Swinney: Wide Receivers at Full Strength

CLEMSON – Clemson receivers coach Dabo Swinney distinctly remembers the first time the speed of freshman receiver Jacoby Ford made an impression. Of course it would be hard not to remember considering it was the first day of drills last winter.

"It didn't take long," Swinney said. "To be able to see him go in and out of a cut just like that (snaps his fingers). The first time we ran a bubble screen to him, he went about 70 and just left everybody. It didn't take long for his speed to show up."

It's because of that speed that Ford has become such a fan favorite and a curiosity among the coaching staff.

But the blazing speed is an afterthought for Ford. He's concerned on picking up the offense so he can get on the field and have a chance to use those legs.

"I'm starting to learn the concepts, now," he said. "There are a couple of things I'm messing up on, but I've just got to watch film this weekend."

Swinney said mistakes are the norm for freshmen, even for the ones that enrolled in January and had the entire spring to learn.

"The biggest thing is just knowing how to line up and knowing exactly what you're doing with motions and movements and shifts and how that changes your assignments," he said. "He understands more than he did in the spring, but he's still making freshman mistakes. Hopefully by this time next week, I will really see some progress in him."

Even so, it's still all about the speed.

While attending Fork Union Military Academy last year, Ford was clocked at 4.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Many believed there had to be a mistake in the timing when the numbers were read.

But they quickly learned the time was legit.

"When I go and do it three times straight, I don't think it's a fluke at all," Ford said. "Then I came here and ran a 4.16."

Ford will handle the punt and kickoff returns this year, as well as playing some receiver, which means it shouldn't take long before 80,000 onlookers get to see that speed up close and personal.

FIRST TEAM WIDE RECEIVERS: With all of the receivers back to full strength, Swinney said Rendrick Taylor, Aaron Kelly, Chansi Stuckey and Tyler Grisham are the four starting receivers in a four-receiver set.

Taylor, who is nursing a high ankle sprain, is still in newly created J position, but not to the extent that most thought. Swinney said he's a wideout 90 percent of the time and in the J 10 percent of the time.
In a two-receiver set, Grisham and Stuckey are at the Z slot, with Taylor and Kelly at the X.

Taylor, who is nursing a high ankle sprain, is still in newly created J position, but not to the extent that most thought. Swinney said he's a wideout 90 percent of the time and in the J 10 percent of the time.

Of the four, the one with the least amount of publicity is Grisham. For some reason, he always seems to be an afterthought. But that will likely quickly change.

"He's really going to have a great year," Swinney said. "He's going to be on the field a lot."

Swinney said the media and fans shouldn't stereotype Grisham as a "possession receiver."

"He's just a wideout," Swinney said. "He can run by you and score a touchdown or he can move the chains. Now, he's a great possession guy and if you get it around him, he's gonna make a play. I was a ‘possession guy.' That's for guys who can't run and Grisham can run. He's got some serious wheels on him."

YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS WITH C.J.: After every practice, Swinney keeps the receivers on the field to run some quick drills. However, he's had some extra company the last two days.

Freshman running back C.J. Spiller has been running receiving drills with them. For example, on Sunday he stayed behind to catch 100 passes from the Jugs machine.

But what makes Spiller's actions unique is that he's not required to do it. All the other running backs are already in the locker room when he's out there catching balls with the receivers.

"That's just the type of kid he is," Swinney said. "He goes to that machine everyday after practice and that's just part of his routine. That's why he's going to be a great player. He's got great work ethic and he studies."

Funny thing is, it's not like he needs the extra work. He doesn't exactly have hands of stone.

"Spiller has got great hands," Swinney said. "We're working with him at punt return and he's a natural, both he and Jacoby. He's got excellent hands. He just wants to get better."

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