From the first fall camp session of 2011, Clemson receivers coach Jeff Scott was looking ahead to the 2014 cycle.
On one side of the field, there was dynamic five-star talent Sammy Watkins – the other, athletic freak Martavis Bryant. Three years of eligibility down, they both will be in Indianapolis this weekend for the NFL Combine.
“If we waited until after the Orange Bowl on how we were going to replace Sammy and Martavis, we’d be in trouble,” Scott, the Tigers’ fifth-year recruiting coordinator said. “I knew after Sammy’s first practice that he wasn’t going to be here very long.”
Scott knows the challenge of targeting elite prospects in order to maintain the level of talent being bringing in.
“Three of our last four wide receivers that have left were all three-year players,” he said. “All went on to be highly drafted guys. There’s obviously positives in that they’re having a lot of success here and able to go and have a good future at the next level.
“There’s also a negative that you only get them for three seasons. We have to continue to be ahead of that curve.”
Clemson’s reputation as an NFL factory for offensive skills players went a long way in bringing in one of the top receiver classes in the country.
The four-man group of Trevion Thompson (6-foot-3, 190 pounds; Hillside; N.C.), Artavis Scott (5-10, 175; East Lake; Fla.), Demarre Kitt (6-1, 182; Sandy Creek; Ga.) and Kyrin Priester (6-2, 180; Fork Union; Va.) all have a chance to play early with two starting spots vacated. Scott, Kitt and Priester are on campus and will be competing for those jobs starting March 5.
“Whenever they’re here having success, you’re able to use their success to recruit other young men who are juniors in high school,” Scott said.
Returning to the fold is senior Adam Humphries, who is three catches from the 100-mark with 893 career receiving yards and three touchdowns. Former Dorman teammate Charone Peake makes his return from a torn ACL, looking for a breakout redshirt junior year.
Sophomore Mike Williams is the favorite to take over Bryant’s boundary role after an impressive freshman campaign (20 catches for 316 yards, 3 TDs).
Redshirt sophomore Germone Hopper will find himself fighting for playing time after an inconsistent debut (23 catches for 149 yards, 2 TDs).