Tigers navigating youth movement at wideout

Football: Jayron Kearse & Kyrin Priester run a  one-on-one drill at spring practice on Wednesday

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football: Jayron Kearse & Kyrin Priester run a one-on-one drill at spring practice on Wednesday

CLEMSON – In a week’s span in January, over half of Clemson’s production at receiver was out the door – juniors Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant both opting for early-entry in the NFL draft.

Humphries, Tiger WR ready to roll

None

By then, part of the next generation was already on campus – mid-year enrollees Kyrin Priester, Demarre Kitt and Artavis Scott.

While all eyes are on the three-way quarterback battle, their go-to targets this fall are every much up in the air.

After a strong debut, big target Mike Williams, who split time with the NFL-bound Bryant as a freshman, is back – after 20 catches for 316 yards (five of 20-plus yards) and three touchdowns.

Left among upperclassmen with significant playing time last season is just one – rising senior Adam Humphries, who finished in a tie for second in receptions per game (3.2) and ranked third in yards (483).

“Coach (Jeff) Scott is really getting put to work with this group,” Humphries said. “A lot of the guys are catching on early. From a leadership standpoint I lost Sammy and (Martavis) and Charone (Peake) hasn’t been there on a day-to-day basis so I’ve had to step up and be the veteran. The guys have been doing well. We’re doing a lot of cross-training right now and it’s hard for a young guy to play multiple positions.

“Kyrin, Artavis and Demarre are doing a really good job at picking it up.”

Teammates at Dorman and members of a strong 2011 recruiting class, Peake joins Humphries in the de facto leadership role at a position where a number of younger players will see the field this season.

Peake is coming off a torn ACL suffered after his eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in two games last season.

The 6-3 former five-star prospect is sitting out the spring, but expects to be “100 percent” for summer workouts going into fall camp.

The hardest part of coming back from a major knee injury is often trusting it for a cut in the open field. For Peake, who has been hailed as one of Clemson’s fastest athletes, that is especially key.

“That’ll be on me working in the summer before fall camp,” Peake said. “Build my confidence in it and get my cuts a lot. Planting off my left knee will help me a lot.”

Humphries, standing 5-11 190, has been a go-to going on two seasons now – last year, however, was about impact with those catches.

He posted 41 receptions in both 2012 and 2013, but upped his yards per catch average from 6.8 to 11.8 – doubling his touchdown receptions (2).

Morris expecting more from Williams

None

A big chunk of those numbers came in a breakout game at Syracuse – three catches for 118 yards and both scores.

“It’s definitely a bigger role (coming) for me,” Humphries said. “I’m the veteran of this offense now. We have a lot of young guys. They need a leader out there and I’m trying to do that for them Trying to help them learn the offense as quick as possible and they’re doing a good job at that.”

Kitt (6-1 195), Scott (5-11 185) and Priester (6-1 185) have the look – that much is true per anyone you ask about them – all four-star rated on their way into TigerTown.

“They look good,” Peake said. “They look good early. Most guys come in fall camp and it’s kind of hard – glad they came in early because we need them guys next year. All of those guys look like college players already.”

The trick is being able to keep up with the relentless pace – just a select few months into learning Chad Morris’ bag of tricks.

“They are making plays left and right out there,” Humphries said. “I don’t think they can really step on the field and play (right now), but it’s more of a can we rely on you from play to play with our tempo offense so they can run to the line of scrimmage and get it in and do what you’re supposed to do on a play by play basis. That’s what we have to see out of them.”

Morris is a fan early as well, but he’s also applying plenty of pressure.

“You look out there at one time and your whole receiver corps are true freshmen who should be in high school right now,” he said. “Going against a veteran defense, which these guys need that. I’ve been pleased with the progress. We’re not holding back on them. We’re pushing the limit and the envelope…We got to continue to push those guys. That’s what spring ball is for.”

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter @brink_aim and OrangeandWhite.com @orangeandwhite

© 2014 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features