Junior receiver Deon Cain has specialized in spectacle. Last season he served as Clemson’s designated deep threat. He repeatedly sprinted past defensive backs along the sideline for electrifying long passes.
Cain finished sixth among Clemson receivers with 38 receptions. However, he was third on the team with 724 yards and second with nine touchdowns. He averaged 19.1 yards per reception, the 19th highest rate in the NCAA Division I bowl subdivision.
Through his first two seasons, Cain averaged 18.1 yards per catch, the fourth-best figure in school history and the third-best rate among active Atlantic Coast Conference players.
Cain attacks the ball aggressively in the air and has flashed his ability in blowouts against Syracuse and Boston College as well as championship bouts with Virginia Tech and Alabama. He caught five passes for 94 yards, including a 43-yarder, in the College Football Playoff championship game in his hometown of Tampa, Fla.
Now that Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett have departed the program, Cain must do more than stretch the defense deep. He will be needed in intermediate yardage and underneath coverage. He must prove himself reliable on third down and in the red zone.
Cain has the speed, hands, agility and acceleration to be Clemson’s next first-round receiver. But he must harness those skills in a versatile package. It will make him more productive at Clemson and more attractive to pro scouts.