Back into the swing of things

CLEMSON - Lying on the floor of Memorial Stadium, having just suffered a potentially serious right knee injury, Jordan Leggett was scared.

All of the extra work he did to get to Clemson a semester early. All of the hard work he did in spring to emerge to earn a legit shot at playing time as a true freshman tight end. Was it all gone, taken away by one ugly twist?

"It was tragic," Leggett said.

That tragedy had an happy ending. While coaches initially feared a torn ACL – which would have ended Leggett's season – it turned out the talented freshman just had a sprained MCL. While Leggett still isn't 100 percent, the result is far more palatable.

He missed the opener against Georgia but made his college debut against South Carolina State, grabbing his first career reception for six yards.

"It was life-changing," he said. "The Georgia game, I wish I'd have been able to play, running down the hill. Coming out of high school, I never had to sit on the sideline and watch people play. It was a totally different experience for me. Going into the S.C. State game, I knew I was going to get some playing time. Didn't know how much. But I ended up playing almost the whole second half."

Working towards more significant playing time will depend on how quickly Leggett can become comfortable. He is wearing a brace on his right knee and admits his injury downtime hurt his progress.

"It messed up my whole mentality on things and brought me way down, and when I did come back after my injury I was messed up," he said. "I took me being hurt as some time off, which wasn't smart at all.

"I was behind, not in the playbook, but in certain techniques we use with blocking. I feel I came back strong. I don't trust my knee as much, I need to work on doing that more. I'm still going through treatment and getting it stronger and back to the way it was but I feel I can do everything I did before the injury. "

The brace, he said, slows him down – Leggett said he's never had to wear a knee brace before.

"I'd never hurt my knees before," he said. "But before I was a huge threat in the passing game. Now I'm still the same, I feel like it's slowing me down with the brace. I'm slow coming out of my cuts. It's different for me. It's going to change for me. I'm going to come back and get stronger and be able to trust my knee, that's the only thing holding me back at this point."

That remains an issue, as Leggett admits to favoring the right leg a bit.

"If I make a cut on my right leg, I'll put my left leg down as soon as I cut on my right leg. It takes some of the pressure off it," he said. "In the game the other day there was a pass that was too high. It would have involved me going off my right leg, so I didn't trust it as much, tried to jump off both and couldn't reach the pass. It's going to take a while to get me back to trusting the knee like I need to."

When that happens, Leggett will become another impressive piece for an offense already full of them. His spring game effort – seven receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown – shows the possibilities.

"All through high school I played receiver rather than tight end," he said. "I'm a faster, more agile, quicker dude. I'll be a mismatch for safeties because they're not as tall as me, and linebackers can't keep up with me. So I'll be a pretty dangerous threat over the middle, a big target to throw to."

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