Frank Ladson emerges as deep threat in win over The Citadel
|Sunday, September 20, 2020, 12:01 PM- -|
CLEMSON – With Justyn Ross on the shelf this season, one of the questions surrounding Clemson’s inexperienced receivers was who would emerge as the deep threat.
That question might have gotten an answer Saturday when sophomore Frank Ladson broke loose for three receptions for 87 yards and two scores. The first score was a 17-yarder in which he showed great hands and body control while taking the ball away from the defender. The second one was a burst of pure speed, a 54-yard pitch-and-catch from Trevor Lawrence.
Ladson missed time at the start of last fall while recovering from an ankle injury, and missed part of this year’s camp in COVID-19 protocol. The win over The Citadel provided a much-needed boost to his ego.
“I feel like it definitely builds my confidence up,” Ladson said of his breakout performance, “but I go to practice every day. We (he and Lawrence) practice every day together, and my confidence was already there, it’s just great to do it come game time. It was great to just get that out there.”
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told the media that Ladson just needs the chance to play.
“Huge for him because he’s a guy that we know is very talented, just needs opportunities and through those opportunities to develop consistently, and I think that’s going to help his confidence,” Elliott said. “So, it was good for him to come out and make some plays.”
Lawrence – who finished the day by completing 8-of-9 passes for 168 yards and three scores – says he has confidence in Ladson.
“Just a great player — big playmaker, can really come in the game wherever, a couple different positions,” Lawrence said. “He’s versatile, and that’s helped us a lot being able to insert him at a few different places. And then when he’s in there, he’s flashy. He can run like you saw today, he just runs past people. Also, other than that, he’s just smart. I think it says a lot when you can put a guy like that and move him around because that means he knows the whole offense, he knows every position.
“So, I’ve been really impressed with just his knowledge of the game and how well he’s handled everything.”
Elliott said that he expects to see more of the same from Ladson and fellow sophomore Joseph Ngata.
“It’s going to be huge,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy that we had high expectations for, and unfortunately he was hit with the protocol situation during camp and missed some reps. But it’s good to see him going because that gives us a lot of flexibility when you’ve got him and Joe into the boundary or you can get him and Joe on the field at the same time.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney said that the biggest difference he’s seen in Ladson is his how the Florida native has changed his body since arriving last year – he currently sits at 6-3, 205 pounds.
“He’s completely transformed his body in a year,” Swinney said. “If you really go back and look at him when he first got here to where he is now physically, it’s just night and day. He has really developed from a physical standpoint. He’s incredibly fast, but he’s playing fast. He didn’t always play fast as a freshman learning. He’s playing fast now, and just more confidence.”