Lots of familiar faces this spring are looking to cement their paths to becoming household names this fall.
Last spring, the Tigers entered practice for the first time in four years without the services of Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham. This time, the group's without Jacoby Ford.
Simply put, it's high time for someone to step up.
Third-year sophomore Jaron Brown continues to build his practice field resume this spring, and he's turning the right heads, especially coach Dabo Swinney's.
"If you come out to practice and you don't notice him, you need to take your glasses off," Swinney said after Wednesday's practice and scrimmage. "He just jumps out at you."
In 11 games last season, Brown had just three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was an 18-yard screen pass on Homecoming against Coastal Carolina.
In addition, he and the rest of the Clemson wide receivers had fewer receptions than Ford, who had a team-high 56.
"As a group, I think we are a lot stronger than where we were last year," Brown said. "We're still improving and we continue to get better every day."
When it comes to his own play, Brown readily admits that he's got mistakes that need ironing out.
"Coming back to the ball and in certain situations, deep throws," he said. "I've got to make those plays."
In Wednesday's scrimmage, Brown ran underneath a throw from redshirt quarterback Donny McElveen on a fly route, making the 60-yard touchdown catch in perfect stride.
But it's a mistake here and another mistake there that seem to be preventing him from taking the proverbial next step.
"In one situation, I ran a choice route. I didn't convert to (it)," Brown said. "That's one thing I need to work on and improve on."
He wants to become a "more complete" receiver, not just one that's capable of making a play with the ball. That means becoming a more reliable blocker.
On a slant completion to Xavier Dye, Brown was a few yards ahead of Dye, blocking defensive backs. Right after the whistle ended the play, wide receivers coach Jeff Scott praised Brown for his work up field.
"I'm working on all phases of the game," Brown said, "blocking, catching—everything."
As the depth chart continues to be tweaked this spring, each of the receivers are rotating in and out between, first-, second- and third-team groups.
It's an intense competition among the group that Brown said, "has got to step up."
With 143 of last season's 220 completions gone to graduation, there's plenty of room to be filled.
Brown making a move
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