|by Nikki Steele|
DeAndre Hopkins. Martavis Bryant. Sammy Watkins. Jaron Brown. All four of the above have played at Clemson in recent years, but all now ply their trade in the NFL and if the current crop of receivers wants to uphold the legacy set by those players, it starts in 2014.
Clemson has new faces at the wide receiver position with freshmen Artavis Scott, Demarre Kitt, and Kyrin Priester, along with sophomore Mike Williams, but Williams said that as a group they are ready to write their own history.
“Sammy, Nuk, Tay - they left a good legacy,” Williams said after Monday’s morning practice session. “This is the start of the 2014 chapter and we're looking forward to writing a good a book for y'all.”
The 2014 receiving corps has a tough task ahead, having to replace 53-percent of 2013’s receiving yards and 48-percent of the receiving touchdowns, but Williams said that there’s no pressure.
“There isn't any pressure,” Williams said. “We're all going to come together as a group and do what Sammy and Tay did last year. All of the young kids - Artavis, Demarre, Kyrin- they're all doing great out there. They are all making some plays.”
Williams knows that he will need to step up and become the premier receiver in Chad Morris’ system if the offense is going to be successful, and he said that he worked all summer to become that guy.
“That's why I was working this summer - to be that guy and have the quarterbacks look for me when I'm on the field,” he said.
Watkins and Bryant were a threat to go deep on every play, and Williams said that he takes pride in being able to run the deep routes and use his frame to go up over receivers in the endzone to make plays.
“All of the quarterbacks and wide receivers worked on deep balls a lot,” he said. “Being the nine-man, you've got to work on the deep balls and going up to high-point the ball. That's something that I've been doing since I was in high school, so I won't have a problem with doing that. I just have to take my game to the next level - the college level.”
Williams took the time to study Watkins’ game and incorporate it into his own, to become the total package for quarterback Cole Stoudt.
“Sammy Watkins is a great athlete. I try to take every part of his game and put it with mine,” he said. “As you know, he was a complete receiver. He played without the ball real good and just blocked down the field. That's what I'm trying to do with my game - play without the ball.”
Williams spent the summer working with two of Clemson’s top cornerbacks so that he could compete against the best to hone in his skills.
“Just trying to focus on getting in and out of my routes faster,” Williams said. “Working on my releases and making my catches during contact. Over the summer, I was just working on one-on-one drills with MacKensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley and working on my releases. Catching a lot of deep balls.
“Mackensie, he's a great corner and he's physical, so I just wanted to go up against somebody physical so I could work on my hands and my releases. Cordrea, he's real long, so going up against him, I got to use my size and be physical with him, also.”
In addition to his work on the field, he also tried to become a better leader for the younger receivers who will need someone to look up to as they transition to the college level.
“Since I'm a sophomore, the coaches want me to be a leader so I'm stepping up to take on that job and just be a leader,” he said. “It's not strange because I've been a leader since my freshman year in high school. I have that feel for carrying the team and being a leader.”
#Clemson #NewWRU #BestPlay4CU pic.twitter.com/O9Q5zZP5wy— Coach Jeff Scott (@coach_jeffscott) July 28, 2014
Nikki Steele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org