In 2005, Clemson’s receivers were still looking to return to the status of 2003. Chansi Stuckey, Kelvin Grant, and Curtis Baham were the only receivers with significant experience coming into the season. The Tigers did have a young core of receivers that showed promise in the spring.
Redshirt freshman Aaron Kelly emerged out of the spring as a starter, but most believed he would be overtaken by Grant. Kelly did not get the message. Head coach Tommy Bowden consistently praised Kelly, even at one point comparing him to former Tiger Rod Gardner.
The lone senior, Baham, would carry the load in the early part of the season. Baham seemingly only made big catches in his career. One of his biggest catches came in the first overtime against Miami. Baham made a spectacular fingertip catch to keep the Tigers hopes alive. Baham was solid all season, as he closed his Clemson career with 500 yards receiving in his senior campaign.
Stuckey did open the season with a bang on special teams. Stuckey took his first punt return of the season back for a touchdown against Texas A&M. Midway through the season, many were starting to question of Stuckey could be the go to receiver. Stuckey had not a 100-yard receiving game in almost a season and a half.
Stuckey started to get going with 7 catches for 74 yards against Wake Forest. He had a breakout performance against NC State with 8 catches for 103 yards. Stuckey would have back-to-back 100-yard receiving performances against Duke and Florida State. Stuckey played the best game of his career against the Seminoles, as he had 11 catches for 156 yards. Stuckey finished the year with 770 yards receiving.
Kelly was solid all season, as he broke out with 155 yards against Temple. Kelly showed flashes of excellence that make many believe he will be the Tigers go-to-guy in 2006.
Grant was playing the best football of his career before suffering a torn ACL following the Wake Forest game. Grant has since been dismissed from the football team.
True freshmen Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham gained valuable experience. Taylor battled a broken wrist much of the season, but he played well in the bowl game against Colorado, proving he can play receiver. Grisham has good speed and runs perfect routes. He will see a much bigger role in 2006.
The tight ends were one of the biggest surprises in 2005. Walk-ons Cole Downer and Thomas Hunter were put on scholarship just before the season, and they clearly earned their worth during the season. Bobby Williamson was moved back to tight end, and all believed he would be the starter. He was beaten out by Hunter and Thomas and his career had a disappointing ending, as he was academically ineligible for the bowl game.
Hunter delivered all season long. He had 13 catches for 120 yards. Interesting note on Hunter, before the season he had decided this would be his last season at Clemson. He has now decided to return to the Tigers in 2006.
Cole Downer suffered a ruptured spleen against Miami, but he returned late in the season. Downer played well for the Tigers, but unfortunately, his season was interrupted by the injury.