Pearman says Tigers already 'blessed' at tight end, with 2 of ESPN's top 3 on the way

Milan Richard, Cannon Smith joining a group that's talented, deep and versatile

Clemson football - Tight Ends

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson football - Tight Ends

When Danny Pearman looks at Clemson's roster of players at the tight end position, he feels "blessed" - in talent, in numbers and in versatility.

A position that Pearman considers a strength became even stronger on signing day with the addition of players ranked No. 2 and 3 nationally at the position by ESPN - Milan Richard and Cannon Smith.

The two players will arrive this summer with college-ready bodies and will compete for a niche in playing lineup that already includes three players who have started games for the Tigers: senior Sam Cooper, junior Stanton Seckinger and sophomore Jordan Leggett.

"We're very blessed at the tight end position," Pearman said during a signing day interview with Clemson's official website. "We've got some guys coming back, and we've got some guys we have to pull through the knothole and get more production out of this season.

"Sam Cooper and Stanton Seckinger are both back, and we're excited about them. I'm also excited about Jordan Leggett and his progress. He was just young last year and jumped on the scene. He made a big play down the sideline in the Orange Bowl. Jordan can create real mismatch problems for a lot of people. He's good, but he just needs to follow up with a good off-season and good spring practice."

Also in the mix will be sophomore Jay Jay McCullough, who got his feet wet last year, and redshirt freshmen D.J. Greenlee, Sean Mac Lain and Zach Riggs.

Greenlee is a former Daniel High star and the son of Clemson strength and conditioning coach Larry Greenlee. Mac Lain is the younger brother of Tiger offensive tackle Eric Mac Lain, and Riggs is the son of former Clemson All-ACC tight end Jim Riggs.

"Jay Jay McCullough is a young man who's really starting to buy in on some stuff for us," said Pearman. "We handed it off to him last year, and he was little bit of high school tailback. D.J., Sean and Zach are three young guys who'll give us some good competition there."

Dabo Swinney believes the Tigers hit the jackpot with both Richard - the nephew of Georgia legend Herschel Walker - and Smith, who is the son of former Clemson defensive end and current university board of trustee member Bill Smith.

"Milan is one of the best athletes we've signed around here in a while," Swinney said. "He has huge up-side and potential. He's a big, big athlete that's just going to get bigger and stronger and faster and smarter and all that stuff.

"The biggest thing about him is that with all the things we do with our tight ends, he has the speed to stretch the field and good ball skills and also the size to be that guy we need in the physical part of the running game, like Dwayne Allen."

Swinney predicts that Smith will one day be one of the Tigers' team captains.

"We've been watching Cannon literally since he was seven years old," said Swinney. "He's been coming to our camp, and he started out at wideout and then grew into a tight end and made himself one of the best in the country.

"He's 6-6, every bit of it, and has a great frame. We're going to start him at tight end and feel like he can be a very good one there. But we don't know how big he's going to be. He could be a guy who'll end up at tackle one day. I do know that we got an absolute great football player in Cannon Smith. This guy is going to be all-in as much as any player we've ever signed."

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