Many Clemson fans will not like to see this and will most likely disagree, but ESPN writer, David Hale, is giving his position by position projections for the ACC and he does not see Clemson’s wide receiving corp as being the number one group in the league.
Hale has ranked the Tigers second in the league behind Louisville at the wide receiver and tight ends position. He was quick to point out that on talent alone, Clemson holds the top spot but the Tigers are losing over 40% of their receiving production (in yards and touchdowns). This is due in large part to the departure of Tee Higgins who was an early second-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Louisville is anchored by junior Chatarius Atwell who had a total of 70 catches for 1,276 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Then their number two receiver, Dez Fitzpatrick, is back. He averaged 18.1 yards per catch with six touchdowns. Add in sophomore tight end Marshon Ford, who had seven receiving touchdowns and 20 catches last season as well.
Overall, Hale points out that Louisville is returning five of their top six receivers and 84% of their total reception leaders.
When you take that into account, along with the loss of Higgins you have only Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers coming back with any real multi-year experience as targets for Trevor Lawrence. There is a lot of talent, but most of it has yet to prove themselves.
Finding out that Ross will be having surgery in June also doesn’t help. There is less depth and less experience coming into this season. That is not a knock on the receivers group, it just is what it is. But, like Dabo continues to stress, it’s next man up. And more often than not, that next man up mentality has worked quite well.