Clemson Football had three losses in 2021, three losses in 2022, and will have a minimum of four losses this season.
There have been several things people have pointed out that were a problem. Clemson changed some of those things after 2021 and 2022, but the primary results – wins and losses – haven’t improved yet.
One thing that was criticized was the step back in talent in the wide receiver room. The Tigers have hit on a couple of recruits in the last couple of classes (Antonio Williams and Tyler Brown), but the most common perspective is that the team still needs help in that room.
One person I had written off in that room was Troy Stellato.
I was excited when Stellato committed to the Tigers. He seemed like a guy who could fill the slot role Hunter Renfrow had played so well for years.
For two seasons, I hoped Stellato would get on the field, and for the most part, he didn’t. Injuries kept him on the sideline. Every time it seemed like he could make a return, something happened and he stayed on the sideline.
You didn’t have to read between the lines very hard to understand head coach Dabo Swinney was frustrated with the situation. When I’ve seen Swinney frustrated with a bad-luck situation, he makes it clear it is about the situation, and not the player.
He didn’t make that distinction with Stellato, and the absence of that spoke volumes.
After he was out for the Duke game, I assumed Troy Stellato would never make a relevant contribution to Clemson Football
I personally gave Stellato one more chance after this past spring, and he was injured in fall camp again. That was it for me. I assumed he would never contribute anything meaningful to this program. Even if they said he should be back in two weeks, I assumed something would happen that keep him off the field.
Then he took the field against Charleston Southern, and he caught the ball, and I was genuinely pleased for the young man. I also warned readers not to get too carried away with a very injury-prone player.
Then he kept taking the field and kept catching the ball. He has a reception in every game he has played in this season, with 34 receptions total. He snagged his first touchdown at Syracuse.
This past weekend when Beaux Collins went out early with an injury, Stellato stepped up alongside Tyler Brown. Stellato became that guy who kept the drives moving with six receptions for 50 yards.
I still can’t shake the worry that Stellato could have bad luck and have to leave the field again, but the reason is simply that he has been prone to injury. Stellato has proven my other doubts to be off-target.
Before, I assumed Stellato just didn’t have the drive to fight back from those injuries and get on the field. On that point, I am thankful I was wrong.
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