Swinney Hopes Ajou Builds Off Spring Game Performance

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney believes receiver Ajou Ajou's big spring game will help his motivation and desire to be a playmaker in 2021.
Publish date:

Past spring games are full of players who performed well in April and then were rarely heard from again. Dabo Swinney doesn't feel like that's going to apply to Clemson's standout receiver from last week. 

Sophomore Ajou Ajou, coming off his six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead the White team to a 14-13 victory, was the talk of the game afterward. 

"He can make plays," Swinney said about the Canadian project. "He's a natural when it comes to attacking the ball. His confidence at an all-time high, he's just, you know, like most everybody he's progressing. He's the best version of him that we've seen. And you saw some things out there (Saturday) that we've seen on the practice field from a confidence standpoint. He still makes some mistakes and busted a couple of times out there. He didn't run the right route or converted, he shouldn't have converted."

For a young player who's 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and had just two catches in 2020, the spring showed that he's playing more off of instinct. He had a play in the second half when he ran a route over the middle but broke it off when he saw QB Taisun Phommachanh scrambling. Ajou got open, caught a short dump-off pass and gained a first down. 

"Here's what I love, he's playing full speed," Swinney said. "He's not hesitating. He loves (to be) coached and loves to compete and he's a unique guy. "He's very different from some of the other guys that we have and I think he's a guy, we'll be able to use in a lot of different ways, as he goes through his career."

It was a spring in which the coaching staff was wanting more out of Ajou, and he seems to have delivered on those hopes. Now he'll try to turn that experience into a prominent playmaking role in an already loaded receiving corps. 

"He's got, you know, four years left as well so he's an exciting young prospect," Swinney said. "And now it's good to see him make some big, big plays (Saturday) that's going to be huge for his confidence and his motivation going into the summer, what he needs to do to get himself ready to really help this team because both those teams will come together as one. It's gonna be very competitive. It's going to come down to who can perform consistently for us day in and day out, and he's got a chance to do that."