Under-the-radar T.J. Green likely to get first shot as wide receiver, kick returner

Dabo Swinney: 'We'd never even seen tape on the guy. He was as good looking a prospect as we saw. We couldn't believe it'

Football Recruiting - T.J. Green

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football Recruiting - T.J. Green

Given the circumstances - a lack of depth in the defensive secondary, and wide-open competition for early playing time once a large group of freshman defensive backs arrives this summer - one might expect an 'athlete' like T.J. Green to end up on the defensive side of the ball.

At 6-4, 200, he has the size and speed to develop into a formidable college safety.

That's not likely to happen however.

Both Chad Morris and Jeff Scott have their sights set on giving Green his first shot as a wide receiver.

Numerically, plugging Green into the offense makes sense. With Nuk Hopkins' departure to the NFL, Clemson came out of spring practice with just five scholarship players to man its three wide-out positions: rising juniors Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, Adam Humphries and Martavis Bryant, and redshirt freshman Germone Hopper. The final spot on the two-deep is currently being manned by walk-on Matt Porter.

Joining the crew this summer will be Mike Williams, Kyrin Priester and Green.

Williams and Green - at 6-5 and 6-4, respectively - are both big, fast wide-outs with good ball-skills and the ability to go catch the ball in a crowd. Priester is a versatile jack-of-all-trades, with the ability to play all three receiver positions.

Green was a final-week addition to Clemson's recruiting class, almost having slipped through the net and ended up at Alabama-Birmingham, where he committed last November.

Green played his high school football in Sylacauga, Ala. - a dot on the map in Talladega County, which, according to Wikipedia, is known locally by various nicknames, including 'The Marble City,' 'Buzzard's Roost,' 'Alabama’s Best-Kept Secret' and 'Sly Town.'

Sylacauga High, with an enrollment of less than 700 and a thin history of producing Division 1 football prospects, was overlooked on the recruiting trail. As Green's senior season came to a conclusion, he took his only scholarship offer - from UAB - and ran with it.

At the time, he described himself to Al.com, as "a guy who can get behind the secondary, but I can also go up and get the ball."

He said he committed to UAB because, after waiting for other scholarship offers, he "figured they weren't coming."

He almost turned out to be right - at least in regard to scholarship offers from big-stage schools.

Green's fate changed because Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell knew someone who knew of Green. Caldwell went and took a look, liked what he saw and called in Dabo Swinney and the rest of the staff; and in the final week of January, Clemson made an offer.

Arrangements were made for Green to visit Clemson, and on the day he traveled from Sylacauga to the Upstate, he received a second 'major' scholarship offer from Auburn.

It turned out to be too late for the in-state school. Green had already pretty much made up his mind, and his visit to Clemson just confirmed his decision.

He committed to the Tigers, and then called UAB coach Garrick McGee, who he said supported his decision.

"I called Coach McGee and told him I committed to Clemson," Green told his local newspaper, The Daily Home. "He knew I had the ability to play on a bigger stage."

Swinney said on signing day that Green is a perfect example of how some talented prospects manage to slip through the cracks.

"We didn't find T.J. until late - we'd never even seen tape on the guy," Swinney said. "He was as good looking a prospect as we saw. 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 predicted then that when Green arrived on campus there would be a "tug of war" for his services between Clemson's offense and defense..

For now, it appears that offense will get the first shot.

"He could easily play on either side of the ball," Swinney said.

The Tigers also plan to utilize Green as a kick returner.

T.J. Green's Signing Day Bio

Scored nine touchdowns and averaged 22 yards a catch as a senior at Sylacauga High School in Alabama...had 25 tackles and four interceptions on defense...outstanding kick returner...ranked as 18th best player in Alabama by ESPN who lists him as a four-star recruit...ranked as #56 athlete in the nation by ESPN.com...played for Matt Griffith at Sylacauga High...recruited by Robbie Caldwell...born March 15, 1995.

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