Deon Cain on his goals: I know I have a bigger role this year


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Cain works out during Thursdays practice
Cain works out during Thursdays practice

CLEMSON – Deon Cain knows this is his year. He also knows that he’s now one of the leaders on a young offense, and he’s splitting his time being a mentor to young superstars like Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins and honing his own craft.

He also has specific goals in mind.

The junior out of Florida figures to start at Clemson’s 9-man receiver position this season, the spot previously held by stalwarts (and NFL players) like Nuk Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, and Mike Williams. Cain caught 34 passes for 582 yards as a freshman, and increased his totals to 38 receptions for 724 yards a year ago.

This year, if he reaches his goals, he will be a thousand-yard receiver with close to 30 touchdown receptions.

“Every game I am expected to get two touchdowns and 100 yards,” Cain said after Saturday’s practice. “If that doesn’t happen, then I feel like I have failed.”

However, he stressed that he doesn’t feel like he has to carry the offense.

“I don’t really look at myself as ‘the guy’. I already look at every game as a game where I just attack the best I can, one by one,” Cain said. “So I just see Kent State just as an opponent and to attack it.”

He’s also fitting into his role as team leader, and even participated in "Skills and Drills" with the youngsters.

“I’ve seen a lot of great things out of the young guys. They progress and follow the playbook very well,” Cain said. “‘Skills and Drills’ this summer was a big deal for them and you can see it translate on to the field. It’s new because I was always that one who was looking behind Mike or Peake and all the other guys so now I just feel weird that I am that guy now. I always just lean on my teammates and just lead by example. I always see myself as a leader. It is nothing to me to just always push my teammates and see myself get better and all my teammates get better.”

Cain reported to camp at a svelte 192 pounds after playing at 210 last season, and he hopes he shows even more athleticism.

“I know I have a bigger role this year and I know I have to do a little more than what I had to last year, so I am just trying to be a little more athletic,” he said. “I have been doing a lot of shoulder work and a lot of speed work. I know I've got to play a lot more plays on the field and I've got to get my endurance up so it is just a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I am at a good weight and feel good.

“I just want to have my body in the perfect place for that so I don’t have to get called out on plays. I want to be in there for all 65 plays with that. I gained a lot last year so I am really just trying to slow it down so I am not a little heavier because, in the season, you've got options for any type of food so really just trying to maintain that and keep my body around 200.”

He also worked on honing the technical part of his game during the offseason.

"Just being physical at the point of attack and attacking the ball out of the air,” Cain said. “A lot of people see me as just a deep ball threat and that was just my role last year and I could not help it, but this year is more about being a complete receiver. That’s pretty much it. Just getting right on my time and run routes better.”


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