I'm Not Losing Any Sleep

I enjoyed a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner with 8 good friends Friday night. Several of them, bless their heart, are diehard Gamecock fans. Of course the conversation quickly turned to football, recruiting, and next year. And a curious comment by my Gamecock friend got me thinking.

"Scott, are you worried now that your two best receivers are gone?," he said.

I paused for a moment, gathered my thoughts, and simply replied "No." When pushed about it with a follow up question, I answered my Gamecock friends question by asking him a question in return.

"Name three N.C. State receivers from last year," I quipped. He paused, almost dumbfounded. But he could not answer the question.

"Ok, I'll ask an easier one for you. Name three receivers from Ole Miss last year."

Again, silence.

"Maybe you can name three wide receivers from Florida last year, then." He mustered up a name or two, but he did not have three.

He was getting the point and a light bulb went off in my head at the same time.

We are just fine at wide receiver next year.

College football, at least offensively, is all about the quarterbacks. If you got a good one, you can throw the ball. If you don't, you can't. The wide receivers are not the cog that makes the wheel spin.

Granted, I'd love to have Derrick Hamilton back. Hamilton started all this concern at wide receiver when he announced he will forgo his senior season to head to the NFL.

Mike McIntosh punctuated the concern by jumping ship on signing day a couple of weeks ago.

Some Clemson fans became concerned, and many South Carolina fans saw a crack in the Clemson steamboat.

Don't hold your breath.

N.C. State was great at throwing the football because of Philip Rivers. Ole Miss was great at throwing the football because of Eli Manning. They both had solid receivers to throw the ball to. However, neither had a stable of NFL type guys catching the ball.

Clemson is no worse, and possibly better, than State and Ole Miss were at receiver last year.

Airese Currie, Curtis Baham, Kelvin Grant, and Chansi Stuckey are certainly no slouches and possibly stars waiting to burn.

The fulltime move of Chansi Stuckey to wide receiver this offseason may not be getting the attention it deserves.
Currie was Clemson's best receiver before he severely turned his ankle in College Park in game 5 last year. Curtis Baham had; in essence, equalled Tony Elliott's production towards the end of the season. The bad news that surrounded Kelvin Grant's academic issues has quieted for the meantime. And the move of Chansi Stuckey gives the Clemson offensive coaches a multitude of options for the most dangerous player on the team.

And all of those receivers have the luxury of Charlie Whitehurst throwing them the ball. Whitehurst is maybe the most accurate passer Clemson has ever put on the field and he most certainly will break every quarterback record (except rushing yards) before he leaves.

Whitehurst is Philip Rivers with a better arm. He has the head to lead the team as well as the demeanor. Whitehurst will be compared to Rivers over the next 2 years, but a better comparison for him may be to Eli Manning.

Rivers never has been looked at as an NFL prospect, although he most certainly will be drafted somewhere and get a shot at the NFL. But Rivers' awkward throwing motion and lack of arm strength mean he most likely will not be playing in the NFL next year.

Manning, maybe because of his lineage, is poised to be a first round draft pick. Manning has the arm strength and the pocket presence that NFL scouts drool over. Whether they younger Manning develops into a starter in the NFL remains to be seen. But he most certainly will get his shot.

Two years from now we will be talking about Charlie Whitehurst in the same manner.

If Charlie can avoid injuries and continue to improve at a rate similar to what he has done since taking over the offense before the Duke game in 2002, his stock in the eyes of the NFL will be greater than River's and similar to Manning's.

All of which should allow you to sleep soundly in the off-season in terms of the wide receivers coming back this year.

Because they are good, and maybe even really good.

And, they have a great quarterback throwing them the ball.

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