Clemson considers its program to be the home of “wide receiver U” because of its ability to attract top talent and produce NFL wide receivers.
The latest first-round pick the Tigers have produced is Mike Williams, who was drafted No. 7 overall in the 2017 NFL draft by the Chargers. Williams was hampered by injuries during his rookie season and did not have the year he envisioned, but he is considered one of the best receivers in Clemson history.
Clemson signed a pair of receivers for the class of 2018 in Derion Kendrick of Rock Hill and Justyn Ross of Phenix City, Ala., two prospects who were rated as five-star recruits by some services.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Ross, who the Tigers landed on Signing Day, reminds him of Williams.
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“Justyn, he’s a full grown man. He’s big, fast… And he’s got freaky ball skills… He’s a guy, he’s in that Mike Williams mode, but an older version of Mike Williams, not a younger version of Mike Williams coming in. He’s got a very mature body for this age,” Swinney said. “He’s got everything you want… He’s got the strength, explosiveness, athleticism, ball skills and toughness I think to be an outstanding player.”
Kendrick and Ross are rated as the No. 4 and No. 7 receivers in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
They are also two prospects that Clemson desperately wanted.
“The top two that we targeted we got,” Swinney said. “The number one player in this state and the number one player in the state of Alabama, which is also a first in my career. So just really excited about that.”
Kendrick committed to Clemson in January of 2017 and there was little drama with his recruitment.
That wasn’t the case with Ross, who was also considering in-state schools Alabama and Auburn. Most expected Ross to choose Alabama on Signing Day, but he went with Clemson instead.
“There was plenty of drama and plenty of uncertainty. When I left his house on Thursday (before Signing Day) I felt confident that we had done everything we possibly could,” Swinney said. “We had some other guys that we could’ve taken, but we were all in on Justyn, and he had given us enough of an indication to give us some hope to kind of hang in there with him. So this is a huge, huge get for us.”
In addition to the two receivers Clemson signed, the Tigers also signed a tight end for the class of 2018 in Braden Galloway of Seneca.
The 6-foot-5, 225 pounder is rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 41 tight end in the country.
“We were looking for a guy that had length, athleticism. We were looking for a guy a little bit like (Jordan) Leggett that we felt like we could develop… Obviously we found Braden Galloway right down the road. We think he’s going to be a special player,” Swinney said. “He was a big-time basketball player that like a lot of these tight ends, they decide they want to play some football once he realizes he’s not a point guard… This will be a 260-pound kid when it’s all said and done, so I’m excited about him.”
Galloway had a screw put in his toe earlier this month and will not be able to go through spring practice, but Swinney believes the injury will not slow him.
“He’ll be in meetings and be able to start mentally,” Swinney said. “He’ll still be in that weight room working and developing, so a big spring for him.”