Is the new Ford ready to go?

CLEMSON - There was no doubt Clemson knew they had the right guy at wide receiver when Hanahan High School standout Brandon Ford caught 76 passes for 1,702 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.

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 spring.

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 level.

"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." Top Stories