Over the weekend, junior wide receiver/defensive back Ray-Ray McCloud announced that he plans to skip his senior season at Clemson, and enter the NFL Draft.
— LT Yo.Dùrtty™ (@RMIII_34) January 7, 2018
In his first season as a starter, Kelly Bryant completed 65.8 percent of his passes. One of his favorite targets was McCloud; over 14 percent of Clemson’s attempts were intend for the 5-foot-10 junior, per Football Study Hall — the third most on the team.
According to Football Study Hall, McCloud was targeted 65 times this season, which resulted in 49 receptions — a catch rate of 75.4 percent. McCloud caught plenty of short passes, which helps boost that percentage. However, he emerged as a solid down-field threat, too. McCloud and Bryant clearly had chemistry on those routes.
McCloud’s 49 receptions resulted in 503 receiving yards, which also ranked third on the roster. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow. As of right now, Cain and Renfrow appear to be headed back to Clemson for their senior seasons; if that’s the case, the Tigers will still have plenty of experienced weapons.
This will also mean more opportunities for promising freshman receiver Tee Higgins, too.
One of a kind: Almost
To go along with his 49 receptions this season, Ray-Ray McCloud also returned 25 punts for 303 yards and a touchdown — a 77-yarder against NC State. This puts McCloud in some pretty cool company this season.
According to Sports Reference, only two FBS players in the 2017 season recorded at least 40 catches, one touchdown reception, returned at least 20 punts and one punt return for a touchdown. McCloud and Dante Pettis of Washington are the only two players to hit those benchmarks. Dating back to the 2000 season, only 11 other ACC players have done this.
A preseason hand injury last fall forced Ray-Ray McCloud to get some reps at another position: defensive back. That practice time wasn’t a waste, either.
In an homage to DeAngleo Hall, McCloud ended up playing all three phases for Clemson in 2017. McCloud made some key plays down the stretch of the NC State game — a big win for Clemson that saw McCloud mark second team All-ACC receiver Kelvin Harmon.
According to Shakin The Southland — Clemson’s SB Nation affiliate — there was some belief that defensive back may be McCloud’s future position in the pros. In which case, an extra year getting reps at the position in Death Valley would be valuable.