The Wando (S.C.) native was one of the more sought after receivers in the country as he won All-State honors and finished third in the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Clemson had itself a player, and was feeling pretty good about the future
of the X or the boundary side of the formation. That was until Ford ran a
slant pattern across the middle in the Tigers' first scrimmage this past
When he got there, he heard DeAndre McDaniel's footsteps, and Clemson wide
receivers coach Jeff Scott thought he was looking at a bust.
"We threw him two slants and he went in there a little tentative and the
ball hit him right in the chest both times and it popped up in the air,"
Scott recalled. "You're thinking 'he isn't quite ready.'"
But he was.
Instead of putting his head down and giving up on the spring, Ford got
back up, dusted himself off and proceeded to be one of the biggest
surprises of the next 21 days. In fact the very next week, he hauled in four catches for
more than 100 yards and caught two touchdowns, including a 60-yard pass
from Michael Wade.
"The very next scrimmage it was like he said 'Okay, I know what it feels
like, I can do it.' Then he just went and caught everything we threw to
him," Scott said.
Ford continued to look like Fred Biletnikoff in the following practices
and finished up the spring with a respectable two catches for 29 yards in
the spring game, including one third down pass for 17 yards in which he
climbed the sky to grab a first down.
"I just want to make plays when I get the chance so I can show the coaches
what I can do," Ford said.
Ford showed the coaches a lot, and will enter fall camp in a battle with
Brandon Clear to become the second-team wideout at X.
"I think the biggest thing for Brandon is that he has to get stronger,"
Scott said. "He has a really good frame. He reminds me kind of what Rod
Gardner might have looked like as a freshman.
"He has big, broad shoulders, but he has to get in the weight room and get
a little bit stronger. That backside at X, you're going to get a lot of
press coverage from the best corner they have. Teams usually put him right
there in the boundary.
"I think the biggest thing for Brandon is he needs a great summer in the
weight room strength wise and then also foot speed. He needs to continue
to improve on that."
Though he is pleased with Ford's progress, Scott says the next step for
the redshirt freshman is to go and prove it in a game when he gets the
chance and then prove he can be consistent at it.
"I think it is hard for a guy who is just a redshirt freshman and expect
him to go out there and make the plays that will win you the game in that
environment," the Clemson coach said. "Spring practice is one thing, but
getting it right in the fall and getting ready, that is a whole different
"We will put all of those guys out there, but depending on how they are
able to respond will depend on how they are able to help us this year."
Is the new Ford ready to go?
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