Last year at this time, nobody from a national perspective was talking about Cornell Powell, but the Clemson receiver nonetheless burst onto the scene with a breakout season in 2020 and gave himself a legitimate shot to be selected on Day 2 or 3 of April’s NFL Draft.
Now, as he prepares to move on to the next level, Powell feels there is another player in Clemson’s receiving corps who might not be getting much attention right now but will generate plenty of buzz in 2021 and be a guy that everyone knows about by this time next year.
“I would say a standout freshman, E.J. Williams, how he came onto the scene,” Powell said following his Pro Day workout Thursday at Clemson’s Poe Indoor Practice Facility.
Williams showed glimpses of what he can do as a true freshman in 2020 when the Tigers were thin at receiver, with Justyn Ross out for the season and Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata battling various injuries.
A former four-star prospect from the same high school as Ross – Central High in Phenix City, Ala. – Williams came on strong down the stretch last season and finished his freshman campaign with 24 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns over 12 games.
Williams posted career highs with four receptions for 80 yards in the ACC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame, including a 33-yard touchdown catch and a highlight-reel one-handed grab.
“We were depleted at receiver, went down with a lot of injuries, and he just stepped right up,” Powell said. “True freshman, he made some big-time plays in the ACC Championship, everything – the whole year. So, I think he’s going to have another standout year and just keep improving.”
Williams isn’t the only young and talented Clemson wideout who has a chance to turn heads in 2021.
Former Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers believes rising sophomore Ajou Ajou is another player Tiger fans need to keep a close eye on this coming season.
“Be on the lookout for him, for sure,” Rodgers said following Clemson’s Pro Day.
A Canada native chock full of potential, Ajou hauled in a touchdown pass during Clemson’s scrimmage on Wednesday and enters 2021 with two career catches for 41 yards and a touchdown across 10 games.
“He’s very tall and long,” Rodgers said. “He’s strong. He’s gotten a lot stronger since he’s gotten here. He’s up to 230 right now, so he’s a monster. He’s fast, long, so whenever you throw the ball up to him, he’s coming down with it, too. I was at the scrimmage yesterday and he had a nice snag in the end zone and he scored. He’s been having a great spring, so if he just continues to grind and run with it, he’s going to have a great season.”
Rising sophomore Kobe Pace is another youngster Clemson fans should watch out for next season, according to former Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
“I feel like Kobe Pace, he’s a great running back,” Etienne said after his Pro Day workout. “I feel like him and Lyn-J (Dixon), just the whole running back group – any one of those guys, I don’t feel like they’re getting enough coverage, and I feel that any one of those guys can come out and have an amazing year and just really showcase themselves.
“So, really the whole running back group, any of the running backs really have that opportunity. Whichever one takes advantage of their reps in practice, I feel like it’s going to translate to the game and they’re going to have a big year.”
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