The tight end position has not had a large role in the Clemson offense since Jordan Leggett left in 2016. The group this year is talented, but they will need to show out in the spring to establish their place in the offense and get used to playing with new quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.
With Tony Elliott becoming the tight end coach this year, the group could look different than it has in the past and what his impact will be in 2021 as Danny Pearman moves to an off-the-field role.
There is a mix of experienced players and fresh faces among the tight ends. With most of the players returning from last season, this group will be ready to go on day one.
Here's a breakdown of the Tigers' tight ends heading into 2021 spring practice:
Key departures: J.C. Chalk
Key Returning Players: Braden Galloway, Davis Allen
Early Enrollees: Jake Briningstool
Position Coach: Tony Elliott (1st Season)
Top dog: Galloway showed flashes of his talent in his first year as a starter. Galloway has a lot of athletic talent, but he has yet to put it all together on the field. This spring will be important for him to continue to grow into the offense and carve out a role for himself. Galloway has the tools to be a star if he can put them together in his senior season.
Bounce back: Lay expected to have a breakout year last season, but he only caught one pass. Lay has the talent to receive more playing time for Clemson, but he will need to show it this spring. Lay has the physical attributes to succeed at the tight end position. If he can perform on the field this spring, Lay can expect his role in the offense to increase this year.
Instant impact: Expectations are high for incoming freshman Briningstool. The second-team All-American can earn himself some early playing time if he impresses the coaches this spring. His biggest challenge will be blocking as he is undersized for the position. He will need to show coaches that he can be a capable blocker to get any significant time on the field. If he lives up to the hype, he will be a weapon for the Clemson offense.
Rising Star: Allen has steadily improved since he came to Clemson in 2019. He will be a major part of this position group in 2021. Davis will receive a lot of playing time going into the spring. If he continues to grow and learn, he can earn himself a consistent role in the offense, but he will need to build some of the same chemistry with Uiagalelei as he did with Trevor Lawrence.
Hole to fill: With J.C. Chalk leaving the team after 2020, this position group will need someone else to provide experienced leadership. This responsibility will fall to Galloway and Allen as they have been with the team the longest.