according to NFL.com, but has a more slender build. Whereas Leggett was listed at 235 pounds as a college freshman, Briningstool is currently 220 pounds, though he has the frame to get bigger physically and plans to add some weight before he arrives to Clemson as an early enrollee in January following his upcoming senior season.
“I want to try to play the season around 225, and then when the season’s over, I’m going to try and go to Clemson around 225, 230ish,” he said. “Hopefully I can gain that, keep that throughout the season and then graduate with that.”
As a junior in 2019, Briningstool hauled in 49 receptions for 863 yards and nine touchdowns.
Briningstool’s size, catch radius and reliable hands make him a desirable target in the passing game, and similar to Leggett, he possesses the necessary speed and athleticism to stretch the field and cause mismatches for defenders over the middle. He is also a willing, physical blocker and embraces that aspect of the position as evidenced by the 102 knockdown blocks he tallied last season.
“I think most people have described me as a pass-catching, versatile tight end who can also get in on the line of scrimmage and block as well as split out wide or H-back,” he said.
As he gets ready for his final high school campaign before joining Clemson, Briningstool is focused on improving all-around as a tight end.
“I would say the two biggest things I’m working on would be my releases off the ball,” he said, “and then I keep on trying to get faster and work on my blocking and just try and make my game the best it can be before I go there.”
Briningstool is the No. 1 tight end in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, which tabs him as the No. 72 overall prospect in the 2021 class.
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