CLEMSON — Last season, Clemson wide receiver Diondre Overton admitted that he had considered transferring from the Tiger program.
“I definitely feel like I can go somewhere else and be a starter. But that’s not how I like it for me. There’s a lot of competition here and it’s going to be a competition at the next level. It is pretty much getting me ready early on. Just getting prepared (for the NFL). This is only going to make me better.”
But his patience has proven to be a massive gift to the Tigers.
When starting slot wide receiver Amari Rodgers was carried off the field with an ACL tear, there was an immediate void that needed to be filled.
The 6-foot-4 inch senior wide receiver has amassed only 425 yards on 30 receptions and four touchdowns in his career, but Overton believes he can be a big problem for defenses in the slot — much like fellow Tiger Justyn Ross was in the College Football Playoff games in which he amassed more than 300 yards and three touchdowns.
“It could be an opportunity, but I feel bad for my boy Amari,” Overton said. “Hopefully, he has a speedy recovery but it's the next-man-up mentality and hopefully, if I can play that role, I will do a good job.”
Regardless of whether he is pegged for the role of slot receiver for the Tigers in 2019, or until Rodgers is cleared to play, Overton believes the cross-training will help him wherever he ends up on the field.
“There really isn't much of a difference. You just have to understand the concepts and once you get it down it will all come easy,” Overton said. “I am trying to learn all of the positions so I can be versatile so I can be ready when my number is called. I feel like I can produce good matchups during games. It's not about being fast, it's just about going out there and doing your job and getting the job done.”
With a bevy of talented receivers — including fellow veterans T.J. Chase and Cornell Powell, along with talented true freshmen Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata -- all vying for the now vacant position, the Tigers are still doing everything they can to make sure Rodgers understands they are all behind him.
“There’s a lot of names – everybody’s ready to step in and fill that role,” Overton said. “T.J. Chase, Cornell Powell, even some of the freshmen coming in. It’ll be whoever wants it more. It’s a tough task, but you have to have that mindset of ‘next guy up.’ You’ve got to be ready and put time in and be ready when you’re called.
“We are just trying to motivate him and keep his head up a little bit. He knows all of our arms are around him and supporting him. We know he is going to come back better than ever.”
Through the first nine practices this fall, Overton has made the most of his name being called.
"We've been shuffling guys around, but I think Diondre has been as good as any wideout in the first eight practices," wide receivers coach Jeff Scott said. "He is really confident. He's playing fast. He does a really good job in the slot and did a really good job (in the Tigers' scrimmage) in a few important things."