Clive Walford: Senior, Height: 6'4" Weight: 263
The return of Clive Walford
After totaling 454 receiving yards and placing second on the team in receptions in 2013, Clive Walford decided in early January that he would forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season as a Miami Hurricane. Here's Clive Walford's official statement on his decision to stay at Miami:
"I think that the program is heading back to national recognition the way that Coach Golden and his staff are constructing and leading this team," Walford said. "Waiting for the NFL (for another year) will only make me a more complete player overall and increase my knowledge of the game."
Clive Walford has proven to be the most capable tight end on campus since appearing in 12 games his freshman year. Now entering his last year at Miami, Walford is eager to leave his greatest mark and continue to surpass his earlier milestones.
Late in 2013 is when thoughts of his potential really began to take shape. Through Miami's first ten games his contributions had been minimal. He averaged a mere 21.7 yards a game. Then, with a sudden burst against Miami's final two opponents, Clive surpassed his entire season total for the previous ten games (USF & Duke: 234 yds, last 10 opp.: 217 yds). Setting the platform for greater expectations and cementing his current benchmark at around 450 yards a season.
‘Clutch Clive' was a phrase often thrown around this past year, and with good reason: Walford had an impressive stretch of play with 20 of 22 catches resulting in a first down. By the end of the season Clive tallied 19 first downs and 17 gains of 15+ yards.
A stat that goes under appreciated: 20 of Clive Walford's last 22 catches have resulted in first down or TD. Proof > pic.twitter.com/Emc7aky7fn— Chris Yandle (@ChrisYandle) October 13, 2013
Two plays of promise
Clive Walford's one handed catch on 3rd and 3 while trailing early against Wake Forest
This play is not the sexiest, nor is it befitting of an Eric Ebron highlight, but a telling possibility of what Clive Walford can be. Reliability is a must from Walford with the questions surrounding Miami's quarterback situation. This eagerness for the ball is a major talking point in supporting the argument that 2014 is Clive's breakout year. A handful of these throughout the season and Clive Walford becomes a threat almost as deadly as Miami's wide receiver corps.
Rumbling for a first down after given space by North Carolina's defense
What's to be noticed in this play? Clive Walford's quickness to turn upfield. At times, Walford appears unnatural or nonthreatening sprinting after the catch. In this situation, Clive has a full head of steam and it carries over into a first down. Granted he received help from Allen Hurns and Ereck Flowers blocking downfield, but it's the athleticism shown here that'll result in far more yards his senior year. YAC is an area, that if improved, will heighten Clive Walford's receiving yards significantly. If you can't steamroll defenders, run, and run fast.
Is this the year Clive Walford exceeds 500 yards receiving?
None of this is to say Clive Walford's performance on the field was elite, or even highly regarded within the likes of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clive ranked 5th among ACC tight ends in receiving yards, 4th in receptions. The improvements Walford brought to Miami at the position deserve applause, but nationally, as well as in the conference, his play was considered average. There are still key areas in Clive's play that need addressing, but we must set expectations.
Yards after the catch. As seen above, Clive has the tools to earn quality YAC. This wasn't visible throughout his early years where it took spaced defenders for Walford to pick up added yards. Clive Walford must learn to run with confidence and quickness.
Dropped balls plagued Walford in crucial situations. It doesn't occur to you now, but there were times this past season where Stephen Morris placed the ball where it needed to be. Unfortunately, Clive Walford was on the receiving end and failed to do his part. Moving forward Clive Walford's untimely drops need addressing if he is to flirt around the 500 yard mark.
Quarterback. Youth and inexperience at this position may either be a blessing or a burden to Clive Walford. The latter being obvious, and the former that Clive has the potential to distinguish himself as a safety valve to learning quarterbacks.
Reliability. Reliability fits hand in hand with the notion that QBs will lean on the tight ends. Dropped passes are attributed to this category as well. Clive Walford in his senior season must be dependable in the run, which he's proven, and in the passing game for him to surpass expectations.