Recruiting plan has Tigers set at receiver

Football Awards - Danny Pearman presents T.J. Green with the Special Teams Player of the Year Award

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football Awards - Danny Pearman presents T.J. Green with the Special Teams Player of the Year Award

Jeff Scott was looking ahead to the 2014 cycle, from the first fall camp session of 2011.

On one side of the field, there was the dynamic five-star talent Sammy Watkins - the other, athletic freak Martavis Bryant. Three years of eligibility down, they will both be in Indianapolis this weekend for the NFL draft combine.

"If we waited until after the Orange Bowl on how we were going to replace Sammy and Martavis, we'd be in trouble," Scott, the Tigers' fifth-year recruiting coordinator said. "I knew after Sammy's first practice that he wasn't going to be here very long."

Being a receivers coach, Scott would know this spot better than most to target prospects, and it's become a challenge with the level of talent they're bringing in.

"Three of our last four wide receivers that have left were all three-year players," he said. "All went on to be highly-drafted guys. There's obviously positives in that they're having a lot of success here and able to go and have a good future at the next level.

"There's also a negative that you only get them for three seasons. We have to continue to be ahead of that curve. Give coach Morris and coach Swinney all of the weapons they need to have success."

The flipside is how attractive Clemson has become as a NFL factory for offensive skill players, and that went a long way in bringing in one of the top receiver classes in the country.

The four-man group of Trevion Thompson (6-3 190; Hillside; N.C.), Artavis Scott (5-10 175; East Lake; Fla.), Demarre Kitt (6-1 182; Sandy Creek; Ga.) and Kyrin Priester (6-2 180; Fork Union; Va.) all have a chance to play early with two starting spots vacated. Scott, Kitt and Priester are already on campus and will be competing for those jobs starting March 5.

"Whenever they're here having success, you're able to use their success to recruit other young men who are juniors in high school," Scott said. "We did a really good job of identifying the top guys that you want to come in if you could have your first pick. Once you identify those guys you spend a lot of time to show them how they can come in behind those guys and hopefully have the opportunity to break their records.

"We knew going into this cycle it was going to be a big year from a recruiting perspective."

Their success acquiriing talent here could play a factor in helping Brent Venables and co.

Sophomore T.J. Green was recruited as an athlete in the 2013 cycle, but debuted at receiver and on special teams, with two catches for zero yards and three returns for 20 yards a piece.

Green announced on Twitter he will be working at safety this spring, where the Tigers lose starter Robert Smith after this season.

The Alabama native was a monster in kick coverage, totaling the second-most special teams tackles (8). In his senior year at Sylacauga, he had 25 tackles and four interceptions.

Returning to the fold is senior Adam Humphries, who is three catches from the 100-mark with 893 career receiving yards and three touchdowns. Former Dorman teammate Charone Peake makes his return from a torn ACL, looking for a breakout redshirt junior year.

Sophomore Mike Williams is the favorite to take over Bryant's boundary role after an impressive freshman campaign (20 catches for 316 yards, 3 TDs).

Redshirt sophomore Germone Hopper will find himself fighting for playing time after an inconsistent debut (23 catches for 149 yards, 2 TDs).

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