With Tony Elliott’s courtship with Tennessee over, Clemson’s offensive coordinator can now focus more on his new role within the coaching staff as the Tigers’ new tight ends coach.
Head coach Dabo Swinney moved Elliott from running backs coach, where he has coached since returning to Clemson in 2011, to tight ends coach after Danny Pearman was given a new scouting/transfer portal evaluator role.
Elliott inherits an experienced group that potentially has a lot of talent and depth. Clemson likes to run a lot of 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends), and will also bring in a third tight end or an H-back, in short-yardage or goal line situations.
Braden Galloway and Davis Allen return as the Tigers most experienced tight ends. With Elliott’s ability to get the best out of his players, this can be a good marriage for Clemson in 2021.
Remember, Elliott has coached four All-ACC running backs in Andre Ellington, Roderick McDowell, Wayne Gallman and Travis Etienne. Gallman and Etienne both rushed for more than 1,500 yards in a season, with Etienne going over 1,600 yards twice in his career.
Etienne just left Clemson as a two-time All-American, two-time ACC Player of the Year and set ACC records for career rushing yards, scoring, total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He also holds the conference’s single season record for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.
Knowing what Elliott did coaching the running backs, imagine what the former wide receiver can do coaching up the tight ends.
Braden Galloway, Sr., 6-4, 240: Galloway has 34 catches in his career for 481 yards and three touchdowns. He has played in 26 games thus far, including starting every game in 2020. The Seneca High School product posses the ability to be as good as any tight end in the country. He is athletic, long and fast. He runs exceptional routes and has really improved as a blocker in both the running game and in pass protection. Last year, Galloway caught 27 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns. He earned All-ACC Academic honors, as well.
Davis Allen, Jr., 6-6, 250: Allen is a reliable receiver and physical blocker who enters 2021 with 21 career catches for 300 yards and four touchdowns, while playing in 27 games. He has one start to his credit. He recorded 247 yards and four touchdowns on 16 receptions in 12 games last season, becoming the sixth Clemson tight end under Dabo Swinney to catch four or more touchdowns in a season, joining Michael Palmer (four in 2009), Dwayne Allen (eight in 2011), Brandon Ford (eight in 2012), Stanton Seckinger (four in 2013) and Jordan Leggett (eight in 2015 and seven in 2016).
Jaelyn Lay, *So., 6-6, 270: Lay was used mostly as a blocking tight end when he played, though he played in all 12 games in 2020. In his 16 career games, he has caught two passes and coincidentally both came against Georgia Tech. The first was a 20-yard gain in his college debut in the season opener of 2019, while he had a 5-yard catch against the Yellow Jackets.
Sage Ennis, *Fr., 6-4, 235: Played in just four games last season, in large part due to injury. A hybrid tight end, Ennis is both a physical blocker and a receiving threat with good hands and route-running ability that can be a mismatch against linebackers and safeties. He has the versatility to line up attached to the tackle on the line of scrimmage or split out wide. Ennis’s big body and ability to high point the football and grab contested catches should make him a desirable target in the red zone.
Jake Briningstool, Fr., 6-6, 220: Selected for the Under Armour All-America Game. He had 39 receptions for 774 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2020. Briningstool is an attractive target as a receiving tight end and has a wide catch radius and dependable hands to help him bring balls in. He fits the mold of a Jordan Leggett, and the Tigers hope he will develop into that type of playmaker in the passing game. Briningstool has also drawn comparisons to former Clemson tight end Brandon Ford, who was a first-team All-ACC performer in 2012, because of their similar length and catch radius.