With Braden Galloway suspended, this Clemson tight end is ready to step up

When the NCAA announced last month that it was upholding the suspensions of a pair of Clemson football players that tested positive for the PED ostarine, it left Clemson with a hole at starting tight end.

Sophomore Braden Galloway appeared to be far-and-away Clemson’s best option at tight end for 2019, but Galloway will be ineligible until at least the 2019 postseason.

That leaves true freshmen Jaelyn Lay and Davis Allen and redshirt junior J.C. Chalk as the only scholarship tight ends available for the upcoming season.

Chalk, who has only four receptions for 40 yards thus far in his career, is expected to be the starter when fall camp opens.

“Whatever opportunities I get I’m going to take full advantage of them. I’m excited for it,” Chalk told The State in January. “Whatever they ask me to do I’m going to try to do. If it’s gonna be spread out in the pass game more I’ll do that. If it’s stay in on the line and be more physical on the point of attack and help for the run game I’ll do that.”

The 6-foot-3, 260 pounder played in all 15 games for the Tigers last season but was used mostly as a blocking tight end. He could be used more in the passing game this year and is confident in his abilities.

“I’m versatile for sure,” Chalk said. “I can be at the point of attack and block. I can hold my own there and then also I can spread out in the pass game and hold my own there. I can do both.”

Former Clemson tight end Garrett Williams, who has a year of eligibility remaining but is not expected to use his final year, believes Chalk is ready to step up.

“J.C. has gotten so much better over his time here. He has good hands. He runs good routes,” Williams said. “If he keeps working at it and keeps developing an aggressive mindset he can be a really, really good blocker too. He’s heavier than I am and he’s got good powerful hands. I think he can offer a lot to the table.”

Clemson returns a ton of firepower on offense, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins.

The one potential weakness is at tight end, but Chalk is going to do everything he can to help the Tigers replace the faster and more athletic Galloway.

“He’s one of my good friends. I’ve grown a great relationship with him this past year, so my heart really hurts for him that he’s having to go through all of this,” Chalk said. “Whatever they ask me to do I’m going to be willing to do. I’m just excited for the opportunity.”