The numbers game

CLEMSON - For the better part of the last two years, there was a misconception about the wide receiver depth at Clemson.

Go there to play wide receiver and wait, wait for a while before you see the field, because the Tigers are loaded.

Has there been a lot of wide receiver talent at Clemson? Absolutely, can't argue with that.

But a quick run through the distribution of scholarships shows that it's top heavy.

Had DeAndre Hopkins returned for his senior season for the NFL, he would have been the only senior on this year's roster. But he's now a starter for the Texans.

The four juniors, Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries were all apart of that vaunted 2011 signing class.

Germone Hopper would have been the only sophomore had he not taken a redshirt last year. Now, he's counted amongst the freshmen.

Originally, there were supposed to be three other freshmen with him -- Demarcus Robinson, Ryan Jenkins and Mike Williams. But Robinson decommitted from Clemson and signed with Florida. Jenkins, the first 2013 wide receiver pledge, went back on his pledge to Dabo Swinney and eventually signed with Tennessee.

T.J. Green and Kyrin Priester jumped on board and accepted the spots vacated by Robinson and Jenkins. But Priester is currently at Fork Union Military Academy trying to qualify for 2014.

Bodies were needed. The four juniors were the only scholarship wide receivers with any playing experience entering this season, so Green and Williams were given the green light to play this fall.

The lack of numbers dictated the need.


Josh Malone plans to take an official visit to Clemson.
"We don't have great depth at wide-out. Everybody thinks we've got all these wide-outs around here. We've got some pretty good players, but we don't have a lot of depth," Swinney said.

There are seven wide receivers on scholarship. Now that Peake is done for the season with a torn ACL, six are healthy.

"Our number is 10 at the position. We're under," Swinney said. "That's why receiver is a big need in this class for us, from a recruiting standpoint."

Clemson has commitments from two four-star prospects, Demarre Kitt and Artavis Scott. They continue to pursue other targets like Trevion Thompson and Josh Malone.

But that's next year. There are more pressing needs in 2013. Unfortunately for Clemson, there isn't a whole lot that can be done to address them.

Humphries will move into Peake's starting job. Former wide receiver Stanton Seckinger could help fill the void from the tight end position. The freshmen will play more. So will walk-on Matt Porter.

"But we've got what we've got and we'll make it work," Swinney said.

No offense to the two first-year freshmen and walk-on that will see an increase in playing time, but with 10 games left on the schedule, depth could become a concern, a big one at that.

If worse comes to worse, Swinney could have a defensive back cross-train at the position, kind of like Humphries did last year when he split time at wide receiver and cornerback. Cordrea Tankersley wouldn't be a bad option.

Folks in orange should hope it doesn't come to that, especially if they're going to keep making that Push for Pasadena.

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