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We're breaking down the status of each position on the Clemson football team every week until kickoff.

By Morgan Thomas

Position Coach: Tyler Grisham

The Clemson wide receiver who wore number 13 before Hunter Renfrow. As a Clemson Tiger, Tyler Grisham was a reliable receiver who found ways to get open during a time before Clemson had an elite offense. His college stats didn't turn heads but his work ethic and determination did. After graduation he was able to work his way onto an NFL roster as a free agent in 2009 and ultimately signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, appearing in four games that season. In 2020, head coach Dabo Swinney had to make the difficult hire to replace nationally respected recruiter and offensive mind, Jeff Scott who took the head coach job at South Florida. As we have seen over the past year, Swinney has a contingency plan in place. He had Grisham in leadership and coaching development since 2014. 

“I’m just super excited for Grish. There’s never been a guy more prepared to be the receivers' coach at Clemson than Tyler Grisham. He had a great four-year career here. Clemson fans certainly loved him. He had a lot of big moments and went on and grinded out a four-year NFL career… He’s ready and is going to do an unbelievable job for us. He’s going to be special," said Swinney.

Grisham played a significant off-the-field role in developing players like Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow and Tee Higgins. However, with his success has also come challenges. 2021 could have possibly been the worst season for the Clemson receiver group in over a decade. The group dealt with significant and consistent injuries to just about every player, so bad that towards the end of the season the Tigers were without seven scholarship receivers. 2021 was a season to forget when you combine the Tigers' overwhelming injuries with the other more frustrating issues like poor blocking and dropping passes. 

It will be on Tyler Grisham to keep his receiver group healthy, execute blocks and get separation if Clemson has any hope of improving their offensive production in 2022.

Who are the starters?

WR-X: Senior Joe Ngata

WR-SLOT: Sophomore Beaux Collins

WR-Z: Junior EJ Williams

When looking at who will start the season for Clemson, the first thing I always reference is the bowl game depth chart. Against Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl, the Tigers listed these three players above as the starters. Joe Ngata is a former 5-star guy who looked every bit of a monster in high school. However, after three years he has yet to pass 1,000 yards receiving...for his career. I recently went back and watched his high school film. Ngata has the talent to be a deep threat, to be the one-on-one guy and to be the jump ball guy. He just needs to reach his potential.

EJ Williams has also had a frustrating career at Clemson so far. He was Justyn Ross' close friend coming out of high school. Fans, including myself, felt like Williams would rise to the occasion and challenge Ross for most highlight reel catches at Clemson. In 2020, Williams delivered with an amazing catch in the ACC Championship game against Notre Dame. However, since then the highlights have been few. He has been trying to get healthy for some time now. If he is to be a factor in 2022, he will need to be on the field consistently.

Beaux Collins was the rare bright spot for Clemson in 2022. After many injuries and a few failed experiments, Grisham had no other choice but to put Beaux Collins in the slot position. Thankfully it paid off. Beaux Collins played with DJ Uiagalelei in high school, so there is chemistry and timing there already. It was evident in the spring game and later in the year became a much-needed boost to the offense.

Who is the rising star?

Sophomore Dacari Collins

Dacari Collins waited for his time to shine in 2022 and in the last nine games of the season he recorded 254 snaps and three starts. Dacari Collins made the most of his opportunities and in return had a six-catch game against Iowa State and a team-high 50 yards against South Carolina. When you watch Dacari play you can immediately see he has a presence about him. He is big and tall with long arms but regularly catches defenders off balance because of his foot speed and quickness. I expect Dacari Collins to sub in for Ngata in 2022 and again make the most of his opportunities. Ngata will have pressure to be at the top of his game because Dacari Collins will be challenging him for snaps.

Best of the rest? 

True Freshman Antonio Williams and Adam Randall

Don't look now but the next wave of receivers looking to make their mark has arrived. Randall was the center of a lot of buzz around spring camp until unfortunately, he went down with a knee injury. There is still hope that he can join the team later in the season and show the fans what the spring hype was all about. Williams on the other hand did not join the team until the summer but there is also buzz around town that he may be explosive enough to start as a return specialist in 2022. Clemson needs that smaller-sized speedy receiver to provide balance to the offense and add a different element for defenses to account for. In 2021 the Tigers didn't seem to have that player. 

Will Taylor is an honorable mention here. Taylor initially made a mark but after just a few games went down with a knee injury. He is difficult to tackle in space and also provides a smaller but more elusive challenge for defenses. 

What will make 2022 a success? 

There is absolutely no reason why Clemson should not have a 1,000-yard receiver on their team each year. If not one top guy then at least two who are around 800 yards or more would be acceptable as well. Murphy's Law can't possibly happen again to the same position group. Hopefully, in 2022, this team will put the injuries, drops and lack of separation behind them. It's a new year, a blank canvas. The Clemson Tigers have the talent to create a masterpiece if they can keep the best players on the field consistently. We heard it from Dabo Swinney many times, if the Tigers want starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to perform better, they also have to be better around him.


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