There is a perception out there where Justyn Ross is expected to carry the load for Clemson at wide receiver.
However, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott says that is not the case. He says the Tigers’ depth at wide receiver and tight end is as good as it ever has been and he expects having so many players surrounding their star receiver will make things easier for Ross, not harder.
Besides Ross, Clemson returns experienced players in Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson and E.J. Williams. They also bring back Ajou Ajou, who the coaches think is ready to take the next step in his progression and brought in talented freshmen Beaux Collins and Dacari Collins.
“So, that is a ton of depth. All of those (veteran) guys have played. They are experienced,” Elliott said on the Packer & Durham Show earlier this week. “Then you throw in E.J., Ajou has made more strides and then these two freshmen that we signed are going to be phenomenal.
“So, we feel really good about the competitive depth at wide receiver.”
Elliott feels some people, who maybe have not studied the team enough, do not realize what they have in players like Ngata and Ladson. Both suffered setbacks from an injury standpoint last year, but the Clemson coach feels they are poised to a have breakout season in 2021.
“Do not forget about Joseph Ngata. You did not see him much last year just because of injuries, but he is that big body that we are used to seeing into the boundary,” Elliott said. “You got Ladson coming back, who was a guy that was versatile. He can play into the boundary. He can play in the field. Ross can play into the boundary. Ross can play the slot. Ross can play the field. And then the emergence of E.J. What you saw him do, especially in the [ACC] championship game and down the stretch in the postseason.
“The perception may be Ross has to carry the load. We understand where he is going to be coming back, so we are not going to put that pressure on him, just kind of let him get back to playing shape as he goes forward. But he has a lot for a supporting cast.”
The tight ends are included in that supporting cast. Clemson’s tight ends last year were productive in 2020, the most production the program has seen from the position since Jordan Leggett’s last season in 2016.
Braden Galloway and Davis Allen emerged as playmakers last year, and along with Jaelyn Lay and a couple of freshmen in Sage Ennis and Jake Briningstool, Elliott expects the position to produce even more in 2021.
“I think what is really going to help (Ross), the receivers and the run game is the emergence of the tight ends. We have some really, really good tight ends that kind of jumped on the scene last year,” Elliott said. “You saw a lot more production out of the tight ends in Braden and Davis. Then we have some younger guys in Sage and Briningstool. You got Jaelyn Lay. You have a talented group that is going to be able to take a little bit of pressure off the receivers and create a little one-on-one matchups that we like to see.”
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