Note: The following appears in the August 2019 issue of Orange: The Experience.
As you read this, we should be just past the midway point of August camp for football. All of us are salivating as we wait for the Aug. 29 opening game against Georgia Tech in Death Valley. With that in mind, I thought I would give you some names to be on the lookout for during the 2019 football season.
Let’s start on the offensive side of the football, and, since we are “Wide Receiver University,” let’s start with two names that we all had a taste of this past spring. Frank Ladson Jr. and Joseph Ngata won’t be your typical true freshman wide receivers.
Both of them showed up this past January on the Clemson campus ready to make their mark, and they did just that. Ladson, who will be in jersey No. 2 this fall, hauled in five passes at the spring game for 107 yards, with his longest reception going for 42 yards. Ngata, in the No. 10 jersey, also hauled in five catches but for 127 yards. He had a toe-tapping reception for 32 yards and a 70-yard reception to highlight his spring game outing. Pair these two along with the forces that be at wideout for Clemson, and you can wish opposing defenses good luck.
The defensive line obviously took the biggest hit from last season, but, relax, there is plenty of talent along the DL that will just need some seasoning as the year plays out. At the defensive-end spots, be on the lookout for Justin Foster and K.J. Henry. Both players you should be familiar with.
Foster rolls into his junior season having played 264 snaps in his Clemson career. It is easy to forget that ESPN had him rated as one of the top-100 players in the nation coming out of high school and the fifth best defensive end.
Henry, because of the new 4-game redshirt rule installed last season, played in four games and registered 39 snaps. Like Foster, K.J. was one of the most sought-after players coming out of high school. He was ranked the No. 6 player in the nation by ESPN, No. 14 by 247Sports, No. 26 by Rivals and No. 27 by PrepStars.
Other young names to know are Tyler Davis, Etinosa Reuben, Ruke Orhorhoro and Tayquon Johnson. All of them are future stars in the middle of the Clemson defense.
Davis is a Florida native from Apopka. At 6 feet 1 inch and 290 pounds, he is a tough object to move. He is another player that was ranked in the top 100 coming out of high school, with his highest rating being No. 60 by ESPN. He wears No. 13, and something tells me that will be unlucky for many an offensive lineman over his career.
Reuben, who wears No. 32, has only played three years of football. At 6 feet 4 inches and 280 pounds with a large wingspan, he is a guy that can play both outside and inside on the defensive front.
Orhorhoro, No. 33, is the first signee from Michigan for Clemson since 1975. He stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighed in back in the spring at 275 pounds. Like Reuben, Ruke has limited experience on the gridiron. He played only two seasons in high school but racked up 13 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss and 60 tackles his senior season.
Johnson arrived on campus this summer. He measured in at 6 foot 3 inches and 290 pounds. The thing I like about Tayquon is that he was an outstanding wrestler in high school and was team captain for the football team his junior and senior seasons. Those facts tell me he knows how to use his hands and how to lead.
Football season is upon us folks, and the best is yet to come!