McCloud says Swinney asked for his foot back prior to spring game


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McCloud scores on a pass from Deshaun Watson
McCloud scores on a pass from Deshaun Watson

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney felt like he needed his foot back, and Ray-Ray McCloud delivered.

Swinney has been vocal this spring about needing to see more out of McCloud, a rising sophomore out of Tampa’s Sickles High School. McCloud came to Clemson as the nation’s number two receiver (Rivals), and with his high ranking came certain expectations.

McCloud finished sixth on the team in receptions last season, catching 29 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. But the coaches wanted to see more, and McCloud responded with three catches for 98 yards in Saturday’s spring game. Included in that number was an exciting 61-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“Coach Elliott came to me, and he said they were biting really hard on it. They had been biting on it a lot - we play them every day so they know our plays,” McCloud told TigerNet after the game. “He felt like the defensive back was biting a lot on it and he wanted me to come off and get a feeling for it. If he went inside, he wanted me to take one step and go upfield, which he was, or go three steps and go on his outside shoulder. He bit on it hard and I went over the top and I don't think the safety was able to help. That's how the play went, and I was able to score and make a play. That's what has been big this spring is finishing plays.”

Swinney certainly liked the play because it means he gets his foot back – the same foot that has been lodged up McCloud’s backside all spring as the head coach pushes his talented receiver.

“Coach Swinney actually asked me when he was going to get his foot back, because it's been up my butt all spring,” McCloud said. “He was trying to get me a little more mature and consistent, which I've been working on. I love the feeling of him being on me like that and working for him. Coach Elliott and Coach Scott have been on me and making me a better player.”

McCloud said the toughest part of the college game has been refining his technique.

“I would say it's more technique stuff. Stop using my talent and come off using technique and learn the game,” he said. “Everyone is talented and fast, but the game speed wise is kind of the same for me. It was more of using my technique and getting better separation from the defensive back.”

McCloud was injured towards the end of last season, and he told TigerNet he finally felt healthy towards the end of spring practice.

“It was hard for me. That was my first time being injured like that. I just put it in God's hands. I've been doing pretty good. My recovery has been great. I've still got some little stuff that I've got to get right, but other than that I'm using the time we get off to rest and go to treatment to get back stronger. I've been working out. It's getting a lot better.

“Towards the end of it I was healthy,” McCloud said. “I wore my brace for the first five days because it was hurting a little bit and I was wanting to get it a lot stronger and get back to running full speed and running routes. I had to get back to myself.”

In the meantime, he doesn’t mind a little tough love from his head coach.

“I don't take any looks from it,” he said. “I love it and it's pushing me and making me a better player.”

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