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Just when it seemed they were starting to turn the corner at the tight end position, the Clemson Tigers took another step back.

In 2020, Braden Galloway, Davis Allen and Jaelyn Lay combined to catch 44 passes for 621 yards and six touchdowns. They averaged 14.1 yards per catch for the Tigers.

With Galloway and Davis both returning and Lay showing improvement in the spring, many thought 2021 was going to be the year when the tight end returned as a consistent weapon in the passing game.

It never happened.

Galloway played in just six games due to multiple injuries. After returning from a concussion suffered against Boston College on Oct. 2, his season came to an end when he separated his shoulder at Pittsburgh on Oct. 16. He had just four catches for 14 yards.

Though Allen played in all 13 games and had 12 more receptions than he did in 2020, his production overall dropped. He averaged just 7.4 yards per catch on 28 receptions for 208 yards. Though he tied for the team-lead in touchdown receptions, it was also down one from four the year before.

Lay never became a factor at all, as he played in just three games and transferred out at the end of the year. Galloway also left the program after graduating.

Since Jordan Leggett became an All-American in 2016, Clemson’s tight ends have underperformed the last five seasons.

Is it because of a lack of talent?

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Is it because of coaching?

Or is it both?

Regardless, the fact is the Tigers’ tight ends just have not been productive.

The Tigers hope they can figure things out this season. For the second straight year, Dabo Swinney will have someone new coaching the tight ends.

Kyle Richardson moves up from his analyst position and takes over for Tony Elliott, who left Clemson to become the next head coach at Virginia. Elliott, who was also the offensive coordinator, took over as the tight ends coach last spring after spending 10 years coaching the running backs.

With Brandon Streeter now calling plays, will there be more of an emphasis to get the tight ends involved in the passing game?

From a personnel standpoint, the Tigers at least appear to have some upside. Allen will be entering his senior season and the hope is he will be able to get back to what he was starting to show as a sophomore, when he caught 16 passes for 247 yards and scored four touchdowns.

The coaching staff wanted to redshirt freshman Jake Briningstool last season, but when Galloway was lost for the year, they had no choice but to burn the redshirt. He played in eight games and showed his propensity to block.

Though he had just three catches, the freshman made the most of them. He averaged 22.3 yards per catch and turned one into a touchdown. His longest catch went for 31 yards.

Sage Ennis had just one catch, but Swinney really likes his toughness and thinks he can become a productive player for them down the road. He has played in 17 games the last two seasons, including getting his first start against Florida State.

Clemson will get back savvy veteran Luke Price, who has played in 25 games in his career and has one start.