Elliott: Wicks 'talented enough' to enter elite company
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Tony Elliott played wide receiver at Clemson, coached the position at two different stops and had a front row seat for an elite group with the Tigers for the past decade, so his words on Virginia's Dontayvion Wicks carry a lot of weight.
"He's as good as the guys that I've been around for the last 11 years from a talent standpoint," Elliott said after the UVA Blue-White game, "I mean he can do it all, he's got the speed, he's got the short area quickness, he's got the natural hands."
At Clemson, Elliott saw the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Tee Higgins come through his offense with many other All-ACC honorees. Wicks is coming off a first team All-ACC year in his first full season with the Cavaliers, so Elliott's message to him this spring might surprise some.
"Let last year go because it's a new year and we got to do the same thing this year or do better this year, so he's just staying on us every day," Wicks said.
Wicks broke Herman Moore's 32-year-old school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,203 and finished with 21.1 yards per reception, which led the ACC and ranked fifth in the nation. The junior also had a team-high nine touchdown catches, including a few highlight reel grabs like his bobbling catch at Miami.
Throughout his first spring with UVA, Elliott's presence could constantly be felt around the wide receivers, a group which returns three All-ACC players and a host of other potential contributors led by associate head coach Marques Hagans.
"If you just look at practice he's at the receivers most of the time just because I know that he feels like we're the best group on the team and he's trying to make us better," Wicks said.
Elliott has challenged the receivers to lead the way as the most talented group on the team, especially Wicks.
"He was a guy that was one foot in the water because he had success," Elliott said, "For me, my coaching style is I'm going at the best one and I'm coaching the best one harder than anybody else. At first there was a little bit of resistance, but I'm proud of how he's responded and I've seen that every area of his life has improved."
Wicks has made adjustments on and off the field this spring with Elliott praising his work in the classroom on top of the strides he has made as a leader. Next for Wicks is spending offseason with quarterback Brennan Armstrong to work on their timing and routes.
"I think he still has another step that he can take because he has a chance to be as good as the ones that I've been around for the last 11 years from a talent standpoint," Elliott said, "But he's got to make that commitment that he wants to be the best at everything he does every single time he steps on the field."