Joe Craig looks to become more than just a "speed guy"

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Joe Craig paced the sidelines at Clemson home games last season, just itching for the chance to get into the games and help his teammates.

That chance never came as the speedy receiver from Gaffney High School was given a redshirt for the 2010 season.

But the competitive fires still burned, and Craig agonized over every dropped pass he saw out on the field.

“It’s like being in jail, and you know your brother is getting beat up and you can’t do anything to help him,” Craig said of his redshirt season. “I knew I wasn’t going to start last season, but I thought I would get some playing time on kickoff returns and things like that. And when they told me I was going to redshirt, yeah, that made me mad. And as the season progressed and I saw the receivers dropping passes, I wished they would have removed it because I thought I could really help the team.”

However, as he learns another playbook this spring, Craig said he realizes now that the redshirt was the best thing that could have happened to him. He admits that he struggled with his size, his route running and the substantial Clemson playbook.

“He can flat out fly. It was just size,” said Swinney of why Craig was redshirted last season. “He's a work in progress physically. He had a hard time picking everything up. It just wasn't the best thing for him. We thought a couple times we should just bite the bullet and play him. Hopefully four years from now we say we are glad we redshirted him.”

Now, a year older, he has added some bulk and is embracing the offense of new coordinator Chad Morris.

“I honestly think the redshirt helped me a lot,” he said. “I got stronger, and I got more into the game. I have watched a lot of film, and coach Morris has broken it down for me and made me into a better athlete. And last year, the play call was over a sentence long. Coach Morris has simplified that – the play call is only four or five words – and you can just go out and get lined up and get focused on the play.”

Obviously, Craig’s speed is his biggest asset – he says he ran a 4.28 second 40-yard dash in high school – which puts him in the same breath as former Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford. He also ran the 100 meters in 10.92 seconds as a two-sport star at Gaffney High, but Craig said he wants to be known as more than just a speed guy.

“You know, they think I am just a fast track guy that plays football,” he says. “But I want them to say that I am a football guy that runs track. Right now, I have to help the team out, and I know that is by using my speed in a lot of ways. Right now, though, my goal is to get a starting spot. Then I will go from there and worry about those other things.”

Now, he feels like he needs to convince the coaches – and the other players – that he is more than raw speed.

“I need to come out to practice every day, and play physical and get that starting spot,” he said. “That is what I have been working the hardest on. I want to be known as a receiver and not just a speed guy. And for me to do that, this is the offense I need to be in.”

He also admits that last season he wasn’t totally focused on football, but the year of added maturity has helped him in more ways than one.

“Coach [Jeff] Scott has worked with me a lot, just one-on-one,” he said. “And that has really helped me focus. Last year, when I had free time, I would go somewhere and hang out. Now, when I have free time I just go watch film and learn my routes.”

Rate this Story:
24 votes

Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment

Monday's Clemson practice report

Swinney announces starter at quarterback

Swinney announces starting QB, lists who will likely play and who will redshirt

WATCH: McCloud discusses playing cornerback

WATCH: Carter sees depth as key to Clemson DBs surprising

Fuller: "I feel like I had a pretty good camp"

Renfrow on Bryant: 'We know that he's the guy'

WATCH: Swinney after Monday's practice

WATCH: Clemson Police releases Star Wars Eclipse video
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Daily Digest