3 Clemson football breakout candidates in 2020

clemson football

Clemson football is one of the sport’s premier programs. Dabo Swinney’s team hasn’t missed the College Football Playoff since 2014, and the Tigers have four championship appearances during that time. Clemson maintains its dominance through superior recruiting and a “next man up” mentality. Every season, several new players emerge as key contributors.

Like all programs, Clemson constantly loses players to the draft, transfer portal and injuries. This year is no exception, but the Tigers aren’t worried. Several players, including the following three, are already proving their value as starters.

Braden Galloway, TE

Galloway returns to the spotlight after an odd start to his college career. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end only played three games as a freshman before suffering a severe suspension for failing a drug test before the 2018 national championship. He missed the entire 2019 regular season and only appeared in last year’s loss to LSU in the title game.

In his one appearance, Galloway made two receptions for 60 yards. He’s already matched that total this season, making five receptions for 60 yards in Clemson’s 37-13 stomping of Wake Forest. The Tigers haven’t had a tight end with as much potential as Galloway since Jordan Leggett went to the NFL in 2017.

In a season where Clemson’s receiving options are limited, Galloway should play an enormous role in the offense.

Myles Murphy, DE

With Xavier Thomas redshirting, Clemson needs a new player to step up as the wonderboy on the defensive line. Thomas entered 2019 with a lot of hype, but the former five-star recruit only turned in 1.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. With the Thomas hype train momentarily stalling out, Tigers fans can throw their weight behind Murphy.

At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Murphy possesses a rare combination of power and speed. Last week, he wrecked Wake Forest’s game plan, amassing a team-leading seven tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. Murphy represents a new era of Clemson defensive linemen, which includes fellow freshman Bryan Bresee and sophomore Tyler Davis.

Joseph Ngata, WR

Clemson knew Tee Higgins was heading to the NFL in the 2020 Draft. However, the program anticipated having Justyn Ross around to ease the loss. Higgins did the same thing when Deon Cain entered the NFL in 2018. However, Clemson ruled Ross out for at least the 2020 college football season because of a congenital fusion in his neck/spine.

Losing Ross meant Clemson entered this year without the team’s two leading receivers from 2019. Luckily, Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers both returned for their senior seasons. Etienne finished third on the team in receiving yards last year while Rodgers finished fourth.

Despite Rodgers’ return, all eyes are on Ngata and fellow sophomore receiver Frank Ladson Jr. Ngata and Ladson saw limited action in 2019, but both possess the physicality and size typical of recent Clemson wide receivers. Ngata is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, while Ladson is 6-foot-3, 195 pounds.

Last year, Ngata made 17 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns. In Clemson’s season opener, the former four-star recruit made three receptions for 48 yards. Look for him and Ladson to get more involved as the season continues and Clemson faces stiffer competition.