Spring Ball Preview: Wide Receiver (Part II)

The upexpected loss of Derrick Hamilton prompted several moves by the Clemson coaching staff this offseason. For starters, Chansi Stuckey and Gerald McCloud were both moved to wide out. How will these two changes effect the two-deep depth chart this year? What about Chris Jefferson?

Yesterday, we took at look at the top returning receivers for the Tigers this spring. Today, we take our analysis even deeper with some insight on former QB Chansi Stuckey and former DB Gerald McCloud, who have both moved over to offense.

We'll also take a look at Tennessee transfer Michael Collins and redshirt freshman Chris Jefferson, as both players look to move into prominent roles within the offense during spring ball.

On paper, Stuckey figures to be the one player out of this group that should be in a position to see the most action this spring.

"He's jumping into it with two feet," said wide receivers' coach Dabo Swinney. "It's just a good move for Chansi, and a good move for us as well. He's a natural playmaker, and a guy that can step in right away and help us out in a number of ways."

As a quarterback, he demonstrated his playmaking ability on the ground with several electrifying runs during the 2003 season, including a 33-yard touchdown to provide the final margin of victory in a 63-17 romp over South Carolina.

Overall, he finished the year with 17 rushes for 136 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and 11-of-21 passing for 2 more scores.

"I like playing wide receiver," said Stuckey in a recent interview. "They felt like I could help the team out more there, so I'm happy making the switch. I just look at it as an opportunity to have the ball in my hands more, and I like that."

Stuckey is one receiver on the team that has the same sort of elusiveness of former Tiger Derrick Hamilton. Watching him on film, it's easy to see that he has a second gear that most players on the field lack.

Michael Collins only brought in 4 catches in 2003, but he'll be called upon to increase his productivity significantly in 2004.
This spring, his development becomes of prime importance for many reasons. One, the Tigers appear to be short on the total number of players at wide out. Two, the loss of Derrick Hamilton creates the immediate need for another playmaker to be inserted into the line-up. And three, should Airese Currie go down injury, Stuckey would likely become the go-to receiver for the Tigers this fall.

Another player who will be making the switch to wide receiver, is Jacksonville native Gerald McCloud.

McCloud spent last year in the secondary, getting in mostly on special teams, but with the current numbers' crunch, the coaching staff elected to move him to the other side of the ball this offseason.

McCloud is a tall, athletic player with good hands. During his senior season at Arlington Country Day, he rushed for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns, and also added 523 yards and five touchdowns receiving.

"We moved Gerald over, and we are excited about what he brings to the table for us," said Swinney. "He's a guy that's always had good hands, he's got good speed, and he's used to having the ball in his hands."

Interestingly enough, this is the third time the redshirt sophomore has made a position switch during his Clemson career.

Perhaps the one player that has yet to really tap into his full potential is Michael Collins. The 6-foot-4 205 pound junior has all the physical ability in the world, but for whatever reason, he struggled for consistent playing time during his first year of eligibility.

Now that Youngblood and Hamilton are gone however, the former Tennessee transfer figures to make the biggest impact of his career this season. At the very least, he'll increase his career reception total of 4 (49 yards) to at least 4 to 5 times that in 2004.

And then there's Chris Jefferson.

Jefferson has impressed the coaching staff during his first year at Clemson, and figures to see significant action this spring. How he performs this spring however, is anyone's guess.

From initial reports, he's a player that isn't as fast as Currie, isn't as tall as Collins, and doesn't have the elusiveness of Stuckey, but he may have the best hands of the bunch.

If anything, more questions exist this spring at wide receiver than at anytime in recent memory:

Will Airese Currie stay healthy?

Can Chansi Stuckey step in for Derrick Hamilton?

Is the light finally going to go on for Kelvin Grant?

Can a new name emerge as a player who brings in 25+ receptions in 2004?

If the Tigers are going to duplicate their offensive success of a year ago, we'll likely hear a resounding "yes" to many of the questions posed above.

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