With Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant departing, many Clemson football fans are wondering what the future holds for the Tigers at wide receiver. Clemson has a burgeoning reputation as “Wide Receiver U” and it would be a shame to see that legacy tarnished. But really, there isn’t much to worry about–the future looks bright for the Tigers’ corp of receivers. Watkins and Bryant will not be replaced overnight but Clemson football certainly won’t suffer from a lack of talent pass-catchers for the foreseeable future.
A quick look at last season’s recruiting rankings should offer a quick shot of optimism for the future. The Clemson football program signed four receivers who were all rated four-star prospects in 247 Sports’ composite rankings and that entire group is now on campus. And while none of them is likely to be asked to step into Watkins’ shoes just yet, it won’t be for a lack of talent.
The Tigers already have a number of solid receivers returning this year, including a couple potential stars in Mike Williams and Charone Peake. Williams emerged as a true freshmen last year and got better as the season went on. Peake, on the other hand, started strong with a five-catch, 58-yard performance against the Georgia Bulldogs to open the season before tearing his ACL after the second game. Adam Humphries, while perhaps lacking the star potential of some of his teammates, is the leading returning receiver and should be a reliable option for Cole Stoudt in the slot.
But the freshmen may see some playing time this season. Artavis Scott, in particular, should be very difficult to keep off the field. Scott is fast, athletic, and a solid route-runner. He also offers the kind of versatility that could force Chad Morris to find unconventional ways of getting him on the football field.
This year’s group will be joined by at least one other potential star next season, as well. Clemson commit Deon Cain just put together an impressive showing at The Opening, and looks like one of the elite talents in the country. There is also a chance that Cain could be joined by another elite receiver, Ray Ray McCloud, a Clemson-target that will announce his commitment later this month.
The Clemson receivers will be relatively young this season. Mike Williams, who could end up being the best of the group, is only a true sophomore. Combining that with the need to replace Tajh Boyd means that the Clemson passing game may not be quite as explosive as it was last season. But if Stoudt is solid, the Tigers could still have one of the better passing offenses in the country this year. And in the future, when Deshaun Watson takes over and this young group of receivers has some experience, the Tigers offense could be truly special.