CLEMSON — Diondre Overton didn't want to transfer. But some people back home in Greensboro, N.C., had been "getting into" the wide receiver's head.
He had one year of college eligibility remaining and Clemson had a stacked wide receiving corps. So in August, Overton met with co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott one-on-one, telling him he was considering entering his name in the NCAA transfer portal.
Overton said he didn't "think hard" about entering the portal. But he entertained the possibility. In the meeting, Scott, who also serves as the Tigers' wide receivers coach, reaffirmed his belief in Overton and commended his work ethic. He preached patience. Overton's time was coming, the coach said.
"He just kept it real with me," Overton said of Scott. "That's really what kept me here. He showed me that he had faith in me."
Overton's big night finally came Saturday against Boston College. Overton, who earned an undergraduate degree from Clemson in August and is now in the university's athletic leadership graduate program, tied a program record Saturday by catching three touchdown passes. He finished with three receptions for 119 yards in Clemson's 59-7 victory.
Some thought it would come sooner. Overton, who entered the season with 30 catches and four touchdowns in his career, started the campaign as the slot receiver with starter Amari Rodgers out nursing a torn ACL in his right knee.
Overton caught just one pass for 3 yards in the opener, and by Week 2, Rodgers was back. Overton was relegated back to a minimal role and had only caught four passes leading into Clemson's Week 8 game at Louisville, during which he recorded three catches for 43 yards. Still, he had yet to find the end zone all season.
That changed with about five minutes left in the first quarter Saturday, when quarterback Trevor Lawrence found Overton open on a flat route. Overton caught the ball, turned back inside and sprinted past the Eagles defenders, extending his arms to his sides as he galloped into the end zone.
The 22-yard reception was hardly Overton's most impressive feat Saturday. Early in the third quarter, Lawrence scampered out to his left and slipped a ball over a defender's hands to Overton, who sprinted untouched the rest of the way for the 63-yard score.
"He's had opportunities to leave and play somewhere else, and he's stuck it out," Lawrence said. "I couldn't be happier for him."
"He's really the only guy in our wide receiver group that every week has to know all three positions," Scott said. "It's a great message, when it's easy in this day and age to jump in the portal if you're not starting and not getting the opportunities you want. I think this a pretty awesome example of a guy being rewarded for sticking it out."
Scott can speak from experience. Before the season, running back Tavien Feaster transferred to South Carolina when it became clear his touches would be limited this season in favor of junior Travis Etienne and sophomore Lyn-J Dixon. And quarterback Kelly Bryant transferred to Missouri after Lawrence beat him out for Clemson's starting job last year.
Overton opted for a different route.
He scored once more Saturday early in the fourth quarter, this time on a 34-yard pass from backup quarterback Chase Brice. He returned to the sideline and was greeted by Lawrence and safety K'Von Wallace and many more.
"I felt that love for the first time," Overton said.
Afterwards he was awarded a leather helmet, which is given annually to the MVP of Clemson's game against Boston College as a nod to the schools' long history. Former Tigers running back C.J. Spiller was the first Clemson player to earn a leather helmet, back in 2008.
Overton slipped it over his head and smiled for the camera.
"I was hoping and praying for a night like this," he said.