Note: The following appears in the Boston College gameday football program.
Graduate wide receiver Diondre Overton has worked his way up the depth chart over his time at Clemson to play a prominent role during all parts of the game in his fourth season.
Overton’s journey to prominence in Tigertown began in Greenville, N.C. His beginnings in football were like many football players, as he started to play at the age of seven. Overton stopped playing for a time, however.
“I stopped playing for a long while after third grade and didn’t start back until 11th grade because I was always a basketball guy. I started back playing in 11th grade and got offered, so that’s why I’m in football now.”
The decision to return to the gridiron led Overton to Clemson, a decision that he made mostly because of the family atmosphere.
“I chose Clemson because it was a family environment, closer to home and somewhere I could see myself. I had a lot of role models coming into it, being around guys like Mike Williams and Deon Cain. I had guys to teach the way and pave the path.”
While at Clemson, Overton has relished the opportunity to leave a legacy as a Tiger and to be a part of something bigger than himself. In his three seasons as a Tiger, he has been a part of two national championship squads.
“It’s been unreal for us. It’s crazy how the time flies, but the championships were great moments. You would definitely want to be back in that moment to relive it, but the rings will always symbolize it. It’s great to have that experience with great people, great teammates and great coaches.”
Each championship is special in its own right, but the second one, when the Tigers had a 15-0 record, stands out more to Overton. Though he cherishes both, he was able to contribute more during the 2018 championship run, making it a little more memorable than his first.
Aside from the title in 2016, Overton’s freshman season gave him another memorable moment…his first touchdown (against SC State).
“It was crazy. I didn’t think they were going to call a pass play that early, but Nick Schuessler threw it up in the air and read the coverage. It looked like I was about to drop it because I caught it weird, but it was an amazing environment and I’m glad I got to experience that my freshman year.”
Over the past three seasons, Overton’s playing time has steadily increased.
“It shows how far I’ve come. When I came in, I wasn’t nearly as ready as I am now, but I’ve learned from experience. I’ve been prepared and I’ve worked my way up and earned a spot on the field. It’s been great to humble myself and work harder.”
His drive to succeed exemplifies what Clemson football is all about, and it falls right in line with its receiving corps. The consistent success of the Tiger wideouts has helped Clemson earn a reputation as “Wide Receiver U,” and Overton is happy to be a part of that legacy.
“That’s a great legacy to be a part of. I’ll have lots of connections…guys like Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Williams, who paved the way as a great example of ‘Wide Receiver U.’ Now, we’re here living in it right now. Hopefully, we continue that standard.”
For the wideouts, the phrase “Wide Receiver U” goes far beyond their success and talents between the lines. It is a testament to how close they all are off the field as well.
“We’re very close. We have a group message. We communicate very well, and this might be the best group of wide receivers that I’ve been around, communication-wise, being able to interact outside of football and understanding that football doesn’t last forever.”
The family aspect of the receiving corps is indicative of the family atmosphere that Clemson has built, both as a university and as a program. The receivers act as a microcosm of the overall family environment, and the bonds that they have all forged will last a lifetime.
“This is a family-type environment. The guys that I’m here with now and have been here before…we’ll always have relationships outside of football.”
Away from the gridiron, Overton has shown off his exploits as a standout basketball player. He even stopped playing football for a time to continue playing basketball, which was his first love in sports. However, when the time came to choose, he had to make the tough decision of what would be best for him.
“I grew up playing basketball since…I couldn’t even remember. I’ve always been a basketball guy because of my mom. My mom played basketball at East Carolina and was about to go overseas.
“I’ve always played AAU basketball, so that always had a big impact on me. I had a couple of offers, but at the end of the day, I looked at the best opportunity for me, and I decided to play football.”
Overton has not stopped playing on the hardwood, though, and he claimed to be the best basketball player on the team, “hands down.” However, he did give some praise to a few of his fellow wide receivers.
“We have a lot of basketball competitors on the team. I’d say the top-three basketball players on this year’s team are Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Cornell Powell.”
Head Coach Dabo Swinney is also a basketball aficionado. Overton had some strong but teasing words for his coach in describing his abilities on the basketball court.
“He’s a good basketball guy, but I don’t think he’s as good as he thinks he is. He lost a few games at his own house in ‘knockout’.”
Overton was one of those players to “knock out” Swinney on the hardwood, which was “a great feeling” for him to claim those bragging rights over his head coach. Neither party is bringing it up much, as Overton joked that he wanted his head coach to have to think about it.
“I’m going to let it marinate. I’m going to bring it back along down the road sometime.”
As a graduate student, Overton is working towards a master’s degree in athletic leadership to compliment his bachelor’s degree in sports communication. He wants to try his hand at the NFL when his time at Clemson ends, but he has a solid backup plan ready in case that does not work out.
Overton loves being around kids and serving as a mentor, so his plan is to look into starting his own foundation.
Regardless of where Overton goes next, the work ethic and drive for success that he has exhibited at Clemson will surely lead him to success, no matter what he chooses to do.