SUNSET, S.C.—Clemson has worked hard to earn the moniker of wide receiver university or “WRU” through years of relentless recruiting and the willingness to play receivers based on their talent level—not their grade or seniority.
Whether it was Sammy Watkins, Nuk Hopkins, or even recently Mike Williams and a little-known walk-on by the name of Hunter Renfrow–one thing is certain for anyone looking to play receiver at WRU, if you earn it, you will play.
And that holds true this season, as the Tigers will look to continue their tradition of dynamic, playmakers with the enrollment of Tee Higgins and Amari Rogers.
With less than one week before the Tigers open camp, the man who recruited these two out of the state of Tennessee can’t wait to finally get on the field with them.
“The early reports have been very good and obviously excited about getting out there with them…getting on the grass,” co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott said. “You know, you recruit these guys for two or three years, and then you have to wait until August before you can really get on the field with them for the first time.
“As a coach, there’s nothing more exciting than getting that next group of guys coming in and being able to get out there with them for the first couple weeks. See exactly how they responds, how quickly they can pick things up and learn. But I think both of those guys are going to be fun guys to watch.”
Both Higgins and Rogers were thought to be remaining in state, and attending the University of Tennessee—the school Rogers committed to in his junior year. But, ultimately, they would leave the orange of Tennessee for a darker shade of orange—Clemson orange.
Now, as the former No. 2 (Higgins) ranked wide receiver in the nation and the No. 12 ranked wide receiver in the nation prepare to begin their first fall camp, Scott believes that these two special players can have an immediate impact on the Tigers offense—similar to another highly ranked recruit.
“I really do (think they can be ready to help the Tigers in the first two games), it’s hard to guess,” Scott said. “I can remember about five years ago; Sammy Watkins was coming in… Sammy was coming in and my dad (Brad Scott) and I were having a conversation about this time of year–right around the media time. Kind of talking about, when do you think Sammy will be ready?
“My prediction, of course I hadn’t worked with him at all, just listening and watching him in high school, I said, ‘Right about game three, game four, Auburn, Florida State–that’ll probably be the time he’ll be ready.’ Then right after the first practice, I went to my dad and said, ‘He’s ready.’ We had been out there in shorts for one day–that’s the extreme. We’ve had some really talented guys and I did a whole lot in that one practice right there.”
The point of that story was simple—you never know about any of these recruits until the coaches have an opportunity to finally put their hands on them. But the good news for Scott and the rest of the coaching staff is with returning receivers Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow, Cornell Powell, Diondre Overton and Trevion Thompson, they will not be forced to play earlier than when they are ready.
“The good news for both Tee and Amari is that there not going to be forced to have to go out there,” Scott said. “There are some years where these talented guys are coming in and they really to play early. They had to learn by fire, and I don’t think that Tee or Amari’s going to have to be in that situation. If they show enough during fall camp, and they’re ready then we’ve definitely shown in the past that we’re going to play freshmen and give those guys opportunities.
“Then how they do early depends on how much more opportunity they get through those next few games early in the year. Obviously, it’s very early to predict that, but I’m very optimistic that both of those will have an opportunity to help us this fall.”