And it’s not only Cline’s quarterback that is taking a liking to his abilities.
“He’s athletic,” Beamer said, listing Cline’s most attractive on-field qualities. “Number two, he’s smart. We threw him out there last week. Offensively we move around a lot — shift, motion — a lot of stuff going on, and he didn’t miss much.”
Unfortunately, his biggest play on Saturday was the one he didn’t make.
On a first and 10 in the fourth quarter, Cline stood alone in the end zone, facing Thomas, who was releasing what would be Cline's first collegiate touchdown reception.
“I was happy,” Cline said. “I was like ‘Oh, here it comes. First touchdown. First game.’”
It was then when the same ailment that had infected many Tech receivers a week ago in Georgia got to Cline: the drops. The ball bounced off his No. 93 jersey and dropped to the turf.
“Sometimes you get a little too excited,” he said. “I saw a defender coming this way, little distractions. That was just a rookie mistake and it won’t happen again.”
A play like that, however embarrassing, couldn’t have come at a better time for him. With the game already in hand, the moment turned into a motivator for the young freshman.
“I’m going to make sure to get back out there and nothing, nothing touches the ground. At all.”
Even after his breakout game, Cline — who caught 19 passes for 411 yards his senior year in high school — remains second on the depth chart, behind Duan Perez-Means. The former basketball star is a better pass catcher than Perez-Means, and therefore will be a more prominent name in the box scores moving forward.
According to Stinespring, Cline is “closer to the mold of Ryan,” so it only makes sense that the former tight end has taken the current one under his wing.
“Malleck, with his injury, he’s kind of putting his knowledge on me with the playbook and everything,” Cline said. “He knows my athleticism and I’m able to fill that role. Lot of routes running, that’s kind of the offense I came from in high school, and transitioning from basketball I have a lot of speed and quickness and it kind of translates over perfectly for this offense.”
Now, while he is building muscle and learning the rest of the playbook, Cline is helping the team any way he can.
“I come in, if they need me to block, if they need me to run routes, I do what they tell me and just try and make the most out of my reps.”