Spring breakdown: WR/TE

With spring practice just two weeks away, CUTigers.com takes a look at the impact pass-catches on the 2015 Clemson football team.

The headliner
This one is a tough one because the Clemson football team has two talented leaders at the wide receiver position. Artavis Scott and Mike Williams both had big seasons in 2014, Scott as a freshman and Williams stepping into a larger role as a sophomore.

But Scott had a huge game on the biggest stage of the season: in the regular season finale against South Carolina. In helping the Tigers snap their frustrating losing streak to the rival Gamecocks, Scott had seven catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the season with 76 catches for 965 yards and eight touchdowns, including one that got the Tigers off to a strong start in their bowl win over Oklahoma.

Scott can’t rest on what he accomplished in 2014, however, and he needs to use the spring to build on that and become an even larger part of the offense. He has a chance to have a special Clemson career, and the spring is the time to take the next step in that direction.

The headliner, Part II
Williams had a huge season, as well, with 57 catches for 1,030 yards as he became a real downfield threat for the offense, especially when Deshaun Watson was in the lineup at quarterback. Williams only had three catches against South Carolina, but one of them was a huge third-down reception when Clemson was down early and faced the real chance of being in some trouble. On the next play, Scott scored the Tigers’ first touchdown and set them off on their rout of the Gamecocks.

Williams then finished the season with nine catches and 112 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners in the bowl game.

Clemson has built a strong pipeline of wide receivers to the NFL, players who can make big plays downfield, and Williams has the chance to be the next player in that pipeline. If he has a big junior season, he could be looking at an early entrance into the NFL (with a high draft pick at that).

Williams has all the attributes high-level receivers need, and he can use the spring to continue to build his game.

Needing to step up
Germone Hopper has had an underwhelming career at Clemson, and he finished his sophomore season with 27 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns and 139 of the yards came against North Carolina in a game that showed what Hopper can be in this offense. Like Williams, he seemed more comfortable with Watson at quarterback, but Hopper needs to find some consistency in his game, and the spring is the perfect time for that.

If he can do that, he can take on a larger role in the offense because he does have the tools to be a really good player.

The redshirt
Trevion Thompson might have been overlooked a bit coming out of high school, but he certainly seems to be a good fit for the Clemson offense. The Tigers’ coaches raved about him throughout the fall as he went through his redshirt season. Now, he has his first real chance to show what he can do and really step into the spotlight this spring.

Thompson is one of the new faces to watch this spring, and he is playing at a position that needs more bodies. Clemson has recruited well at receiver throughout the past few years, but some early departures and transfers have cut into the depth, and that opens the door for a player like Thompson.

It’s going to be interesting to see what he can do with his chance this spring.

Don’t forget about
Charone Peake was just as highly ranked as Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant coming out of high school, and when he has been healthy, he has been a terrific playmaker. He just hasn’t been healthy very much.

This spring is his final chance to kickstart a strong season as he enters his senior campaign, and he can provide plenty of leadership for the receivers group. He has been overshadowed for much of his career at Clemson, but this could be his time to shine … if he can break free of his bad luck with injuries.

Needing to step up (tight ends)
The tight end position was disappointing in 2014, and it’s time for one of the players there, any one of them, actually, to step up. It looks like that player should be Jordan Leggett, who had just 14 catches for 161 yards and one touchdown in 2014. Stanton Seckinger went down with a nasty-looking injury against South Carolina, and Jay Jay McCullough was suspended for the bowl game. Leggett is going to be a junior this fall, and it’s time for him to step up and lead this position group. The spring offers him the chance to get going in the right direction and become the player he has the talents to be. The redshirt (tight ends)
Milan Richard is a talented player from Savannah, and he is going to have a chance to make a real splash this spring at tight end. The position’s lack of depth and need for playmakers will give him a shot to do some damage this spring and get ready for a significant role in the fall. Key stat: Scott and Williams combined for 133 of Clemson’s 292 receptions and 1,995 of the team’s 3,404 receiving yards in 2014.

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