Joesph Ngata came to Clemson amidst a myriad of hype. The five-star receiver from California was expected to make an immediate impact on the field, even if it was only in a reserve role.
Things do not always go according to plan, though, and Ngata has spent his first two seasons battling injuries and struggling to stay on the field consistently.
It’s not hard to see he has the potential to be another great Clemson receiver like DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Hunter Renfrow, and Mike Williams who all came before him. Dabo Swinney has raved about Ngata’s potential and the Clemson head coach feels he has as much upside as any receiver on the team
“Oh, his upside is through the roof,” Swinney said after the spring game. “Everybody’s asked me who I’m most excited about and it’s Ngata.”
An abdominal injury plagued Ngata throughout the 2020 season and he would eventually need surgery. Despite still not being fully recovered, Swinney said the highly-touted wideout had a great spring.
“Unfortunately, we never got to see what we saw in camp,” Swinney said. “I mean, this kid is incredibly gifted and he’s still getting back to 100%. I don’t think he’s still quite 100% but he’s been out there competing and had a great spring.”
Swinney detailed just what the receiver needs to work on in order to build on what he was able to do during spring practice and moving into his junior season.
“So, it’s just really, him having a great summer,” Swinney said. “Getting his body right where it needs to be, continuing to really work on his rehab and his prehab in recovery, and all that type of stuff. Then just being available. That’s really it. He’s gonna make a million plays if he’s healthy. That’s really the only thing that’s held him back.”
Ngata has definitely been plagued with bad breaks when it comes to injuries throughout his career. If he expects to show the greatness that Swinney talked about he is going to have to push through that, get himself healthy, and be able to stay on the field. This Clemson team is very deep at receiver and Ngata can’t afford to get passed by.
Now that he’s going into his third season Ngata will be expected to take on a larger role, on the field and off. Again, Clemson has an abundance of talent when it comes to receivers but there’s a lot of youth in that room, as well as inexperience. He, along with guys like Justyn Ross and Frank Ladson Jr. will be expected to carry the load as the younger players continue to learn.
“You know he had a great freshman year. But last year he really was just very spotty and not available. He tried to play several times, even though he was not anywhere near 100% and still did some things,” Swinney said. “His only limit is just catching some breaks from a health standpoint, he’s had a good spring for us. Now, we need him to go grind this summer, lead, and challenge all those guys coming in. He, Ross, and Ladson have got to lead the way for this group.”