CLEMSON — That felt like the quietest 93-catch, 901-yard, six-touchdown receiving season in the history of college football.
There’s something about Artavis Scott’s game that’s so effortless, as if he’s able to make a 30-yard touchdown catch seem easy. Maybe it helps Scott to have his off-campus roommate Deshaun Watson on the other end of those scores. Maybe it’s the other way around.
Say this for Scott: he regularly goes out and produces. The first-team all-ACC selection only had one 100-yard game last year — and he made it count, a 10-reception, 162-yard, TD game vs. No. 1-rated defense Boston College — but he hauled in a half-dozen catches or more nine times in 15 games.
Even though Scott was clearly hampered by a bad leg in the second half of 2015, he was right there in the box score when his team needed him: a dozen catches in the close call at Syracuse, 96 yards and a trip to the end zone vs. North Carolina for the ACC title, and a 15-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the College Football Playoff championship to cut Alabama’s lead to five.
All told, Scott is already etched in the Clemson record books only halfway through his collegiate eligibility. The 93 catches place him in an exclusive club. The list of all-time Tigers with 90 receptions in a season includes Scott, Sammy Watkins (101 in 2013) and ... nobody else, because that’s the entire list.
Through just two seasons, Scott’s 169 catches rank fourth in Clemson history behind Watkins (240), Aaron Kelly (232) and DeAndre Hopkins (206.) For the mathematically challenged, Scott needs 72 grabs to supplant Sammy.
Scott’s 1,866 yards check him in at No. 11 on Clemson’s career receiving list; realistically, he can reach the top five with 668 yards. He could surpass Watkins’ school record with a humongous 1,525-yard effort, which would also break Watkins’ single-season standard.
So, why is Scott so important to Clemson’s offense? Because he adds an element that few other teams can. Scott can make plays on screen passes behind the line of scrimmage, or take a defender deep down the field and catch a bomb. Scott can operate out of the backfield, and he’s an explosive returner when given opportunities.
An area where Scott can improve: only nine of those 93 grabs came on third or fourth down. To be thorough, eight of the nine catches moved the chains, but for the most part, Scott was kept out of the equation on money down.
If Scott shores up that spot — or even if he doesn’t — he will be considered among the country’s most unstoppable wideouts in 2016.