GREENVILLE, S.C. — There is a reason why Tee Higgins feels like he is at home in Cincinnati. Because these days the City of Seven Hills feels a lot like Clemson. And it is not the hills.
Besides Higgins, Cincinnati has a good number of former Tigers on the roster and on the coaching staff. Higgins and defensive tackle D.J. Reader played together last season, while former Clemson left tackle Jackson Carman was drafted No. 46 overall by the Bengals in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft last month.
The Bengals also have former Clemson defensive ends coach Marion Hobby coaching the defensive line. There are so many Tigers in the organization, some are calling Cincinnati, “Clemson North.” Even the nickname is a Tiger.
“You can say that,” Higgins said before he and Isaiah Simmons hosted their football camp Saturday at the Kroc Center in Greenville. “I did not really (play for) Coach Hobby when he was there. I was not there when he was there.”
Hobby coached at Clemson twice. He coached the Tigers in 2005 under Tommy Bowden and then again from 2011-’16 for Dabo Swinney. Higgins’ freshman season at Clemson was in 2017.
“Just knowing he coached at Clemson … it is family,” Higgins said. “You got me, Coach Hobby, Jackson, D.J., like you said, I feel at home as well.”
It also helps that Higgins found his place quickly with the Bengals. In his first year in the league, Higgins caught 67 passes for 908 yards to lead the Bengals. He also caught six touchdown passes.
Higgins also likes playing with quarterback Joe Burrow, who beat Higgins and the Tigers in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game for LSU. Cincinnati drafted Burrow No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Not too many receivers can say they have played with two No. 1 overall picks in an NFL Draft. But Higgins is one of them, having played with and won a national championship with Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Lawrence, of course, was selected No. 1 overall by Jacksonville in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“(Burrow) is a great guy,” Higgins said. “He is all about his business. He made me a better player. That is all you can ask for, just to make me a better player.”
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