Previewing Clemson's WRs and TEs

Much more will be expected from Clemson's pass-catchers in 2011. CUTigers takes a look at what to look for this spring in this extensive report.

WHO LEFT?
Xavier Dye, Terrance Ashe, Kasey Nobles - None of the three players gone from last year's team were major contributors during their respective careers.

Dye had four catches for 51 yards in 2010 while Ashe had a catch for 43 yards and Nobles two for 14 yards and a score.

The wide receivers, Dye and Ashe, combined for 45 career catches. As juniors, they had 14 and 11, respectively. Nobles, a tight end/fullback, didn't register a catch until his senior season.

THIS YEAR'S LINEUP
Wide Receiver
Brandon Clear (RS Sr.) - In three games last season, he had three catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Marquan Jones (Sr.) - Jones had a career-best 21 catches for 184 yards as a junior and started three games.

Jaron Brown (RS Jr.) - In 12 games, 10 of which were starts, he had 32 catches for 405 yards and three touchdowns.

Bryce McNeal (RS So.) - McNeal was fourth among all wide receivers last season with 19 catches for 187 yards. He started three of the 12 games he played in.

DeAndre Hopkins (So.) - Last year, he was the team's top receiver with 52 catches for 637 yards and four touchdowns. Hopkins started eight of the 12 games that he played in.

Joe Craig (RS Fr.) - As a senior at Gaffney High School, Craig made 19 catches for 300 yards and two scores.

Tight End
Drew Traylor (RS Sr.) - After playing defensive end for the first part of his career, Traylor was moved to tight end. He didn't have a catch last season.

Dwayne Allen (RS Jr.) - Allen was third on the team 33 catches for 373 yards. He also scored a touchdown. He was the only offensive skill player to start all 13 games in 2010.

Brandon Ford (RS Jr.) - Moved from wide receiver to tight end during the 2010 season, Ford had 10 catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Against South Florida in the bowl game, he had four catches for 45 yards and two scores.

Darrell Smith (RS So.) - Smith didn't have a catch during his first season of playing time at Clemson.

Sam Cooper (RS Fr.) - As a senior at The Ensworth School in Nashville, Tenn., Cooper was the No. 53 tight end in the nation, according to Scout.com.

BEHIND THE SCENES
The Tigers' most productive season has spent most of the New Year playing basketball with the school's basketball team. How much he'll participate in spring practice could be known as early as this week. Clemson will participate in the ACC Tournament, which starts on Mar. 10. The Tigers will play in another postseason tournament once the conference tournament is finished.

Allen, Brown, Jones and McNeal are the top returning receivers without Hopkins. Brown, Jones and McNeal are in need of solid springs to help solidify spots on the team's two-deep depth chart before the summer when Martavis Bryant, Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins arrive.

Ford will look to build on a solid performance in the bowl game. He'll be feeling the heat from freshman tight end Eric MacLain, who's also slated to arrive this summer.

Traylor, Smith and Clear could all find themselves at the bottom of the depth chart. Cooper, who's yet to play a snap at Clemson, will be doing the same thing.

If hindsight is 20/20, then Craig should have played last year. His potential to be explosive in the vertical passing game could have been tapped last year. With new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who said he likes to take several shots down field during the course of the game, Craig could emerge as a big-play threat.

STORYLINES WORTH FOLLOWING
1. Nuke Hopkins' role as a dual-sport athlete. Does his time on the basketball court impact his play this spring?

2. How the groups fit into the new system. Chad Morris wants to take more shots downfield - who steps up?

3. How much of a leg-up the veteran wide receivers can get on the incoming freshmen? It won't be easy.

4. Joe Craig's emergence onto the scene.

5. Can Brandon Ford build off of his solid fourth quarter in the bowl game?

BOLD PREDICTION
At the end of the spring and following a strong first year on Clemson's scout team, Joe Craig will be listed as one of the starting wide receivers.

His speed will be too much to ignore and provided he can show any kind of toughness, he'll warrant this consideration.

PROJECTED POST-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Wide Receiver
1. DeAndre Hopkins
2. Brandon Clear

Wide Receiver
1. Jaron Brown
2. Marquan Jones

Wide Receiver
1. Joe Craig
2. Bryce McNeal

Tight End
1.Dwayne Allen
2.Brandon Ford


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