CLEMSON -- A star is shaved into Brandon Clear's cropped hair, perhaps indicative of his star on the rise -- though he claims he is not "narcissistic."
Clemson receivers coach Jeff Scott said Clear made some of the greatest strides in a crowded wide receiver pack this summer. Clear continued his progress Saturday, catching in his first career touchdown, a 70-yard pass from Kyle Parker.
The 6-5 junior credited his growth this summer to improved "maturity." It paid off in the opener as he broke behind the North Texas defense to haul in a long throw and avoid a near stumble in the Tigers' 35-10 victory.
"The cornerbacks and safeties were sitting down, we knew the play was open," Clear said. "Kyle launched it and I was able to get under it." Making the moment sweeter for Clear was his father, Samuel Clear, in attendance, back from a tour in Afghanistan. Clear is a colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division, ironically known as the All-American Division. If his son develops into a star player he'll be able to see most Clemson games as he has been recalled to serve at Fort Monroe in Virginia.
Still, Clear has not secured a starting position.
Though he received the most targets (five) Saturday, he is one of eight receivers competing for playing time, and Scott said Clear "didn't grade out as high as I would have liked."
Receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown took the most snaps (16) of the receivers Saturday, but no receiver earned fewer than 12 plays.
Scott said Clemson will continue to play eight receivers Saturday against Presbyterian. Scott is looking for more film to evaluate before paring down the receiver rotation.
Most Dangerous Man
The Clemson staff has a MDM rule ("Most Dangerous Man") for its receivers in run blocking. Receivers must identify who is the more able tackler on a particular play -- the safety or corner -- and try to block the MDM.
Opposing defenses might start identifying Clemson true freshman DeAndre Hopkins as the most dangerous Tiger.
Not only is Hopkins a threat after the catch, or to out-leap opponents for a jumpball, but Hopkins delivered what Scott deemed the "most violent" block he had seen a receiver make in two years, decleating a North Texas safety Saturday.
Middle linebacker Corico Hawkins said some of his struggles Saturday were related to improper angles.
North Texas running back Lance Dunbar turned a short pass into a 35-yard gain after Hawkins took an incorrect angle and missed him on the sideline. Hawkins attributed part of the geometry issues to having to fight through traffic.
On a positive note, Hawkins, as the quarterback of the Tigers defense, said he had no issues getting the defense in the proper position.
Jonathan Willard, who started alongside Hawkins at weakside linebacker, also had his share of miscues.
On Dunbar's first long run, Hawkins and Willard crashed inside while Dunbar popped outside.
"There were probably three things that probably shouldn't have happened," Willard said of the play. "Basically the linebacker (Willard) was supposed to stay outside. … Dunbar stepped inside then went outside and kind of opened up a gap."
On the depth chart for the PC game, David Smith has emerged as the starter at left guard after entering the season listed as the co-starter with Mason Cloy.
Offensive line coach Brad Scott said Smith "got the most push" against North Texas' defensive linemen.
Scott was also pleased with the play of second-team tackles Phillip Price and Brandon Thomas. Price, a converted tight end, recorded 19 snaps and was the lead blocker on several running plays.
Scott credited running back Andre Ellington with showing "patience," waiting for his second touchdown run to develop, essentially placing his hand on the back of pulling center Dalton Freeman.
Defensive tackle Miguel Chavis (low-grade ankle sprain) wants to play Saturday … Jeff Scott said PC's bounce-pass play against Wake Forest was "pretty cool" … Sam Clear's other son, former Clemson player Byron Clear, might be destined for stardom off the football field, having interned for Comedy Central's "Colbert Report." . … Looking ahead to Week 3, Auburn linebacker Craig Stevens missed the Arkansas State game as the result of an indefinite suspension. Auburn QB Cam Newton accounted for five TDs.touchdowns.
Read more on Clemson at postandcourier.com/tigers
-- Travis Sawchik