How freshman WR Bryant Wesco has ‘exceeded expectations’ with Clemson

Last year, as a Clemson football commit, Bryant Wesco Jr. watched the Tigers start 4-4 and fail to produce explosive plays, especially in the passing game.

Now, with the 2024 season less than 100 days away, he’s giving Clemson fans an early heads up: This year, expect those struggles to fade away.

“We’re gonna be different than last year,” Wesco, a highly touted true freshman wide receiver, said Saturday. “We’re gonna have a lot more players than last year and, hopefully, we’re gonna stay healthy, stay hungry and we’re just going to keep being an explosive offense.”

As Clemson finished last season with its worst record since 2010, one of the saving graces among the fanbase was the thought of Wesco — a four-star recruit and top 50 national prospect in the Class of 2024 — bringing in some much-needed playmaking ability the following fall along with fellow freshman receiver T.J. Moore.

For Wesco, 18, that journey’s already underway. He enrolled early at Clemson in January 2024 and quickly became one of the most talked about players during the Tigers’ spring practice circuit, with veteran teammates on offense and defense alike raving about his natural talent.

The buzz only grew during Clemson’s annual Orange and White Spring Game, which saw the rangy, 6-foot-2 Wesco rise up in the left corner of the end zone at Memorial Stadium and snag a 9-yard touchdown on a fade route in front of thousands of fans.

The receiver’s reaction to that growing hype train?

“I’ve gotta keep myself humble,” Wesco told The State in his first media interview since enrolling at Clemson. “Keep myself down, nose to the ground, and just stay humble.”

Wesco was in Greenville on Saturday for a name, image and likeness (NIL) event sponsored by Wilder Side of Sports, a national sports card and memorabilia company. As part of the paid appearance, he and a Clemson teammate, star sophomore safety Khalil Barnes, signed autographs and mingled with fans during a 90-minute session at Haywood Mall.

And there were plenty of selfie requests for Wesco, who arrived at Clemson as the No. 13 wide receiver and No. 48 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings for the 2024 class.

An Under Armour All-American Game selection who caught 29 career touchdowns and was a track star at Midlothian High School in Texas, Wesco said he’s had a “great transition” from high school to college since he enrolled at Clemson in January.

That included an adjustment to a college schedule, some initial work on the pre-business degree he’s pursuing and an immediate wake-up call the first day of spring practice.

“I learned that you’ve gotta be a lot more physical now,” Wesco said. “Not everybody in high school is able to go to the next level. Everyone here is great. So there’s been a big transition: Playing everyone how I would play the best player on the team.”

Wesco said he’s already developed a strong relationship with Adam Randall, a junior receiver who’s been a big help “since I stepped foot on campus,” and he’s building a similar rapport with Moore, a five-star 2024 receiver recruit from Florida who enrolled earlier this month.

And, even if Wesco was keeping his head down, the skills that helped him finish fifth in the triple jump at the Texas 5A state meet last spring and rack up 619 yards and 13 touchdowns in just seven games his senior year translated quickly.

Wesco was consistently identified as a young player standing out through spring practice and drew frequent praise from coach Dabo Swinney, including after he caught three passes for 26 yards and the game’s only receiving touchdown in Clemson’s April 6 spring game.

“He’s going to be a factor,” Swinney said. “I can guarantee you that.”

Bryant Wesco (19) practices for the Under Armour Next All-America Game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida on December 30, 2023.
Bryant Wesco (19) practices for the Under Armour Next All-America Game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida on December 30, 2023.

The weight question

At the same time, there’s one big “if” surrounding Wesco and just how much he can get on the field and make an impact for quarterback Cade Klubnik and a Clemson offense that needs to take a big step forward in Garrett Riley’s second season as offensive coordinator.

His frame.

“Gotta have a big summer,” Swinney said of Wesco after the spring game. “It’s a long season, and right now he’s not built for it. He’s got a lot of work to do between now and August.”

Wesco was listed at 170 pounds on Clemson’s online roster ahead of spring practice, which made him the third lightest player on the roster behind two walk-on kickers. At the time of his enrollment, Wesco told The State, he remembered weighing 166.

But Wesco has devoted himself to getting stronger and bulking up for the wear and tear of a college football season, something he hopes to continue through the summer.

Since January, he has gained roughly 20 pounds of healthy weight through Clemson’s strength and conditioning and nutrition programs and has gone from 166 to 185.

“I’m not sure where I’m gonna end up (weighing) by the time the season gets here,” he said. “But I’ll be around there.”

And no, no extreme dieting or extra calories required.

“I wasn’t eating much prior to college,” Wesco said. “ I guess whenever I got to college, I was just eating as much as a normal person should.”

With his freshman year and a huge season opener against Georgia in Atlanta in his sights, Wesco said he’s gotten a consistent message from Swinney and his position coach, Tyler Grisham, about how he can get on the field.

“They’ve seen great improvement in me throughout the spring,” Wesco said. “They said I came in and exceeded their expectations, but that I’ve also been improving, I’ve been working. They said to just keep gaining weight and staying the course.”