Dabo Swinney can't stop beaming about Clemson's receivers.
The Tigers head coach likes them all and couldn't be happier that this position is headed for a big bounce-back 2021. But that's just scratching the surface of the pass-catching unit through the first few weeks of spring practice.
From Justyn Ross to Joseph Ngata to Ajou Ajou, Clemson has a ton of talent and size back on the field, and despite losing its top two pass catchers from 2020, this group should be more productive and balanced this fall.
With the Tigers taking a week off, it's a good time to focus on three things learned so far this spring about receivers:
1. Ross is heading in the right direction: The most talented and experienced option of this unit, Ross still has some work to do to be fully cleared following his surgery last season. Still, he's come a long way and looks in practice like the receiver of old. He's still not allowed to participate in any contact drills or plays, but it's a great sign that Swinney has talked him up as the starting slot receiver.
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If there was doubt that Ross could return to football, it's hard to think the coaches would be experimenting with him at a new full-time position. Plus, every time Swinney has talked about him, simple optimism has turned more into true belief, so it's getting easier to think Ross will be 100% and poised to be a huge factor in 2021.
2. Ajou is the next big thing: When the spring began, Swinney talked about the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Canadien needing to show more maturity, and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Ajou needed to do the little things off the field more consistently to be a great player. Fast forward to last Wednesday, and Swinney said the "light has really come on for that young man," and Ajou has made huge strides over the last year.
He certainly looks the part as a potential monster if the raw prospect puts it all together, and he would add an unexpected dimension to the receiving corps if he can become a reliable player in 2021. For now, it sounds like each and every practice is vaulting Ajou higher and higher in his coach's mind. Even former Tiger Amari Rodgers was hyping Ajou up last week.
3. Collins twins are legit: Beaux Collins and Dacari Collins, the two early-enrollee freshmen, aren't related. However, they're going to be tied together for a long time. Swinney is already calling them the "Collins Twins" and mentioned them specifically among newcomers who are "made of the right stuff."
It's unknown how much they'll truly factor into 2021, but it doesn't hurt to add depth at a position that had several unexpected injuries a year ago. If there's one thing to take from Swinney this time of the year, it's how he talks up players nobody has seen at Clemson before. If his words are any indication, the Tigers are in great shape when Ross, Ngata and others exit the program.