After being drafted 33rd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins enjoyed a breakout second season, as he helped the Bengals reached Super Bowl LVI — their first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. In college, Higgins also played for a championship in his second season, when Clemson won the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship to cap off the 2018 season.
Here's everything you need to know about Tee Higgins' college career.
The vitals on Tee Higgins
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 215 pounds
Years active: 2017-19
Here are Tee Higgins' career receiving stats in college. You may need to scroll to the right to view the complete stats.
Higgins played in 13 of Clemson's 14 games as a freshman but he only recorded a reception in seven of them.
Where did Tee Higgins go to college?
Tee Higgins attended Clemson, which he chose over reported scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas A&M, according to 247Sports.
What kind of prospect was Tee Higgins in high school?
Higgins was a five-star recruit from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who was ranked as the No. 19 prospect and No. 2 wide receiver nationally in the 2017 graduating class, according to 247Sports. Clemson lost star wide receiver Mike Williams to the NFL and according to the AP's Pete Iacobelli, "the Tigers were in need of a tall, lanky playmaker on the outside and the 6-foot-4 Higgins seems to fit the bill."
He competed in the Under Armour All-America Game and in 2016, he was named to the All-USA Second Team by USA Today. His 247Sports recruiting profile listed his ball skills as a 10, the highest possible rating, and his hands and size were given a level nine rating.
"Clemson went to Tennessee and beat out the Vols for the No. 2 receiver in the country," reported The State (above) on National Signing Day in February 2017. "Higgins is 6-foot-4 with impressive hands and will provide a big target for whoever the Tigers' quarterback is."
What was Tee Higgins' record in college?
In the 43 games he played in at Clemson, the Tigers went 41-2, including an undefeated 15-0 season in 2018, when they won the College Football Playoff National Championship. They went 14-1 the following season.
Records set by Tee Higgins
Here are some of the notable records and statistical rankings set by Higgins in college:
- T-1st in Clemson history in receiving touchdowns in a game: Three (vs. Wake Forest, 2019; vs. Virginia, 2019)
- T-1st in Clemson history in career receiving touchdowns: 27 touchdowns
- Most receiving touchdowns by a Clemson sophomore: 12 touchdowns (2018)
- 2nd, t-3rd in Clemson history in receiving touchdowns in a season: 13 touchdowns (2019); 12 touchdowns (2018)
- 4th in Clemson history in career yards per reception: 18.1 yards per reception
- T-4th in Clemson history in career 100-yard receiving games: Eight games
- 5th in Clemson history in a receiving yards in a season: 1,167 yards (2019)
- T-7th, 9th in Clemson history in receiving yards in a game: 182 receiving yards (vs. Virginia, 2019); 178 yards (vs. The Citadel, 2017)
- 9th in Clemson history in career receiving yards: 2,448 receiving yards
What were some of Tee Higgins' best games in college?
Here are some of Higgins' most notable performances in college:
Clemson 61, The Citadel 3 | Nov. 18, 2017
Higgins played in 13 of Clemson's 14 games as a freshman, but he only logged a reception in seven games, while wide receivers Hunter Renfrow (60 receptions), Deon Cain (58) and Ray-Ray McLoud (49) were the team's primary receiving threats. Through the Tigers' first 10 games, Higgins had just eight catches for 83 yards; as a junior he would later average nearly that many yards per game.
But against The Citadel, in Clemson's 11th game of the 2017 season, Higgins had a breakout performance that earned him Offensive Player of the Game honors after he caught six passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Ironically, given the blowout, neither touchdown pass was thrown by then-starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, but rather second-string quarterback Zerrick Cooper and third-stringer Hunter Johnson, who delivered the pass on a 78-yard catch and run.
Clemson 28, Texas A&M 26 | Sept. 8, 2018
In an early non-conference test for No. 2 Clemson, the Tigers went on the road to College Station, Texas, and pulled out a two-point road win, in large part because of a 64-yard touchdown connection from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to Higgins early in the second quarter, which put Clemson ahead 14-3.
Higgins caught just three passes but he finished with 123 yards — a 41 yards-per-reception average — and a score. After the performance, he was named the ACC Receiver of the Week.
Clemson 41, NC State 7 | Oct. 20, 2018
In a home game against NC State of his sophomore year, Higgins set a then-career high with eight receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown, as he scored on a 46-yard pass from Trevor Lawrence in the first quarter. The Tigers dominated the Wolfpack, leading by as many as 31 points before NC State scored. Higgins was named the team's co-offensive player of the week. It was the second game in a four-game stretch in which Higgins reached the end zone each game, becoming the first Clemson receiver to do so since Mike Williams in 2016.
Clemson 44, Alabama 16 (College Football Playoff National Championship) | Jan. 7, 2019
For the second time during his sophomore season, Higgins scored in four consecutive games, except the second four-game stretch included wins over rival South Carolina, Pitt in the ACC Championship Game, Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinals and Alabama in the CFP National Championship.
In Clemson's runaway win over Alabama, Higgins caught three passes for 81 yards and a score. Higgins' 21-yard touchdown reception in third quarter was the final scoring play of the game, as it put the Tigers ahead by their final margin, 44-16, after the PAT.
Clemson 41, Syracuse 6 | Sept. 14, 2019
As a freshman, the only game in which Higgins didn't play was the Tigers' road loss to Syracuse. When Clemson next visited the Carrier Dome, in September 2019, he went off for seven catches for 150 yards, which was ultimately the third-highest total of his career. Clemson dominated Syracuse on the road, winning by 35 points, as Trevor Lawrence threw for 395 yards.
Clemson 62, Virginia 17 (ACC Championship Game) | Dec. 7, 2019
In Higgins' final ACC Championship Game appearance, he had a career day, setting career bests in receptions (nine), receiving yards (182) and receiving touchdowns (three), which earned him MVP honors for the game. The Tigers scored at least 14 points in every quarter as they cracked the 60-point mark and won by 45 points. He scored the first points of the game on a 19-yard touchdown reception, then he scored again in each of the next two quarters. Higgins' three receiving touchdowns in the game tied a program record.
(Photo from The State)
What awards did Tee Higgins win in college?
Here are the awards and honors Higgins received in college:
- 2019 ACC Championship Game Most Valuable Player
- 2019 second-team All-American
- 2019 first-team All-ACC
- 2019 R.F. Poole Award recipient (awarded to the best offensive and defensive players in the South Carolina game)
- ACC Receiver of the Week (Sept. 28, 2019)
- 2018 Pro Football Focus first-team All-ACC
- 2018 ESPN first-team All-ACC
- 2018 second-team All-ACC
- 2018 AP second-team All-ACC
- ACC Receiver of the Week (Nov. 24, 2018)
- Co-Offensive Player of the Game against NC State (Oct. 20, 2018)
- ACC Receiver of the Week (Sept. 8, 2018)
- Offensive Player of the Game against The Citadel (Nov. 18, 2017)
What did people say about Tee Higgins?
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, after Clemson beat The Citadel 61-3 in 2017 (from The Times and Democrat): "Tee Higgins, it was just a matter of time before he did what he did today. He got the second-most yards in freshman history. It took him a while, but definitely proved himself today. It's just a matter of time before he does what you saw today. It was just a matter of time before he settled in and did what you all saw today."
The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, after Clemson beat The Citadel: "Top-ranked Clemson has become somewhat 'Wideout U' the past few seasons with receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, Deon Cain. ... And now, quite possibly, Tee Higgins, a freshman who accounted for 178 receiving yards in six catches against The Citadel two weeks ago."
The AP's Pete Iacobelli, after Clemson rallied to beat Syracuse in 2018: "Things looked bleak for the Tigers when Eric Dungey's second 1-yard rushing TD put Syracuse up 23-13 with less than 13 minutes left. That's when Clemson put together a pair of touchdown drives to stay unbeaten and avoid a second straight season of being upset by Syracuse. Etienne answered Dungey's score less than two minutes later with a 26-yard run that cut it to 23-20. Five minutes later, Clemson embarked on what might turn out to be the season's defining drive. 'I think I'll remember that forever,' co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. That was apparent. Brice, a redshirt freshman with eight career passes before Saturday, completed a 20-yard pass to Tee Higgins on fourth-and-6 to keep the drive going. Brice ran for 17 yards to get the Tigers inside the 20. And Etienne carried it across the goal line to send Memorial Stadium into a frenzy."
Then-Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, on Clemson's game-winning drive against Syracuse in 2018 (from The Times and Democrat): "I'll always remember as long as Chase (Brice) is here fourth-and-6 with the game on the line. To be able to stand in there, that window was about 3 feet wide, and he threaded the needle to Tee Higgins or we don't win the game."
Then-Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, in September 2018 (from The State): "When you're explosive down the field now they're going to have to respect Tee Higgins. I think there was some unknown last year, and obviously we took some shots down the field and we didn't connect at as high of a rate last year."
Swinney, after Clemson beat Texas A&M in 2018 (from The State): "Tee's a handful. He's a guy now that as a sophomore is kind of coming into his own with confidence."
The AP's Stephen Hawkins, on Clemson's Cotton Bowl win over Notre Dame: "(Trevor) Lawrence threw two TD passes in the final 1:44 of the first half, including a 19-yarder to Tee Higgins, who made an impressive one-handed grab in the back of the end zone with two seconds left after the deflection by (Donte) Vaughn with his back to the ball."
The State, in 2019: "When in doubt, throw it to Tee Higgins: Clemson's star receiver caught six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown, further cementing his place as Lawrence's go-to receiver. Justyn Ross received a lot of praise going into the year, but Higgins has been far-and-away Clemson's best receiver through five games."
The Times and Democrat's Zach Lentz, in November 2019: "If there is one thing that the 52-3 domination of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons should tell future opponents, it's that a quiet Tee Higgins is a bad Tee Higgins. Bad for the opposing team that is. Before the Wake game, Higgins was not his normal self and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was worried about him. But the people who should have been worried about Higgins were those on Wake Forest's defense."
Elliott, after Clemson beat Wake Forest in 2019 (from The Times and Democrat): "He's a guy that has had a lot of success, but he understands for this team to accomplish what it's set out to do and for him individually to accomplish what he's set out to do, he has to have a certain level of focus and intensity."
Scott (from The Times and Democrat): "I want Tee Higgins to be the best version of Tee Higgins, I don't want Tee Higgins to try and be DeAndre Hopkins or Mike Williams. I want him to worry about being the best version of himself. But within that, I am also always sharing the characteristics of the best of the best that have come through. And with us playing wide receivers, one of those is the guy that physically, mentally, can go and play."
Swinney, after Higgins had 182 receiving yards and three touchdowns against Virginia in the 2019 ACC Championship Game (from The Times and Democrat): "So just an incredible, special group of young people, and then this guy right here, we've had a lot of great wideouts come in here, and I think he had nine (catches) for 182 (yards), and the record, career-record 27 touchdowns in his career, and that ties (Hopkins) and Sammy (Watkins). Those guys were pretty good, so just pretty amazing."
Tee Higgins quotes
Higgins, after exploding for 178 receiving yards as a freshman against The Citadel (from The Greenville News): "I just needed that one game to get my feet wet."
Higgins, continued: "My confidence went up. I'm ready for anything now."
Higgins, on his touchdown reception against The Citadel that was thrown by third-string quarterback Hunter Johnson: "I told Hunter to just throw it deep and I'd run under it. I just put my hand out and I was like, 'Oh my god, I caught the ball.' Then I just ran with it."