CLEMSON — Joseph Ngata was a blue-chip wide receiver out of Folsom, Calif. that has a terrific combination of size and speed. Exactly the type of traits a program is looking for in a bonafide star outside wide receiver.
Heading into his third season at Clemson, Ngata may just be ready to reach the ceiling.
The former top-10 prospect in the state of California has played 426 career snaps over the last two seasons and started three games in 2020. In that time, Ngata has recorded 24 receptions for 323 yards and three touchdowns. However, an abdominal injury caused Ngata to miss time in 2020. Now healthy, the 6-foot-3 and 220-pound wideout is looking to make a major impact.
The head football coach is a believer in Ngata’s ability and potential.
“This kid is incredibly gifted,” said Dabo Swinney on Saturday. “He’s still getting 100%, but he’s been out there competing. He’s had a great spring. It’s really just having a great summer, getting his body right where it needs to be, continue to really work on his rehab and his recovery. He’s going to make a million plays if he’s healthy.”
With Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell both off to the NFL, Clemson has 130 receptions to replace on the outside. The Tigers have recruited well, but there are injury concerns. Justyn Ross and Frank Ladson Jr. were both held out of the spring game. Sophomores Ajou Ajou and E.J. Williams still need to develop into consistent players that can be accountable on a weekly basis.
This is where the upperclassmen Ngata could step in and carve out a role. Playing with D.J. Uiagalelei on the Orange team in the spring game, the junior was the top target for Clemson’s starting quarterback. Ngata reeled in six receptions on nine targets and averaged 13.8 yards per catch. The outside receiver was responsible for the team’s only two explosive pass plays of the game and made a terrific jump-ball catch for a 49-yard gain in the third quarter.
Clemson needs some vertical playmaking to emerge on the perimeter and Ngata may be the guy to provide some splash plays. The speed is there to get down the field and the size gives the junior a chance to consistently make contested catches thanks to physicality and jumping ability. All the tools are there for Ngata to capitalize on this opportunity.
“His upside is through the roof,” said Swinney.