Clemson is as deep, dynamic as ever at wide receiver

Clemson is as deep, dynamic as ever at wide receiver

Football

Clemson is as deep, dynamic as ever at wide receiver

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A look at Clemson’s 2021 projected WR depth chart heading into fall camp

Clemson likes to cross train most of its wide receivers, especially its older ones, at all three positions.

For instance, Justyn Ross is likely to start as the Tigers’ slot receiver, as head coach Dabo Swinney reported back in the spring, but he can also play the boundary and field positions if need be.

E.J. Williams showed last year he is a versatile player, as he lined up in the slot and in the field. In the spring the sophomore cross trained at all three positions as well. Frank Ladson is another who can play all three positions.

With Ross expected to back after missing all of last season following spinal surgery, Clemson should be very dynamic at the wide receiver positions. Joseph Ngata, who missed most of last season due to injury, is expected to be back to full strength as well, as he can play both the boundary and the field positions.

Ajou Ajou is coming off a very good spring and he is expected to be in the mix. Another versatile athlete is Brannon Spector, who can play the slot and the field positions.

The Tigers also have he services of freshmen Beaux and Dacari Collins. And, no, they are not related. They both had solid springs and Swinney thinks they both can help this coming season.

Justyn Ross, *Jr., 6-4, 205: Ross missed all of the 2020 season after undergoing spinal surgery in June of 2020. There was a time when some wondered if the honorable mention All-ACC wide receiver was even going to have the opportunity to play football again. Ross visited his doctors in Pittsburgh in early June to get final clearance. There has been no official word on how that meeting went and if Ross was given the green light to participate in tackling drills. He did participate in non-tackling drills in the spring. In the meantime, Clemson is looking forward to Ross’ return, as it possibly gets back a legitimate gamebreaker at wide receiver. Ross will likely start in the slot, but he can play the boundary and the field positions, too. Look for Clemson to line him up where they can create favorable matchups.

Joseph Ngata, Jr., 6-3, 220: Ngata enters 2021 credited with 24 receptions for 323 yards and three receiving touchdowns while playing in 22 games, including three starts in his career. He missed five games in 2020 due to abdomen issue he suffered in the season opener. The injury stuck with him all season and he finally had surgery in November. He missed the last four games of the season. He caught seven passes for 83 yards in the seven games he played in. Though he still was not hundred percent, according to Swinney, the junior had a very good spring, which he closed with six catches for 83 yards in the Spring Game. He likely will start the season as the Tigers’ starter at the boundary position.

E.J. Williams, So., 6-3, 190: Williams, who played with Justyn Ross in high school, emerged as a playmaker late in the 2020 campaign and is a legit All-ACC caliber player. Williams finished the season with 24 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Williams really came on down the stretch. He had three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ win over Pitt, while he grabbed a career-high four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game. He continued his progression with a very productive spring and is expected to challenge for the starting spot at the field position when camp gets started next month.

Frank Ladson, Jr., 6-3, 205: Ladson is expected to be at full strength after suffering through a season of nagging injuries in 2020. He is a deep threat that can play any of the Tigers’ three positions. He will enter 2021 with 27 career receptions for 409 yards and six touchdowns. He has played in 25 games in his career, including four starts. Last season, a foot injury sidelined him for a couple of games and caused him to sit early in a few others after limited action. He still caught 18 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

Brannon Spector, *So., 6-1, 195: The brother of current linebacker Baylon, Spector played in 11 games last season, including one start, while hauling in 16 passes for 136 yards. His best game came against Virginia, as he caught four passes for 32 yards. Spector is faster and more athletic than Renfrow. He runs clean routes and has good hands. He spent much of last season playing behind Rodgers. This year, look for him to rotate at the slot and the field positions a lot.

Ajou Ajou, *Fr., 6-3, 215: A native of Canada, Ajou showed off his potential against Georgia Tech last years when he had a 35-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. He broke seven tackles on his way to the end zone on the play. He also caught a long pass down the sideline, which was overturned due to a replay. He played in 10 games overall, while catching two passes for 41 yards. He closed out a very productive spring by catching six passes on 11 targets for a game-high 102 yards, including a touchdown, in the spring game.

Beaux Collins, Fr., 6-3, 195: Collins will fit right in with Clemson’s receiving corps as another big, long athlete. Strong and physical, Collins can climb the ladder and make contested catches in jump-ball situations. He is an effective route-runner and a smooth runner in general with good long speed. Overall, his combination of size, speed and athleticism makes him a matchup nightmare for many opposing defenders. Collins is one of three receivers that Clemson signed during the December early signing period, along with Dacari Collins and Troy Stellato. The trio will try to provide a boost to the Tigers’ receiving corps.

Dacari Collins, Fr., 6-4, 200: Collins will give the Tigers yet another big, long and athletic wideout. He wants to stay at that playing weight in order to maintain his speed. As a receiver, Collins is good at getting out of breaks with his quickness and agility and uses his speed to stretch the field vertically. He runs with long strides and is a smooth, fluid runner, while he is dependable as a pass catcher with soft hands and has a wide catch radius. He can reach out and snag passes over the shoulder and has the ability to go up and come down with 50-50 balls as well. His big body and ball skills should make him a threat in the red zone. Collins fits the mold of a typical Clemson receiver with his size and skillset and has the tools to be another big-time weapon for “Wide Receiver U” in the future.

Troy Stellato, Fr., 6-1, 175: Stellato enrolled at Clemson last month. He posted 26 receptions for 325 yards and five scores in the first six games of his pandemic-shortened senior season at Cardinal Gibbons High (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) in 2020. The consensus national top-300 player, according to the major recruiting services, racked up 112 career receptions for 1,758 yards and 19 scores in 33 games at the high school level. Stellato is a gritty player, similar to Spector. He is described to have long speed and is a tough and hungry guy who can play multiple positions.

Note: *redshirt

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