In years past Clemson has been able to go through the season with minimal injuries Not this season though. The wide receivers corp was one group that was hit hard by injuries in 2020 and the “Next Man Up philosophy” used by head coach Dabo Swinney was put to the test.
It began early on when the Tigers found out that All-ACC receiver Justyn Ross would be out for the year when he had spinal surgery over the summer. Then in Clemson’s first game of the season, receiver Joseph Ngata suffered an abdominal strain that hampered him all season and eventually led to him missing the last five games of the season after he underwent surgery.
Just a few weeks after Ngata’s injury, receiver Frank Ladson ended up getting banged up and missed two full games because of an injured foot. It never totally healed and he saw limited snaps the rest of the season. Basically the Tigers were without three of their best receivers for most of the season.
A bright spot was the emergence of WR Cornell Powell. He earned All-ACC honors after becoming a serious deep threat for the Clemson offense. Freshman E.J. Williams came on strong towards the end of the season as well. Powell and Williams combined for 2,208 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 154 catches.
Powell was voted to the All-ACC third team this season. The fifth year senior really helped out with the absence of Ross, Ladson, and Ngata and finished the season second on the team with 53 catches for 882 yards and seven touchdowns.
Powell’s 882 yards ranked fifth in the ACC, while his seven touchdowns tied him with Amari Rodgers for fourth best in the conference. He led the Tigers with four 100-yard receiving games, including a team-high eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
Rodgers also made his presence known and was one of Trevor Lawrence’s go to guys throughout the season. He ended up earning First-Team All-ACC honors after leading the ACC with 77 receptions. He finished second in the league in yards with 1,020 and was tied for fourth in touchdown receptions with seven.
We also saw glimpses of what freshman Ajou Ajou and Brannon Spector are capable of this season as well. This is a very talented group going forward. Especially after getting word that Ross will be hopefully returning to the field in 2021. After all of the injuries that this position group endured over the last year, there is no doubt that the depth was tested.
2020 Position Grades
2020 Position Grades