In Chad Morris’ experience, the so-called ‘sophomore slump’ has earned its infamy.
For that reason, Clemson’s offensive coordinator will be pushing All-America wide receiver and national freshman of the year Sammy Watkins harder than ever when the Tigers begin spring practice next month.
“When you look at the history of college football, you’ll see a lot of guys who’ve had great first years,” said Morris during a recent interview with Clemson’s official website. “But then you look and see what they’ve done in their second years – and what you find is that a lot of young guys will follow up a great first year with a down second year.
“That’s the big challenge…And that’s been our challenge to Sammy, and we’ve already talked to him about that.”
Morris’ message to Watkins is that he’s just scratched the surface of what’s available to him in Clemson’s offense, which Morris hopes to expand significantly next season.
“What helped get him to where he was as a freshman, this offense can help catapult him even more,” Morris said. “He’s going to be even more of a high-profile guy. The challenge to him is how hard is he going to work to prepare himself going into the second year of this system.
“I expect that of Sammy. There’s so much more that he can do. As I look back on this season, I see so many areas where he can improve. I’m excited to watch him grow and mature.”
Morris said that much of same challenge applies to rising junior quarterback Tajh Boyd in the wake of his All-ACC sophomore season – his first as a starter.
Morris says he plans to push Boyd hard again this spring, and he’s hoping for a bit of help from the players working behind Boyd on the depth chart.
“Any time you have a first-team All-ACC quarterback coming back, he’s got to be your starter going into the spring,” Morris said. “But with that being said, everybody has to understand – the running backs, the O-line, and the quarterbacks – that competition is a healthy thing. Tajh needs to know he has people nipping at his heels, because that’s just going to push him and make him better.
“But, yes, Tajh is our starter. Is he going to be pushed? Absolutely. I’m going to push him, and the guys below him are going to push him.”
Morris Focused On RB, OL For 2013: Morris recently spent some time on the recruiting trail in the state of Texas, where he still has strong contacts from his days as a successful high school coach. He said he’s especially keeping an eye out for running backs and offensive linemen with potential interest in the Clemson program.
“I’ve been out for a couple of weeks in the state of Texas, mainly looking at offensive linemen, which will be a area of focus,” Morris said. “Running back is going to be a huge focus. At quarterback, with us getting Chad (Kelly) in, we feel good about that position, but we’ve already got some 2014 guys already identified.
“Running back and offensive line are my two big priorities right now. We’ve got to go out there and get some guys.”
Clemson signed one running back – Zac Brooks of Jonesboro, AR – in its 2012 class. Among 2013 prospects with early Clemson offers are Dontre Wilson of DeSoto, TX, North Carolinians Marquez Grayson of Lexington and T.J. Logan of Greensboro, and five players from Georgia – Wayne Gallman of Loganville, Tyshon Dye of Elberton, Tyren Jones of Marietta, Peyton Barber of Alpharetta and Alvin Kamara of Norcross.
Among offensive linemen with early Clemson offers is J.J. Gustafson of Dallas, TX.