Clemson football: 5 questions the Clemson Tigers must answer in 2020

Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Clemson football
Clemson football (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

3. How will pass-catchers step up without Justyn Ross?

Clemson football already knew they would have to replace their leading wide receiver from the 2019 season as Tee Higgins, who caught 59 balls for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, headed for the NFL Draft. What they weren’t initially planning on, however, was playing the 2020 campaign without rising junior Justyn Ross. Yet, that’s the reality they’ve now entered.

Ross underwent season-ending surgery on his neck after an X-ray revealed that two of his vertebrae were fused together, an issue the procedure corrected. Ross was going to be the Tigers’ leading returning pass-catcher by a wide margin and a focal point of the passing offense. But now that he’s unavailable, the question becomes who will step up in the offense.

The Tigers aren’t short on options. Amari Rodgers, Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson and Cornell Powell are all options with some level of experience. Of course, it also has to be mentioned that only Rodgers had more than 400 receiving yards last season out of that group and no one in that mix had more than four touchdown receptions, which also belonged to Rodgers.

Even still, with Lawrence at quarterback, these guys will have opportunities to capitalize on their talent. Furthermore, Etienne remains an option out of the backfield and the return of tight end Braden Galloway, a player who missed all of last season due to a suspension, can’t be overlooked either. But the simple truth is that these guys will all play a more pivotal role than expected with Ross no longer able to suit up in 2020.