Dabo Swinney voiced a lot of excitement Tuesday surrounding WRU this fall in his first weekly press conference of the 2021 season.
The 14-year Clemson head coach echoed offensive coordinator Tony Elliot’s sentiments for this year’s wide receiver group, one he says could go down as one of the most talented groups Clemson has ever seen.
“As I’ve said many times, this is as talented a group as we’ve probably had,” Swinney said. “I told (receivers coach Tyler) Grisham that on picture day, I said, ‘You need to take a picture of this group and pull it out in about six years.’ This is going to be a special group when it’s all said and done. You’ll look back six or seven years from now and think, ‘Wow, all these guys were in the same room.’”
With the likes of Justyn Ross, E.J. Williams, Ajou Ajou, Frank Ladson Jr. and Joseph Ngata along with a few new faces in Beaux Collins, Dacari Collins and Troy Stellato, the Tigers have a lot of talent at their disposal this fall. Despite their depth of talent, though, Swinney recognizes that Ross is simply in a league of his own.
“Justyn is kind of in a league of his own just simply because of where he is developmentally. This guy has played a lot of football,” Swinney said. “He came in here elite and mentally where he is, he’s just in a great place technically, fundamentally, knowledge, system. I mean, you name it, he just gets it.”
The experience behind Ross in this year’s wide receiver room continues to be elite. For Swinney, having guys with game experience like Ladson and Ngata is huge, but the real test will be if they can remain healthy for the season in its entirety.
“Frank and Ngata are elite guys, they just got to be available. It’s really that simple,” Swinney said. “They had just had good freshman years and then last year they just weren’t available, and that’s just the way it is. High level guys, I’ve seen it. I mean, Ngata, this kid is as talented as some of the big guys that have come through here, but consistently doing it on game day just hasn’t happened yet.”
“I’m really excited about what I’ve seen. I thought he had a great spring and he’s had a really good last 10 days or so, but we’ve got to see it on game day. It’s the same thing with Frank. We’ve seen splashes and good moments but (not) consistently being there.”
It is clear that consistency will be key for the Tigers’ wideouts this season, and Swinney is hopeful that his guys will take advantage of each and every opportunity thrown at them and rise to the occasion.
“It’s a really good room, and you’ll see a bunch of guys have opportunities,” Swinney said. “But hopefully those veteran guys will be able to be who we know they are week in and week out for us.”