CLEMSON — Three of Clemson's top "Wide Receiver U" students are expected to give the Tigers' offense a jolt in 2021.
Senior Justyn Ross and junior Frank Ladson Jr. didn't play in Clemson's spring game April 3, but junior Joseph Ngata did and provided a peek into how the unit could look this fall.
Ngata caught six passes for 83 yards in the annual Orange & White game on Saturday. Ross sat out with a spine injury and Ladson was out for an undisclosed reason.
"His upside," Swinney said of Ngata, "is through the roof."
Swinney has been hyping Ngata since the Folsom, Calif., product stepped foot on campus, but Ngata's production has yet to live up to the buzz. He played sparingly as a freshman in 2019 — 17 catches for 240 yards and three touchdowns — and then was limited to seven games in 2020 because of an abdominal injury.
In the spring game, Ngata finally got to show Clemson fans what he's capable of as a primary option.
Late in the third quarter, quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei stepped into a 49-yard pass that landed perfectly in Ngata's hands. It was the kind of deep connection absent at times in 2020.
"He's going to make a million plays (in 2021) if he's healthy," Swinney sad. "That's really the only thing that held him back."
Ross and Ladson are expected to be ready by the start of fall camp, but their absences April 3 provided opportunities for others to shine. That included sophomore Ajou Ajou, who caught six passes for a game-high 102 yard and one touchdown.
Ajou said he feels more comfortable playing fast after his freshman season.
"Getting the concepts down, that definitely made me more confident in my playability," Ajou said.
Ajou might not be penciled in for the same number of targets as Ross, Ngata and Ladson, but Swinney indicated the sophomore could still play a big part of the offense this season.
"He's a unique guy. He's very different from some of the other guys we have," Swinney said. "I think he's a guy we'll be able to use a lot of different ways as he goes through his career."
Clemson also had strong contributions from a pair of freshman wideouts: Dacari Collins had two catches for 48 yards, and Beaux Collins had two receptions for 19 yards.