Clemson Wide Receiver Analysis
Today we breakdown the starters, the depth, the incoming class and the recruiting board at wide receiver.
Airese Currie (5-11, 185) is entering his senior year and there are still question marks about his season. However, there are less questions entering this season than any other. Only injuries kept Currie from being the Tigers best wide receiver last season. When he was healthy he was just that. Currie is perhaps the fastest wide receiver in the country. We think he is poised for a monster senior season considering how much he improved under Dabo Swinney. His improvement from sophomore to junior season was incredible.
Curtis Baham (6-1, 190) is listed as the other starter but this position could go to several Tigers and don't forget that the Tigers will be in the three and four wide out set often. Baham had 22 receptions last season and continues to improve heading into his junior year. Baham is a solid receiver that also found his playing time increased with the arrival of coach Swinney.
Chansi Stuckey (6-0, 180) made the transition to wide receiver much easier than anyone could have expected. We knew Stuckey had great open field ability. What we did not know was how he could adjust to the other aspects of playing wide receiver. He proved that he could catch the football well. He also showed more toughness than anyone could imagine. Swinney compares Stuckey to another player he coached, Alabama's all-time receiving leader Freddie Milons.
Kelvin Grant (6-2, 215) came out of high school as an All-American. He has yet to live up to that potential but the Tigers have not needed that yet. That too has changed as Clemson will need Grant to be Grant this season. There are times he shows that potential but his consistency will determine his success this season.
Michael Collins (6-4, 218) is the big receiver threat that could see his role increased this season. Collins does not run well but has made a few plays so far. We hear about his hands having to improve but Collins seems to catch the ball better in games and the spring game.
Chris Jefferson (6-2, 175) red shirted last year and his role will increase each year. He still needs to become stronger and more consistent but potential to be a solid performer is there.
Gerald McCloud (6-2, 195) looked fantastic in his redshirt season at wide receiver but spent last season in the secondary. If he can regain the confidence at his natural position then we think his playing time will exceed Collins' and Jefferson's.
The Incoming Class
Andrew Diamonde (6-2, 185) was a late addition to the Tigers signing class after Mike McIntosh signed with Florida. Diamonde has a good senior season and had other Division I offers. He is a bright prospect that will get a look in camp.
La'Dontae Harris (6-0, 180) committed to Clemson early in the process and stuck with the Tigers throughout. He is another solid prospect that could see time as a kick returner in his Clemson career. Harris catches the ball well and runs well. We think he has the second most potential of the three wide outs coming in this year.
Aaron Kelly (6-5, 175) is the wide receiver with the most upside in this class. We love Kelly's height and ability to go up and get the football. We do think that he will have to spend at least a year getting stronger and adjusting to the college game. We love the 6-5 frame and the 4.45 speed on this prospect.
The Recruiting Board
Rendrick Taylor (6-2, 210) is ranked one of the top five rising seniors in the state of South Carolina this year and already had offers from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Oklahoma, Alabama, Stanford, and Miami. His early commitment to Clemson was huge. Last season as a junior, Taylor recorded 30 catches for 803 yards and 11 touchdowns and on defense the safety had eight interceptions. He returned two kicks for touchdowns as well. Taylor could graduate in December and enroll in college in January and participate in spring practice of 2005. He is one of the best looking physical specimens in the South.
Tyler Grisham (5-11, 185) of Birmingham, AL committed to the Tigers after camping there again this season. Clemson started recruiting Grisham after last year's camp. One high school coach who was at the camp told us, "He has burner speed plus he plays so hard. Grisham can play wide out or corner. We always talk about players' motors and who goes hard all of the time and that is what you get here. That kid can really run."
C.J. Byrd (6-3, 185) of North Augusta, SC is the state of South Carolina's top prospect because of his athleticism and his versatility. Byrd makes things look easy. He is very athletic. This is a prospects with good size and speed but his fluid mobility is another attribute. Byrd needs to improve his hands like a lot of top high school receivers. Byrd breaks on the ball well in the passing game as a safety. He is also a good open field tackler. We think he may be a better safety at the next level. His offer list includes, well almost everyone. Clemson, South Carolina, the ACC, the SEC, and national powers like Michigan and Oklahoma have already offered.
Carlos Thomas (5-1, 180) of Atlanta, GA has been called one of the top two or three wide receivers in the South this year. "Thomas may be one
of the top two wide receivers we have seen," says one SEC coach. "He is so smooth. He is advanced so much that he makes things look easy. He could also play corner in college because he is that athletic. We love Carlos Thomas." We saw him in camp this summer. This is a smooth athlete that looks like he has difference-maker potential. "I have offers from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, LSU, and Oklahoma," says Thomas. This is a receiver with blazing speed, clocking 4.25 forty. There is much speculation with Thomas about him being a package deal with former Clemson commitment Ramon "Ray Ray" McElrathbey. "I would not say we are a package deal, but we would like to play together. Right now, Ray Ray is favoring Clemson and Florida, I like both schools, but in the end we will have to wait and see how everything works out."
Montez Billings (6-2, 195) of Pelham, AL is perhaps the top overall prospect in Alabama this season. The Tigers are in his top five, but how many times have Alabama and Auburn let the top player in the state leave. We think this is a long shot.
Here is a quick look at several high ranking players on the Tigers board:
Nick Kyles (6-2, 185) of Milledgeville, GA has offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Florida, FSU and Clemson.
Levin Neal (5-11, 185) of Wilmington, NC has offers from UNC, Clemson, Wake Forest, Maryland and Duke.
T.J. Williams (6-2, 170) of Tallahassee, FL says Clemson is his first offer.
Josh Briscoe (6-2, 185) of Lawndale, NC has offers from Duke, NC State, Virginia, Clemson and Tennessee.
Martin Frierson (6-2, 185) of Irmo, SC has offers from Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.
Byrnes High School in Duncan, SC continues to put out wide receivers. This year Clemson is recruiting Freddie Brown (6-4, 200) and Reynaldo Hunter (5-11, 170) from Byrnes.
We think the Tigers will sign 3-4 wide outs this year and this offense is very attractive to potential wide receivers.