Young no longer, Tiger tight ends looking to lead by example

Jordan Leggett on QBs: 'Whoever wins the job, we're going to have one of the best quarterbacks in the country'

Orange Bowl - Jordan Leggett

Photo by Mark Crammer

Orange Bowl - Jordan Leggett

Beginning with the second half of last year's spring game, after Sam Cooper went down with an ACL injury, Clemson's tight ends were young in the extreme.

Jordan Leggett was a first semester freshman; Jay Jay McCullough a redshirt freshman; and converted wide receiver Stanton Seckinger was still young in the position.

With the help of point-of-attack blocking 'fullback' Darrell Smith, the Tigers made-do, and then got an early boost when Cooper made an unusually raid recovery.

According to Seckinger - now a rising redshirt junior - the 'young' label no longer applies to the Tigers' four-man tight end group.

"No. 1, we want to get better," Seckinger said. "We're striving to improve one percent every day, figuring out our strengths and the different parts of the offense.

"We also want to establish ourselves as leaders. We're all guys who've been here for a while now. We know the offense really well. Now we've got a lot of young receivers and some young offensive linemen, and we want them to look to us as guys who know the offense - where you have to go, what you have to do. We want to be a group that younger players on the team look up to."

For Jordan Leggett, that means personal improvement and a higher level of effort and consistency. He wants to lose the tag he got last year: 'Mr. Lazy.'

"They're starting to call me J-Legs, and I like that a lot better," Leggett said. "I've actually got myself together - I had like a realization. I've been watching inspirational videos on YouTube, about wanting to succeed like you want to breathe.

"I've really stepped up my game. I saw it start happened a little bit during practice for the bowl game. The catch I made in the Orange Bowl felt great - it was a great feeling to be able to help the team like that."

Leggett's immediate motivation is playing-time driven.

"I played some as a freshman, but I didn't like the playing time that I got," he said. "I decided to come in and work harder...I want to win the starting spot. But right now there's just great competition. They're really not any starters right now."

Just like their coaches and fans, Clemson's players are keeping a close eye on the quarterback position, where senior Cole Stoudt is battling redshirt sophomore Chad Kelly and first-semester freshman Deshaun Watson for the starting job.

"Whoever wins the job, we're going to have one of the best quarterbacks in the country," said Leggett. "They can all run, and they can all throw. It's going to come down to who they (the coaches) trust to go out on the field and make plays."

Seckinger agreed.

"Your guess is as good as mine," said Seckinger when asked to speculate on who might win the job. "They're all good athletes, and they've all be making big throws and great reads.

"It's going to come down to the coaches' decision. All three are very capable."

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 2

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

Not sure if it was injuries or inexperience but we need more production from this position this season. Palmer,Allen and Ford had great years and it seemed like last year was a mild regression within the offense.

TigerNE writes:

To use the language popular lately, to me both TE and RB are to offensive areas we are rebuilding and not reloading. TE more than RB, in a way. It will be nice to see the top two or three leading rushers be IN that position and not the QB.

And it would be even better to see more routine blocking and some more productivity from the TEs. Cooper gradually got better at blocking but I wonder if he will ever be that productivite. Leggett looks like he excels at every aspect - nimbleness, speed, hands, etc. Seckinger is stable and dependable.

The real unknown will be McCullough.

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