Clemson, led by receiver coach Jeff Scott’s recruiting efforts, has built some depth – to say the least – at wide receiver.
We saw it last year with four-star talent Germone Hopper receiving the redshirt: it’s not easy to breakthrough with the talent currently in orange and white.
With that in mind, the Tigers welcome at least three freshmen who aim for that breakthrough as instant-impact players in 2013.
Mike Williams: Williams steps on campus already as big a target as any for the Tigers (6-5 200) – the four-star prospect sticking with Clemson early through a couple decommitments and late adds to the 2013 class receiver group. His new position coach says it all took was “about three reps” at a camp to know Williams needed an offer from the Tigers. "Mike has a very big frame at 6-5, and is a guy who's going to continue to develop physically," Scott said back in February. "But the thing that really stands out to me about him is his ball skills. He's very athletic and is an excellent basketball player." Williams averaged 23.3 yards per reception for 1,395 yards total and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
Kyrin Priester: Priester was one Clemson had identified early in the recruiting process, only for the spot to fill up before he could commit, but late in the game, the Tigers found a place for him to flip from previously being N.C. State’s highest-rated commit. While size and ball skills are the buzzwords for Williams, Priester, a three-star prospect, has “versatility.” "He can play several different positions,” Scott said, “our 'nine,' where DeAndre Hopkins played these past years, or our 'five' where Jaron Brown played. And he can also play the 'two' spot where Sammy (Watkins) play(ed). Kyrin meets the requirements for all three positions. Because of his versatility, that will probably allow him to make an impact sooner rather than later." Priester averaged 19.9 yards per reception for 1,116 yards total and 12 touchdowns.
T.J. Green: Clemson coaches firmly believe they got a steal in the 6-3 195-pound Green, who didn’t receive BCS-level offers until very late in the game and was bumped from obscurity to a four-star prospect by ESPN after committing to Clemson. "He was as good looking a prospect as we saw,” Dabo Swinney said Signing Day. “We couldn't believe it. And I knew exactly that would happen. It's hard to keep anything quiet, but we tried...because I knew as soon as people found out he was coming up here, one of the in-state schools would offer him, and they did. We were fortunate to be able to hang onto him." Swinney did add Green could play on either side of the ball, but it appears receiver is the early favorite.
Projection – Brandon Rink (O&W)
2013 Outlook: Mike Williams – 11 catches – 176 yards – 1 TD (14 games)
Williams appears to be the most likely candidate to play right away and has the ability to use his size to make some plays early on. I’m figuring he makes the most of his opportunities a la 2011 Martavis Bryant (True freshman, 195 snaps: 9 catches – 221 yards – 2 TDs) than say 2011 Charone Peake (true freshman, 245 snaps: 4 catches – 71 yards). Currently leaning towards a redshirt for the rest, but Priester could be a guy to use his versatility to play some behind any of the listed starters.
Projection – Marty Coleman (Seldom Used Reserve)
SUR 2013 Forecast: True frosh WRs (12 games)
I expect Mike Williams to play an ancillary role, similar to Charone Peake in 2011. Peake played a fair amount of snaps (245), but was targeted infrequently and caught only 4 passes.
In an offense featuring Sammy Watkins, Adam Humprhies, Peake, Martavis Bryant and Germone Hopper among others ready, willing and able to receive passes from Tajh Boyd, I don’t foresee a major role for Williams. Of course, that can all change with a twisted ankle, jammed knee or concussion. And that’s a solid reason for playing Williams this season…
Though I included numbers for Kyrin Priester and T.J. Green, I expect both to redshirt. Williams plays a role similar to Charone Peake circa 2011, seeing 200+ snaps with few passes thrown in his direction. Check out more of Coleman’s analysis here.
More 2013 Forecasts
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson tight ends (Jordan Leggett, Stanton Seckinger, Jay Jay McCullough), QB Tajh Boyd, WR Martavis Bryant, RB Rod McDowell, WR Charone Peake, RB D.J. Howard, WR Adam Humphries, Freshman four-star RBs (Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman), WR Germone Hopper, RB Zac Brooks.