CLEMSON — Clemson sophomore receiver Ajou Ajou put on a show in the Orange vs. White spring game, catching a game-high six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The performance was surprising to some after Ajou caught only two passes in his first season on campus, but it didn’t catch Tigers coach Dabo Swinney off guard.
“What you guys saw in the spring game is what we saw on the practice field all spring,” Swinney said earlier this week on Packer and Durham. “He took it to another level. He made a big jump.”
Ajou looked like a completely different player from the one who flashed potential but still obviously had a lot of room to grow last fall.
For Ajou, he feels like he made the biggest jump in one particular area.
“Just playing fast, not thinking about it,” he said after the spring game. “I used to be in my head a lot and I’d be thinking about the route or whatever. I’d just be thinking too much. Now I just go out there and have fun.”
He certainly played fast in the Orange vs. White game, while showing off his versatility as a receiver.
Ajou had success against Clemson’s cornerbacks whether running a slant, a fade or making a play in the scramble drill.
He knows much more about the playbook than he did a year ago.
“Just getting the concepts down, that definitely made me more confident in my playing ability,” Ajou said. “After that you’re just going out there and playing, not thinking too much.”
Ajou looks like he’s ready to be a consistent contributor for the Tigers in 2021, which he clearly wasn’t ready to do a year ago.
“He was terrible in the fall as far as being a good football player. I mean just you couldn’t trust him, knowing what to do, the game was really fast,” Swinney said. “But he just grew up in the spring.”
Clemson has plenty of talent at wideout, especially if Justyn Ross is cleared, and that could limit Ajou’s opportunities this season.
But he’s gone from a young player with some potential to being someone who can help the Tigers now and could be a star down the road.
“He’s still got a ways to go, I don’t want to get the cart before the horse here. He’s still putting it together and developing. But he has a chance to be a guy,” Swinney said. “He’ll be a guy that will make some plays this year. But he’ll be a lot of fun to watch if he stays the course. When he leaves here he’s going to be a really unique player at that position.”