We're breaking down the status of each position on the Clemson football team every week until kickoff.
By Morgan Thomas
Position Coach: Kyle Richardson
Kyle Richardson is coming into this year as one of the handful of new position coaches for Clemson. While this is his first fill season as an on-field coach for the Tigers, he is not a new face as he is entering his seventh season at Clemson. Richardson was one of the most successful high school coaches in the state of South Carolina during his time at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill. His overall record was 58-13 that included four regional championships and he won two out of three state championship appearances from 2013-2015. He has been a Clemson fan since birth and has been patiently waiting for his opportunity while helping the team in various support and analyst roles. Not only will he be the tight end coach but he is also taking on the role of passing game coordinator. Clemson needs a fresh start on offense and Richardson will be tasked to adjust the passing playbook to get the Tigers back on the list of the nation’s best.
My thoughts: This new role for Richardson should lead to more opportunities for the tight end to contribute to the Clemson passing attack. Clemson has lost its identity with respect to the tight end position. Long gone are the days of Jordan Leggett and Dwayne Allen. Has the position been a major threat in the passing game? Not really. Has the position been a solid blocking role in the running game? Not really. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the tools to improve. We will take a look at a few players who could make a name for themselves nationally next season.
Who is the starter?
Senior Davis Allen
Allen was the leading receiver at tight end in 2021. However, that did not equate to big time production as he finished the season with 28 catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns. He is the most experienced and reliable option for Clemson this season. Currently Davis has 1,141 career snaps over 40 games.
While he is Mr. Reliable for Clemson, he is also one of the many players who were sidelined this spring. Allen has been recovering from a shoulder injury and did not participate in spring practice or the spring game. Not having Allen all spring is definitely a negative for the offense that is desperately looking to find chemistry in the passing game. Allen should still be the veteran leader on and off the field. However, he absence could lead to a major opportunity for Clemson’s rising star in 2022.
Who is the rising star?
Sophomore Jake Briningstool
Brock Bowers. Everyone who watched college football last year should remember that name. He was the breakout star of Georgia in the college football playoffs. He finished as Freshman of the Year and First-Team All America.
What if I told you that Clemson has a tight end on their roster that was rated higher than Bowers as a recruit and was the No. 1 tight end overall in 2021? You might already know that I’m talking about Jake Bringingstool. You might also be saying, “well Morgan, recruiting rankings don’t matter.” You are right but what we should agree on is that there is potential, major potential. Briningstool has many of the same skills that Bowers has and he is two inches taller at 6-foot-5.
He is young, he is talented and he has the physical measurements. Add in the fact that he has been able to get in a ton of reps with quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik and we have a rising star on the roster. Look back at the spring game as well. With so many receivers out, Klubnik looked to Briningstool as his first choice each drive. He finished with a game-high seven receptions.
Best of the rest?
Redshirt Sophomore Sage Ennis
Ennis has been putting in the work to get more playing time over the past two seasons. Coming out of high school he played all over the field as a quarterback, a defensive end and tight end. At Clemson he has been used exclusively as a tight end and has continued to prove to the staff he deserves more opportunities. His off-season was also held up due to injury. He did not participate in spring practice or the spring game due to recovering from a knee injury.
Ennis will have to keep grinding and proving himself again this year as Briningstool looks to make a major push for starting time this season.
What will make 2022 a success?
It’s time to stop waiting around hoping the next great tight end will appear out of thin air at Clemson. The Tigers have a highly rated player on the roster and they need to get him involved now. With Richardson influencing the passing-game and also being the tight end position coach, this year looks to be the year. I want to see a Clemson tight end finish this season with over 500 yards receiving and at least five touchdowns.