It’s been a long road to get here for Clemson’s Joseph Ngata. Following a stellar freshman campaign in the orange and purple, Ngata struggled with a slew of injuries in his sophomore season last year, but the receiver came out guns blazing in the Tiger’s season opener against the Bulldogs, setting career-highs with six receptions and 110 receiving yards to earn team offensive player of the week honors.
“He’s good,” head coach Dabo Swinney said about Ngata. “He hadn’t really played since his freshman year. He had a few plays here and there last year, that was about it. That’s what I saw his freshman year backing up Tee [Higgins] and I’m like, ‘Man, this guy’s about to be a dang superstar,’ and then last year was what it was.”
“He came in early part of camp and tweaked his hamstring again and missed some practice, but the last probably 12 days of practice before the Georgia game, he was awesome. I mean, practicing, every rep was a game rep and so he just carried it right to the game field. It was great to see and great for his confidence. He made some huge plays for us.”
Looking back on his struggles last season, Ngata is thankful for the lessons he learned off the field that will now transfer over into his success on the field.
“It was a big struggle, but nevertheless, I can’t complain. It just taught me a lot. Taught me to be patient, taught me to work harder, and it was a good lesson.”
For Ngata, having a teammate with an attitude and work ethic like Justyn Ross, whose injury could have been career-ending, gave the wide receiver a lot of hope and is where he drew his inspiration during his injury rehab to not only get back on the field, but to do so in a big way.
“It was very frustrating,” Ngata said. “I would say, the one person that gave me a lot of inspiration throughout last year was Justyn. Just seeing Justyn’s situation, knowing that he might not be able to play ever again just gave me a little hope.”