The next man up

CLEMSON - Just about everyone believes Dwayne Allen's final game at Clemson will be on Jan. 4.

If the Orange Bowl is indeed his last game as a Tiger, Brandon Ford is the next man up at tight end.

As the backup to the top tight end in all of college football, Ford, a redshirt junior from Hanahan, has 13 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in 201 snaps this season.

Though coach Dabo Swinney would certainly miss Allen, he's found quality depth in Ford.

"He's found a way to impact this season," Swinney said. "He's had an excellent year for us."

He added, "I'm excited about Brandon. He'll have another great offseason and really commit, to take it to another level, from a daily intensity standpoint. He'll have a career in front of him. He's got great talent, great ability."

Ford looks forward to what should be an expanded role during his senior season.

"I've always been a leader. In high school, I was one. I've never really had a chance to step to that role, because I've had great leaders in front of me," he said. "Not to say I was discouraged or anything, I always had the guys in front of me -- learning from them. You always want to learn from the best guys in front of you. That's how you become a leader.

"Next year, I know I'll be asked to do a lot more. If Dwayne leaves, I'll be the next guy up."

Bring it on.

"I just take that as another challenge in my life, to just help this football team get better," Ford said.

A win in Miami would be a step in the right direction.

"I think a win would show everybody that Clemson is back and not just a past, history team," Ford said.


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