Clemson wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham is looking for more permanence, as far as the Tigers’ top receivers are concerned.
Grisham knows that in order for Clemson to be successful offensively, someone like Joseph Ngata is going to have to stay on the field consistently.
He’s used Tuesday’s media outing as an opportunity to motivate the junior wide receiver, but it was nothing that Grisham hasn’t already told Ngata.
“Some are calling him a first-rounder,” Grisham said when asked about what Ngata’s ceiling is. “I expect him to be a first-rounder. That’s what I would love for him. That’s the expectation that I have. He would say that he has the talent, he has the ability to be a first-round guy. I would love to see that happen for him.
“For him to be a first-rounder, it’s going to take first-round effort. It’s going to take first-round recovery.”
While former Tigers wideout Amari Rodgers wasn’t a first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers — he went in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft — he exemplified the standard of what that level of effort and recovery look like at the collegiate level.
In basic terms, his preparation and determination were already pro-like.
That’s what Grisham is looking for out of Ngata.
Last season, Ngata injured his abdomen during Clemson’s season opener. The injury forced him in and out of the lineup all season. He made three starts over seven games, catching just seven passes for 83 yards in 122 snaps.
He eventually had surgery and missed the last five games of the season.
Grisham recognized how frustrating it was for Ngata to experience those injuries, but it was also frustrating for his position coach because of how it affected Clemson’s wide receiver depth chart.
Ngata caught six passes for 83 yards during Clemson’s spring game, continuing to show those glimpses of brilliance and why Grisham is still so high on the junior wide receiver.
“You saw the spring game, you saw what Ngata did,” Grisham said. “How dominant he can be because he’s such a physically dominant guy. For him, I’m really hoping that the light comes on. I’m really hoping he stays healthy and that he can be who we think he can be.”
Ngata wasn’t at full-strength during Clemson’s spring game, but Grisham alluded to just that.
“That’s part of being a football player, is playing through discomfort,” he said. “Especially at wideout, you have those guys who are wound uptight, that are 0-to-60 in four seconds kind of guys. We call them Ferraris…they feel every nick.”
Grisham emphasized the importance of staying durable, especially when considering what’s ahead at the next level. He’s made sure to get the point across to Ngata, that NFL teams aren’t going to invest in players, who aren’t durable.
“If he feels a nick or bruise, he plays through it,” Grisham said. “He’s tough. And he is tough, but those injuries have been out of his control. I think for him now, let’s focus on preparing holistically for a long season.”
Grisham wants Ngata to lean into the pain and discomfort and be able to push through. He circled back to the discussion around Justyn Ross, who is waiting to be cleared to return from a congenital spinal issue, which required surgery in June of 2020.
“If I’m worried about an injury, I’m probably going to get injured,” he said. “Let’s get that out of my mind. Let’s focus on the task at hand, on my alignment, on my assignment and be focused on that, and have fun playing a game.”