There might not be a player on the Clemson roster more athletic than Ajou Ajou.
Despite arriving on campus extremely raw, the physically gifted wide receiver showed flashes of exactly how dynamic he can be last season. Now with a season under his belt, the coaches are expecting more from Ajou in 2021.
“He left Brooks, Alberta and went to Clearwater Academy International,” wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham said at Clemson Media Day. “He just needed more coaching. He needed more time. He needed more reps. Like anything, he just needed more experience. That’s what you get when you get here, is plenty of time to get reps.”
As Ajou now heads into year number two inside the program, Grisham says he has seen a drastic change in the young wide out when it comes to doing the little things.
“I mean, really it’s just a 180,” Grisham said. “He surprised himself, I think even, a little bit. I’ve always told him, ‘Hey, man, you are a phenomenal, phenomenal athlete. You have just God-given ability, talent that just oozes from you. Let’s take all that talent, and let’s really focus on the details.”
“You’ve always been just the best that can jump, and jump over somebody and catch it and run fast, but at this level, you can’t get away with just being a great athlete. You have to be a technician.”
Grisham said Ajou is as determined as ever and extremely focused on the nuances of his position.
“He’s worked really hard at his breakpoints,” Grisham said. “He’s worked really hard at his flexibility, his fluidity in and out of his breaks, even his stance and start. When the ball’s snapped, he gets so many false movements when the ball is snapped, and so trying to tighten that up and make him more efficient, and it’s shown.”
Another thing Ajou is beginning to master is his knowledge of the playbook. After being limited to just playing one position as a freshman, Grisham is starting to get the confidence to put him at any spot on the field.
“That’s another thing, is just understanding the playbook,” Grisham said. “We just kind of stuck him at one position, but now he’s been able to play another position, the boundary and the field, that’s created confidence.”
Ajou has been focused on improving in every aspect of his game, on and off the field, and it’s really starting to show.
“Then off the field, he’s done well,” Grisham said. “He’s committed more, I think, academically. That’s the thing, too, for our guys to understand. You’re not in the NFL, you’re a scholar-athlete, and if you can focus off the field, and really, how you do anything, it’s like everything. Let’s focus on being great academically. Let’s focus on being accountable in these areas. It’s going to transfer to the field, and you saw that. I think that the light went off, ‘Man, you’re right, Coach. I’ve done so much better in these areas, and it’s shown up on the field.’ He’s excited, heading into this season.”