New York Jets deepen Clemson connection by signing free agent Jacoby Ford

Former Tiger receiver, NCAA sprint champion will play for Rex Ryan, former Raiders' WR coach Sanjay Lal

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford (12) makes a catch over Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons (30) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford (12) makes a catch over Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons (30) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan knows a thing or two about Clemson wide receivers.

After all, his son, Seth, is a member of the Tigers' crew.

So it's perhaps not surprising that the Jets, who list playmaking wideouts as one of their more pressing personnel needs, dipped into the free agent market and signed former Clemson receiver and NCAA sprint champion Jacoby Ford.

Ford, whose pro career started on a promising note with a record-setting season at Oakland four years ago, hit hard times on the injury front, lost an entire season to surgery, and found his role diminished as the Raiders' changed management and coaching staffs.

Like all of Clemson's free agent signees so far, Ford followed a connection back to a previous team.

Sanjay Lal, who coached Ford at Oakland in his first two seasons there, is now receivers coach for the Jets.

The Jets had already begun to overhaul their receiving corps, as they released Santonio Holmes and signed Eric Decker away from Denver. It's widely speculated that the Jets will go for a receiver early in the 2014 draft, as well.

Ford figures to fit into New York's plans as a primary return man and backup wideout.

As a rookie in 2010, Ford burst on the NFL scene as a record-breaking kickoff returner, and also had two 100-yard receiving games and a 71-yard run from scrimmage.

Ford, now 26, comes to New York having caught 57 passes for 848 yards and three touchdowns for the Raiders. He also has returned 75 kickoffs for 1,874 yards and four scores.

His playing time diminished last season, when he caught just 13 passes for 99 yards.

Ford is the fourth Clemson player to land with a new team as an unrestricted free agent, joining quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who went from San Diego to Tennessee; linebacker Kavell Conner, who moved from Indianapolis to San Diego; and safety Chris Clemons, who went from Miami to Texas.

Two more Tigers, tight end Michael Palmer and outside linebacker Ricky Sapp, re-signed with their previous teams - Sapp with the Texans and Palmer with the Steelers.

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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