Clemson Football head coach Dabo Swinney addressed the media Sunday evening and was asked about the Tigers’ wide receiver unit in the wake of the road win at Syracuse.
"“It’s exciting to see what’s going on at receiver with Beaux and Antonio, and obviously he hasn’t even been out there. Now 6 (Brown) is coming in here, and Stellato, what he’s doing. Man, we’re super excited about the potential of Adam. He’s still got to turn the potential into performance, but we know what he can do eventually. And then Cole Turner, we think’s going to be a star. He’s obviously going to be on the shelf again this year (with a season-ending injury), so that’s disappointing.“But we’ve got a good group coming together, a couple great recruits coming in, and really excited about where we are with that room.”"
Tyler Brown is coming off the best game of his young career. He had nine receptions for 153 yards. Brown has a total of 316 yards for the season and two touchdowns.
Sammy Watkins is good company to keep.
Troy Stellato is another pleasant surprise. Following two seasons where he barely saw the field due to injury, Stellato has played in the past four games and contributed 14 receptions for 141 yards. He caught his first career touchdown Saturday.
Going into the 2023 season, several people cited a concern about the wide receiver room having enough talent to make Clemson effective through the air. Coach Swinney stated in the preseason that if the five guys they were counting on were healthy, then they would be very good at receiver.
The emergence of Brown and Stellato has given Swinney a reason to reiterate his position that he is excited about what the Tigers have at receiver. I agree that Brown is growing into a star right in front of our eyes, and Stellato has been one of Klubnik’s more reliable targets.
Beaux Collins has been exactly what I expected, nothing more, nothing less. He has been as productive as any receiver on this roster outside of Brown. Antonio Williams has done nothing to make me doubt him. I am eager to see him return from injury.
That is probably where my concurrence with Swinney’s opinion ends, at least about the current roster.
First, I must at least tap the brakes on Stellato. He has played very well, but I need to see him remain healthy before I put too much stock in him being someone I count on to be on the field.
Even Swinney has referred to Stellato’s playing time as a ‘bonus’ for the team, which is wise.
Stellato has been injured for 81.25% of the Clemson games from the past three seasons.
I feel comfortable that he will play against Wake Forest. Would I make a bet right now that he will be active against South Carolina? Not yet.
I would love to see Adam Randall live up to his potential, but frankly, it is unfair to say that. The ‘potential’ has really been ‘hype’, and in all honesty, most of it has come from Swinney himself. So far, Swinney sees something the rest of us do not see.
That might sound like a harsh assessment of Randall, but it’s really an assessment of the way Swinney has promoted this young man’s abilities to the fanbase. It feels like Randall has been set up for failure by Swinney. It wasn’t intentional, but it is what has happened nonetheless.
Clemson Football is only an injury or two away from being very thin at receiver again
That might be the most pointed criticism of Swinney I have given in quite some time, but I don’t think it is unfair. I respect the heck out of Swinney, but he hasn’t helped Randall in this circumstance.
I am also hitting the brakes on Cole Turner, and not because I am disappointed with him. He has also been injured. Like Williams, he has done nothing to make me doubt him, but in hindsight, we’ve only seen flashes from Turner. We haven’t seen a body of work to assure us he has the potential to be a major contributor.
Lastly, I do agree with the excitement about this group come 2024 when Bryant Wesco and TJ Moore will join the room. Cade Klubnik will have a lot of options a year from now, but we never know how quickly players will come along. Even Tee Higgins needed some time as a freshman before he was ready to contribute.
I do think the wide receiver room has been better than expected thanks to contributions from a couple of players we didn’t expect. I am cautiously optimistic about the unit moving forward this season, but keeping my expectations in check. We don’t know if Williams will be able to come back at full strength this year. We are also an injury or two away from being very thin at the position again.
To me, wide receiver is a week to week proposition.