Grading the WRs/TEs

In this fifth installment of an eight-part series, CUTigers takes an in-depth position-by-position look at what we thought before the season and what's been learned since.

WHAT WE SAID ABOUT THE WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS
Wide receiver was the Biggest Area of Concern in our Bold Predictions feature from this year's magazine preview.

"It highlighted our list last year and nothing has changed to make us think otherwise this season. In fact, with the loss of leading wide out Jacoby Ford, the Tigers have several holes to fill at the position entering the start of the 2010 season."

Consistency at wide receiver was also listed as one of the 5 Keys to the 2010 season.


Jaron Brown is second among Clemson wide receivers with 28 catches. (Roy Philpott)
Much of the concern was due to the graduation of Jacoby Ford, who had more catches than every other Clemson wide receiver in 2009 (56). Jaron Brown, Xavier Dye, Brandon Clear, Brandon Ford, Marquan Jones and Terrance Ashe combined for 42 catches last season.

"If the six players who made receptions in 2009 can't combine to surpass 56 catches in 2010, it could be slow going for the Clemson offense."

Freshman DeAndre Hopkins was pegged as a candidate for early playing time and predicted as Rookie of the Year in the Bold Predictions.

"He won't be the fastest receiver on Clemson's roster, but his speed is ample, his hands are huge and his athleticism is unparalleled. Look for Hopkins to catch at least 30 passes this season."

Dwayne Allen was all set to be the go-to guy in the passing game. Projected as the team's top pass catcher this season, most believed he'd be the top pass catcher this season. In fact, we even called it a safe bet for Allen to have the most catches in the Life after Spiller feature in the magazine.

Dye and Jones were suggested to be on track to be the top pass catching wide receivers.

One of the two freshmen tight ends signed in the class of 2010, Victor Beasley and Sam Cooper, figured to play this season.

WHAT WE LEARNED
Each wide receiver was given an equal number of snaps to start the season before the staff settled on the starting three of Brown, Hopkins and Bryce McNeal, with Jones off the bench as the fourth.

Not only has Hopkins lived up to the billing as the top rooke, he's the top pass catcher on the team with 43 receptions for 532 yards and four touchdowns. ‘Nuke' has also been the most explosive receiver with seven catches for 20 yards or more.

But there hasn't been much explosive play to speak of from the wide receiver corps. That's had a lot to do with Clemson's offensive woes—the inability to make plays down field.

The Tigers had just two passing plays that were over 50 yards, and one was against Presbyterian.

The six returning lettermen that combined for 42 catches in 2009 have 62 this season. Brown leads them all with 28 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns.

The bulk of Allen's 31 catches were made during the North Carolina and Boston College games—both of which were seven reception performances. Over the last four games, he had just four catches for 30 yards. His only touchdown catch was against Presbyterian.

For us, it's kind of a head-scratcher as to why Allen was seemingly invisible in the Clemson offense down the stretch.

Grade: C-

LOOKING AHEAD

Charone Peake is one of two five-star wide receivers that's committed to the 2011 class. (Roy Philpott)
Help is on the way. And there's some explosive talent scheduled to sign with Clemson on the first Wednesday in February.

Five-star Sammy Watkins joined fellow five-star Charone Peake when he pledged to the Tigers in mid-November.

Four-star Martavis Bryant, who's spent this fall in prep school, should arrive in January, assuming he qualifies.

Plus, the Clemson staff feels they have two players with lots of upside in Stanton Seckinger and Adam Humphries—both are Scout.com two-star prospects.

Ford, who currently has six catches, looks like he could be a serviceable option moving forward, but he'll have to bulk up and increase his knowledge of the position during the offseason.
,br> He and Allen will be joined by four-star Eric MacLain, who's the most physically ready player in the 2011 class.

Once the young receivers get acclimated, watch out. This group has potential to be among the most dangerous wide receiver corps in the country.


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