CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The obvious questions surrounding Clemson focus on the players who are no longer with the defending national champions.
QB Deshaun Watson, who led the winning drive against Alabama in last season's title game at Raymond James Stadium, is gone. LB Ben Boulware, WR Mike Williams and RB Wayne Gallman have left, too.
But Tigers coach Dabo Swinney isn't worried about the players who have left for the NFL. He'd much rather talk about the talent he has returning to a program set for another top-10 run.
"Nobody is asking me about Deon Cain yet," Swinney said of the former Tampa Bay Tech quarterback. "This is one of the best receivers in the country. He's had unbelievable moments."
And this looks like the season the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior could turn those unbelievable moments into an unforgettable season.
Talent isn't the question. His 18.1 yards per catch rank fourth in Clemson's rich history of receivers. His 14 touchdowns have come on only 72 career catches.
But Cain has had to wait his turn, behind Williams (the No. 7 overall pick in this spring's NFL draft) and former East Lake High standout Artavis Scott, who left as Clemson's all-time leader in receptions. With both gone, Swinney said it's time for Cain and former Sickles High star Ray-Ray McCloud to break out.
"He's been there, done that …" Swinney said of Cain. "In my mind, he's a proven player."
Miami QB race
Miami exited the spring with no clarity on who will replace the school's all-time leading passer. The offseason hasn't done much to change the competition in who will follow Brad Kaaya.
Coach Mark Richt said he's comfortable with his top two returning veterans, redshirt junior Malik Rosier and sophomore Evan Shirreffs. He also said true freshmen Cade Weldon (Jefferson High) and N'Kosi Perry should be in the mix.
"I want to find the guy," Richt said. "I'm not ready to do that yet."
Richt said he hopes to identify a starter shortly after the second scrimmage, if not sooner.
"I scheduled it, so I'd better be ready for it," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher on the mammoth Sept. 2 season opener against Alabama in Atlanta
While five-star early enrollee RB Cam Akers is getting national attention, Fisher continues to talk up sophomore Amir Rasul. … Another honor for the Tampa duo of Cain and McCloud: OL Tyrone Crowder said they're Clemson's two best dressers. … Swinney said junior Kelly Bryant remains the frontrunner to replace Watson as Clemson's starting quarterback. … Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said DL Kyle Cerge-Henderson (Plant High) is among the players who could emerge this fall. … Richt told Miami reporters that DL Gerald Willis, a former Gator and blue-chip recruit, is no longer enrolled at the school because of personal reasons.
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