Monday, January 20, 2014 12:29 PM
Wide Receiver U?
by David Hood
Senior Writer

Offensive coordinator Chad Morris and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott have the unenviable task of trying to replace Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, two dynamic playmakers that were a major factor in Clemson’s offense the past three seasons.

So, how do you replace two great playmakers? You go out and sign four playmakers in the 2014 recruiting class, allowing that talented group to join a bevy of talent already on campus.

The coaching staff got a verbal commitment from 4-star propsect Trevion Thompson Sunday afternoon, and he joins what might be the most talented wide receiver class of the 2014 recruiting cycle – he joins Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake), No. 83 in the ESPN 300, and Demarre Kitt (Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek), No. 167, and 4-star receiver Kyrin Priester (Snellville (GA) Brookwood and Fork Union).

Already on campus are Charone Peake, Adam Humphries, Mike Williams, T.J. Green and Germone Hopper, along with several veteran reserves. If all make it into school and into August healthy, will this be the most talent the Tigers have ever had at the position, a claim that Scott made about last year’s group?

They might have to be, because the Tigers have to replace a lot of offense in replacing Watkins and Bryant. Watkins had 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Bryant had 42 catches for 828 yards and seven touchdowns. That means that a whopping 143 of Tajh Boyd’s 283 completions were to Watkins and Bryant, and 2,292 yards of Boyd’s 3,851 passing yards were to those two. Oh, and 19 of his 34 touchdown passes.

However, that painful reality might be a little easier to handle because of all of the young talent soon to be arriving on campus. As of right now, the Tigers have four 4-star wideouts coming in, and the rest of the ACC has just six, according to ESPN. FSU has one, Miami has three, Pitt has one and Virginia has one.

Let’s take a look at all four of the 2014 committed prospects.

*Trevion Thompson – Thompson became the Tigers’ 19th commitment of the 2014 recruiting cycle when he gave his verbal Sunday afternoon. Thompson (6-2, 185) is ranked as the No. 20 wide receiver in the country by ESPN, and he sits at No. 152 on ESPN’s Top 300. During his senior season, Thompson caught 57 passes for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns. He chose Clemson over N.C. St., Ohio St., West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Thompson figures to slide in behind Williams at the “9-man” position in Clemson’s offense, the same position occupied by DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant the last two seasons. Thompson doesn’t have elite speed, but he looks good enough on film to stretch the field and make plays after the catch. ESPN’s recruiting gurus say that he reminds them of UCLA’s Shaquille Evans, who caught 47 passes for the Bruins this season.

Artavis Scott - Scott might be the replacement for Sammy Watkins. As a senior, he had 37 receptions for 542 yards and five touchdowns and 67 carries for 729 yards and 13 touchdowns. He figures to slide right into the “2-man” slot position. Humphries and Hopper will also get looks in the slot, but Scott has the kind of athletic ability that makes him a fit for the position.

He doesn’t have the top-end speed of Waktins (not many do) but he has good quickness off the line and a great first step after catching the ball. I watched Scott at Swinney’s camp this past summer, and while he doesn’t blow you away with any one thing, he jumps out at you with how many things he does well.

Demarre Kitt - Kitt had 48 receptions for 861 yards and seven touchdowns his senior season, and already has a good relationship with fellow freshman and Georgia native Deshaun Watson. Kitt is another one that does a lot of things well – he catches the ball well in traffic and I like his hands and how he catches the ball. Kitt is more of a possession guy who can surprise you by breaking tackles and making the big play.

I am not sure if he fits more on the inside or is more of a field receiver. However, I love his quickness off the line and how smooth he looks when changing direction. His size and strength are also assets.

Kyrin Priester - Priester was originally a 2013 signee but spent last season at Fork Union. As a senior, Priester caught 56 passes for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. I had several people close to the program tell me that had Priester been eligible last season, he would probably have played right away. The time at Fork Union has seemed to give him a little extra chip on is shoulder, and he told me last month that he was coming in to win a starting job.

He has good top-end speed (4.55 40-yard dash) but is also very physical at the point of attack. He is also very deceptive in his movements because of his size – a lot like Bryant. I have a feeling Clemson fans are going to love Priester.

David Hood can be reached at davidhood@tigernet.com