Depth, Versatility Has Swinney, Clemson Feeling like 'WRU' Again

With Justyn Ross, Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. healthy, combined with young talents like Beaux Collins and E.J. Williams, Clemson's receiving corps is back in its element.

Dabo Swinney is once again giddy about one of Clemson's famed positions. 

The Clemson head coach gets a full allotment of talented receivers to work with this spring, something he rarely had a year ago as injuries to three potential starters plagued the Tigers. 

"We're back in business there at wideout," Swinney said. "It's unbelievable the depth we have out here now. I'm super excited about it. Obvioulsy we had a lot of guys out last year. We've got a great group (in 2021)."

Despite losing top-2 pass-catchers Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell from the 2020 squad, there's a lot for the former receivers coach to talk about this spring. Justyn Ross is back and moving to the slot role, opening up the door for fellow injured Tigers from a year ago Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. to get on the field as well. 

E.J. Williams, an impressive freshman a year ago, Brannon Spector, Ajou Ajou and Will Swinney all returned. Early enrollees Beaux Collins and Dacari Collins give Swinney and WR coach Tyler Grisham young talents to work with as well. 

It feels like a program that's prided itself on being 'WRU" is back in its element. 

"We've got a bunch of guys," Swinney said. "We've got (freshman) Troy (Stellato) coming in this summer. These two freshmen, Dacari and Beaux, they've made us better already."

While Ross, who hasn't been cleared for contact since last summer's congenital fusion surgery, is the headliner of the group, Swinney is just as happy to have Ngata and Ladson back. Neither junior could stay healthy in 2020. 

"Those are three elite players we really didn't have access to," Swinney said. 

Ngata had just seven catches in seven games and had surgery on an abdominal issue during the season while Ladson played in 10 games, catching 24 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, but he was greatly limited by an ankle injury in the second half of 2020.

"It's good to see them out here," Swinney said. "Joseph looks great. He's incredibly focused and it's good to see him get back to full health."

Swinney is also excited about Ajou, a Canadian sophomore who had just two catches last year. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound project has had improved as a football player, but Swinney said Ajou "has some growing up to do in other areas." 

This is a good time for Swinney and the Tigers to be confident and healthy about this group. Clemson's receivers can return to heavy competition and build chemistry this spring with new starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. 

"We've got really, really good depth with this group and some versatility within that group," Swinney said.