The tight end has become a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to having success on the offensive side of the ball. The right one can be the difference in whether an offense is good or great.
Throughout the Dabo Swinney era at Clemson, the tight ends have played an integral part in the Tigers' success on that side of the ball. Players like Dwayne Allen, Brandon Ford, and Jordan Leggett had major impacts on the Tigers' passing game during their careers.
The program is hopeful that it has found its next elite tight end in Jake Briningstool. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect out of Brentwood, Tennessee, is the highest-rated tight end Clemson has signed under Swinney and the Tigers head coach says he was the team's top target at the position this cycle.
"This was the guy man, this was the guy for us and we're thankful that we were the program for him," Swinney said. "He's a great player. I mean a lot of people have him as the best player in the state of Tennessee. He's easily one of the best tight ends in the country. He's long, he's dynamic, he can do it all. I mean, he's got toughness. His dad was a great player at Michigan State."
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"Just going to take one tight end signee in this class and we have the ability with our brand and our past success to attract a lot of interest, and at least be able to have a conversation with the best of the best out there. But this was the guy man. This was the guy for us."
In the Clemson offense, the tight end position can be a difficult spot to learn and the staff is always looking for the right fit. That's exactly what they think they have in Briningstool.
The Tigers already have Braden Galloway and Davis Allen on the roster and the two combined for 43 catches for 616 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2020. With that kind of experience returning that means the coaches will have the luxury of bringing the incoming freshman along at his own pace.
"It's a hard position to play, but it's an even harder position to recruit," Swinney said "Because it's not often that you can find guys that bring everything to the table that you need at that position. We've had some years where we've kind of had to piece it together. Some guys were good at this, and others were good at that. But when you can get a guy like a couple of these guys that we have already on the roster, that really have the ability to not just be good, but excel in all areas of tight end play, those guys are hard to find. And we think Jake is definitely that."