Could Diondre Overton Be Poised For A Breakout Season?

When Diondre Overton committed to Clemson back in January of 2016, conventional wisdom said he would be one of the next bigtime wide receivers to come out of #WRU. A four star prospect out of Greensboro, Overton was rated the 8th best WR and a Top 150 player overall by ESPN. At 6’5, he was that big target the Tigers coaching staff covets in their boundary receivers.

During the course of his freshman season, it didn’t take long to see that he was one of those guys that needed a year to adjust. From a physical and mental aspect. With guys like Mike Williams and Deon Cain ahead of him on the depth chart, the Tigers had the luxury of bringing him along slowly.

In a perfect world, Overton would have taken a redshirt his freshman season, but today’s landscape of college football is far from perfect. Not to mention, with the kind of talent this staff is bringing in at receiver year in and year out, we just don’t see many of them taking redshirt seasons.

He was able to get his feet wet that first season however, even if just barely. He was able to get into eight games but played just 107 snaps, finishing with two catches for 48 yards. As most probably remember, he made his first career catch count, as he and Nick Schuessler hooked up for a 45 yard scoring strike against SC State.

Going into 2017, there were some who thought he might beat out Deon Cain for the starting spot left vacated by the departed Mike Williams. It didn’t quite play out that way, but Overton did play in all 14 games and more than doubled his snap count with 236. He hauled in 14 balls on the season for 178 yards, while backing up Cain. Although, to be fair, let’s not forget this was the run heavy offense led by Kelly Bryant, that struggled to consistently throw the ball downfield most of the season.

Then when 2018 rolled around and the highly touted Tee Higgins was a rising sophomore. After a season learning the ropes, he was ready to step into the starting role at the boundary. Once again, Overton found himself as the backup, but he made the most of it. He caught 14 balls for 199 yards and 3 TDs, including a big second half catch in the national title game.

Now with the 2019 season on the horizon, the rising senior knows it’s now or never. He’s made no secret of the fact that during the spring he seriously contemplated transferring elsewhere to play his final season. Eventually, after much thought and discussing it with his family, he decided to stick it out.

As the team started down the home stretch of spring practice, slot receiver Amari Rogers unfortunately fell victim to a torn ACL. No player ever wants to see a teammate go down, but one man’s tragedy sometimes means another man’s treasure.

With Rogers out for the foreseeable future, an unlikely candidate has emerged to take over that spot atop the depth chart. That guy is Overton. Generally, when one thinks of a slot receiver, they tend to think of the smaller, faster wideouts, not a 6’5 guy whose ability to go up and high point the ball is one his strongest attributes.

When spring ball ended, Overton was at a solid 205 lbs. Last week at the team weigh in, he was up 8 lbs to 213. He has no question been putting in the work. With Hunter Renfrow gone, QB Trevor Lawrence is going to have to find a new security blanket on third downs. A 6’5 213 pound slot receiver just might be that guy, or at the very least someone who helps to pick up some of that production.

Whether Overton actually wins the job remains to be seen. He will have to beat out another wideout who is poised for a breakout in Cornell Powell. Add TJ Chase to the mix and the staff knows there’s no reason to rush Rogers back.

Right now it seems that Overton is the frontrunner, but even if one of those other guys win the job, expect to see a lot of Overton. With him lined up on the inside and Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins lined up on the outside, the possibilities are endless. Opposing coaches will have to pick their poison when deciding who to put the smaller DB’s on. It’s going to be a matchup nightmare for most teams.

Overton has always been a guy with NFL potential. He has patiently waited his turn, done everything asked of him, and been the consummate teammate. Can 2019 be the year all that pays off as he attempts to etch his name into the lore that is #WRU?

If you’re interested, you can check out Overton’s career highlights here.

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JP_Priester

A writer for SBNation's "Shakin' The Southland" covering Clemson Athletics

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