Clemson hopes Ladson’s confidence pays off on the field

Clemson hopes Ladson’s confidence pays off on the field

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Clemson hopes Ladson’s confidence pays off on the field

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Frank Ladson’s walk tells you all you need to know about Clemson’s sophomore wide receiver.

“The way he walks around the building now, he’s got his head up, he’s got his chest out and he’ll engage more,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.

That was not the case last year, when the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout was trying to learn and absorb as much of the offense as he could.

“He was really quiet just because he was trying to figure things out, but now we got a little thing where me and him will joke back and forth, and I can just tell that his confidence is building,” Elliott said. “So, we’re going to need that, because you’re going to need all those guys to be ready to go.”

They are definitely going to need Ladson ready with the news Justyn Ross is done for the season after having surgery on his spine and back. Ladson will likely start fall camp as the starter on the field side and will probably share responsibilities on the boundary side as well.

Ladson feels like a much different player heading into the 2020 season than he was in 2019, when he hauled in nine passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’m more physical, stronger, faster, my hands are a lot stronger,” he said. “So, I feel like I took some big steps since last season.”

Typical for a freshman, it took time for Ladson to learn the playbook and offensive system last year. But now that he is familiar with the offense, the fast-paced tempo of Clemson’s practices wasn’t as difficult for him to handle this spring.

“That’s one thing that hit me my first spring practice as a freshman, how fast practice was going, how much you install — every day, we’re installing plays,” he said. “So, that’s one thing. It’s just a lot to take in, but this spring I’ve gone through it, got the hang of it, know how to take care of everything.”

Ladson is known amongst his coaches and teammates as being one of the fastest players in Clemson’s receiving corps. His speed and deep-threat ability, to go with his frame, has earned him comparisons to a couple of former Tiger standouts.

“With Frank, he’s a guy that just in our building, has drawn some comparisons to Martavis Bryant just because he’s so big and so fast,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy that’s got that Sammy (Watkins) type of explosiveness — maybe not quite Sammy, but he’s got some really good explosiveness and then he’s got some jets.”

Gavin Oliver contributed to this story

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