Ford's big catch a glimpse of the future

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Saturday’s 31-28 win over Wake Forest was an emotional one for Clemson junior tight end Brandon FordBrandon Ford
RS Jr. Tight End
#80 6-4, 235
Wando, SC

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Ford said this week that this senior class and the leadership they have shown has been the cornerstone of the Tigers’ 9-1 start, and he was determined his seniors were not leaving Death Valley with a loss.

He looked up at the scoreboard and saw his Tigers trailing 28-14, and when Clemson got inside the Wake red zone late in the third quarter, he went up to offensive coordinator Chad Morris.

“I had already told the seniors that I was going to make a play,” Ford said this week. “Then I told coach Morris, and I told him he could count on me, and then I told him which play I thought I could get open on. We ran that play, and I got the touchdown, and after the game he came up to me and gave me a big old hug. I was very emotional because I wanted to make a play for our seniors.”

The touchdown reception was a seven-yarder from quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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on the side of the end zone, a play that was later reviewed by officials as they tried to determine if Ford, who had come back in to the field of play from out of bounds, had been pushed out or went out on his own.

“When I turned around, the defensive back was kind of between me and Tajh,” Ford said. “So I tried to go around him, and he gave me a little shove and I went out of bounds. I saw the ball coming my way, and my only thought right then was to catch the ball and make sure my feet were in bounds. I looked the ball in, and looked down to make sure my feet were still in. Had he not touched me at all they wouldn’t have ruled it a catch. The referee confirmed it, reviewed it again. It took a while. Thank God he reviewed and confirmed it. It helped us win the game.”

Boyd has said that Ford has the best hands of any player on the team, and Ford said that goes back to his junior year at Hanahan High School.

“When I was a junior, I might drop two and catch three one week and then the next week I would drop three and catch two,” he said. “So my head coach and my receivers coach would go out there and throw tennis balls to me. They would throw them hard, and I had to concentrate on catching those little balls with one hand, and it made me a better receiver. Once I got here, I knew that my strengths were my size and my hands, but you only get better by working harder and I try to go out there and catch extra balls every day.”

It is because of his size (6-4, 235) that Clemson coaches moved him from wide receiver to tight end last season. His biggest question to the coaching staff regarded playing time.

“When [tight ends] coach [Danny] Pearman, [wide receivers] coach Jeff Scott and coach Swinney approached me, I asked them, ‘Do you think my role will increase?” Ford said. “I told them, ‘Let’s give this another try. It’s another challenge.’”

He quickly learned that blocking defensive linemen is a lot different than trying to block safeties and cornerbacks, and he said he found it rough trying to take on the likes of Jarvis JenkinsJarvis Jenkins
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-4, 315
Clemson, SC

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and Da’Quan Bowers in practice.

“I’m only 215 at the time,” Ford said. “Both those guys were right at 300. It was a little scary at first. I didn’t think it’d be that hard. The physical part is what you’ve got to bring every day. You can’t just go in there and butt a guy like you do at receiver.”

Morris said this that week that the physical part of Ford’s game is something that the junior needs to continually work on.

“Brandon, he’s got a spot on this football team, he’s made some huge catches for us over the last few weeks and has done a good job blocking,” Morris said. “But to get more reps, play, get more consistent in the rotation, he’s got to become more physical. That’s my challenge to him. Believe me, I’ve patted him on the back. But he still needs to understand, we’ve got to continue to push that physical button.”

Starting tight end Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 255
Fayetteville, NC

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is rated as the No.1 tight end in the 2012 NFL draft by ESPN, and that leaves Ford in line as Clemson’s next starter – and possibly star- at that spot in Morris’ offense, something that his quarterback says is possible.

“He’s phenomenal,” Boyd said of Ford. “They’ve got Dwayne rated as the No.1 tight end this year, and I believe he can be the No.1 tight end next year. He’s one of those hybrid guys who plays tight end but can play receiver. If the ball’s in the air, he’s coming down with it.”

Ford said he is going to continue to listen to Morris, in case he has to step into the breach.

“He {Morris] says every day, you’re not 250, 260 pounds, you have to work on technique,” Ford said. “You can’t think slowly in a game. We do drills all day, and I tell him every day after practice, thank you for being my coach. I don’t regret moving to your room. I need to be ready in case Dwayne does move on, or in case something happens in a game this season. I want to take advantage of every opportunity I have.”

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