- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. — Mike Williams took a few steps backward after the final snap, flopped to the ground and waited for the confetti to start falling.

It was his least acrobatic move of the night.

Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Jordan Leggett were every bit as integral to Clemson’s first national championship since 1981 as quarterback and offensive MVP Deshaun Watson.

Watson’s trio of dynamic receivers made big play after big play, clutch catch after clutch catch, and helped the Tigers upset Alabama 35-31 in the title game Monday night.

“This is what it’s all about right here, boys,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

Williams, Renfrow and Leggett redefined Clemsoning, the disparaging term used in recent years to describe the Tigers inexplicably delivering disappointing performances. The phrase might as well be buried at Raymond James Stadium.


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The trio of receivers should get the honor of throwing on the last few shovels of dirt.

Renfrow caught the game-winner, a 2-yard reception with 1 second left that started a celebration that was a year in the making. He finished with 10 catches for 92 yards and two scores, adding to his legacy against the Tide.

Renfrow had seven catches for 88 yards and two scores in Clemson’s 45-40 loss to Alabama in last year’s title game in Arizona.

Williams and Leggett were just as good in the sequel.

The NFL-bound Williams, widely expected to be the first receiver selected in the draft, made two leaping catches in the final two touchdown drives. He had a 26-yarder in front of Marlon Humphrey and then a 24-yarder against fellow cornerback Anthony Averett on the final drive. He also drew a pass interference penalty in the final seconds that set up Renfrow’s go-ahead TD catch.

Leggett may have had the play of the game, though. His diving reception on the final drive put Clemson on the 9-yard line with 14 seconds remaining. Without it, the game could have gone to overtime.

The three receivers torched Alabama’s vaunted defense in the second half, most of them on the receiving end of Watson’s 420 yards passing.

Williams caught eight passes for 94 yards. Leggett had seven receptions for 95 yards.

“I think they made some fantastic catches and some great throws and catches,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “And the last couple drives when they had the ball, we just didn’t make a play when we needed to. We needed to get a sack. We needed to get a takeaway. We needed to get a stop in the red zone, and they made the plays and we didn’t.”

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