It's amazing to think how quickly Clemson's offense has been transformed.
After all, it was just a year ago the Tigers had questions everywhere after the departure of all-world playmaker and top-five pick Sammy Watkins. At the time, Clemson was also still trying to figure out life without another first round draft choice in Nuk Hopkins as well.
But now with the emergence of QB Deshuan Watson and a strong running game, many of those questions have been answered.
Additionally, the strong seasons turned in by wide receiver Artavis Scott and Mike Williams now give the Tigers plenty of experienced weapons returning on the outside, creating a sudden log-jam of talent entering the 2015 season.
The thing is - it's really only the tip of the iceberg.
While Scott and Williams automatically give Clemson two of the most proven weapons in the ACC, other playmakers like Charone Peake and Germone Hopper have the potential to be enormous downfield threats as well. Hopper had his best season to date a year ago - a career high 27 receptions and Peake was actually ranked ahead of Sammy Watkins according to several recruiting services in 2010! Coming off a knee injury, who knows what the former five-star prospect is capable of this season.
And it doesn't stop there.
While pundits will gush over the proven talent already here, few understand the potential on the way later this summer.
That's right - with the signings of Ray Ray McCloud and Deon Cain this past February, Clemson has already acquired its next generation of playmakers, and they arguably have a higher upside than the proven commodities already running over opposing ACC defenses.
Cain has the potential to be the next Watkins and McCloud is similar to Artavis Scott, only more explosive.
I've suggested since Clemson started recruiting Cain he would be on the field for the first play from scrimmage if he came here. Playing as a quarterback for most of his final two seasons at Tampa Bay Tech (HS), Cain made the transition to wide out in the All-star game circuit seamlessly. Sure, his route running needs some fine-tuning, but you can't teach quickness. Like Watkins, if you get him the ball in the open field versus just one defender, he's going to take it to the house more times than not.
Meanwhile McCloud has the versatility to line up in the slot or in the backfield as a running back. Remember what West Virginia had with Tavon Austin all of those years? The quick screens, the end-around plays and the unbelievable speed shown on the edge game after game? That's what this offense now has with McCloud.
Like Cain, there's no chance he sits on the bench in his first season.
"We signed Deon and Ray Ray to play," Dabo Swinney tells CUTigers.com last week. "They've got to from a sheer numbers standpoint. They are going to help give us depth but most importantly they are going to make us better on the field."
Like the running back position, Clemson has more weapons than it knows what to do with at wide receiver this year, and each player brings a different skill set and amount of experience to the table. Even redshirt freshman Trevion Thompson was mentioned several times during spring practice as a new reliable downfield threat.
It's a great problem to have, really.
Yes, Scott and Williams are the headliners given what they did last year and have already developed outstanding chemistry with Deshaun Watson.
And both should continue to produce at near record levels and contend for ACC honors.
But don't be surprised to see one of these talented freshmen enter the fold in a major way too.
Amazingly enough, this wide receiving unit this year may be the most talented Clemson has ever put on the field, and don't be surprised if the production of this unit proves it by the time it's all said and done.
Clemson's WR competition
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