5 players who can help Clemson football improve on offense in 2022

·4 min read

As Clemson football’s Sept. 5 season opener against Georgia Tech approaches, The State is highlighting Tigers players you need to know for 2022.

Here are five potential breakout players for Clemson’s offense.

TE Jake Briningstool

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 227 pounds

Last year: three catches, 67 yards, one touchdown, eight games (102 snaps)

It took a while for Briningstool to find his spot in Clemson’s offense as a true freshman. But when he did, his contributions were hard to miss. His first career catch was a diving grab against Florida State, and his two grabs against UConn went for 31 yards and a 25-yard touchdown. In an admittedly limited sample size, that’s 22.3 yards per catch.

Senior Davis Allen is Clemson’s most well-rounded tight end, a more-than-capable blocker and receiver, but expect “Brinny” to see more first-team reps and targets in 2022. Position coach Kyle Richardson said Briningstool’s athleticism is comparable to that of two-time Mackey Award finalist and Clemson star Jordan Leggett.

Clemson’s Will Taylor at the Tigers’ first practice of 2022 camp on Friday, Aug. 5.
Clemson’s Will Taylor at the Tigers’ first practice of 2022 camp on Friday, Aug. 5.

WR Will Taylor

Measurables: 5-10, 182 pounds

Last year: 104 all-purpose yards, five games (15 snaps)

Clemson wasted no time in deploying Taylor, a converted quarterback with game-breaking speed and playmaking ability. In his true freshman debut, he started at punt returner against Georgia. A week later, he recorded the program’s longest punt return (51 yards) in three years. Oh, and he took snaps at wildcat quarterback.

In other words, there’s absolutely a 2022 spot for Taylor, who’s fully recovered from a torn ACL last October. Veteran Brannon Spector is the expected starter at slot receiver, but Taylor is a plug-and-play talent who will be hard to keep off the field. He’s also working exclusively with the receivers room as a sophomore, which should lead to further refinement at that position.

Clemson’s Blake Miller at spring practice Friday, March 4, 2022.
Clemson’s Blake Miller at spring practice Friday, March 4, 2022.

OL Blake Miller

Measurables: 6-6, 317 pounds

Last year: N/A (high school)

Fellow offensive lineman Walker Parks likes to call Miller “the silent killer.” Rarely does the former four-star 2022 recruit say a word, but his physicality is unmatched. Enough so that “he might earn a starting spot on this unit,” Parks said. High praise from a veteran teammate.

Miller has primarily been working at right tackle, while Parks has been splitting reps at right guard and right tackle (where he started all of 2021). Regardless of how things shake out, having a true freshman in contention for first-team reps is an intriguing development. Miller has also cross-trained at guard as Clemson strives for better line-wide depth in 2022.

RB Phil Mafah

Measurables: 6-1, 228 pounds

Last year: 68 carries, 292 yards, three touchdowns, nine games (170 snaps)

With Mafah, Will Shipley and Kobe Pace, the Tigers have a depth at running back that reminds coach Dabo Swinney of their recent College Football Playoff opponents (think Alabama and Ohio State). Mafah’s already broken out per se, but he’s on this list because his sophomore potential is tantalizing.

The running back, lovingly dubbed “Mafah Man” by position coach CJ Spiller, was supposed to redshirt his true freshman season. But he ended up assuming a key role down the stretch, with 69 yards against Florida State and 43 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina. Mafah will obviously be in a time-share backfield, but with more touches he should be even better.

WR EJ Williams

Measurables: 6-3, 191 pounds

Last year: nine catches, 66 yards, eight games (250 snaps)

Williams has been here before: His 24 catches and 306 yards as a true freshman both ranked fifth on Clemson’s 2020 CFP team. Progress slowed his sophomore year, though, as Williams missed four games with injury and a fifth, Clemson’s Cheez-It Bowl win, due to COVID-19 protocols. He also missed Clemson’s full spring practice slate after surgery.

Early returns for 2022 have been strong, as evidenced by Williams’ highlight-reel catch in Monday’s practice. Position coach Tyler Grisham said Williams “should play all three” receiver positions for Clemson, too, offering him further chances to work in on the outside (at the field and boundary spots) and on the inside (at slot).