Clemson lost starting wide receiver Charone Peake for the season with a knee injury last week, and one of Peake's former high school teammates in Spartanburg, S.C., will be asked to step into the breach.
Good news for Clemson is that junior Adam Humphries (5-feet-11, 190 pounds) was a key receiver last season and should fit seamlessly into the starting lineup Thursday night in an ACC game at North Carolina State.
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"We're fortunate to have a guy like Adam who can slide right into that spot," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters.
Tigers coaches had been expecting good seasons from Peake (6-2, 205) and Martavis Bryant (6-5, 200) in complementary roles to star Sammy Watkins (6-1, 205). Though not as fast as Watkins, Bryant and Peake are physically gifted receivers with good size and speed, though not necessarily with focus or good hands. Peake had eight receptions and a TD in two games, but, as usual, Bryant's production has not matched his potential, as he has four receptions in two games. Still, those four catches have gone for 87 yards (21.8 yards per reception).
Humphries is a plodder compared to Clemson's other receivers, but he has good hands, runs crisp routes and never wavers on his focus. He had 41 receptions last season (six more than Bryant and Peake combined) to rank third on the team and has seven this season. Humphries was the Tigers' No. 3 receiver last season, behind DeAndre Hopkins and Watkins. Humphries is not going to beat anyone deep, but he does give Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd a proven possession receiver.
Clemson also is counting on redshirt freshman Germane Hopper (6-0, 180) to be a productive member of the rotation. He has six receptions and two TDs this season, though all his receptions came against overmatched FCS opponent South Carolina State.
Peake's absence will put more pressure on Watkins and Bryant to be playmakers. Watkins is one of the most talented receivers in the nation and can handle the role. Bryant needs to show he can produce. He has all the needed physical tools, but that never has translated to the field.
More help could come from the tight ends. Sophomore Stanton Seckinger has replaced Darrell Smith as the starter. Smith, who also plays fullback, is a good blocker, much better in that role than Seckinger. But Seckinger is the better receiver. In addition, true freshman Jordan Leggett, who was set to start before suffering a knee sprain in camp, slowly is rounding into form and could provide even more of a receiving presence.