Clemson struggled to flip the field via the punt last season but had the talent on defense to carry an extra load with a short field. This season, a younger Tiger defense may need some help from the punters.
Junior Will Spiers averaged 39.7 yards per punt last season, which ranked 88 in the FBS for average yards per punt. In fall camp, Spiers faced challenges from senior Steven Sawicki and freshman Aidan Swanson to take his place at punter.
Throughout fall camp Spiers has been pushed by his competitors after finishing the spring on top of the depth chart. With just 10 days remaining before the Tigers take the field on Aug. 29 against Georgia Tech, the competition is heating up.
“We have a good competition with Spiers, Sawicki and Swanson punting, all three of them and we will make a decision in the next couple of days,” special teams coach Danny Pearman told the media at Jervey Meadows Monday. “All those guys are interchangeable.”
Spiers has had his ups and downs throughout camp and nobody has a significant jump in the punting battle with just a few days of fall camp remaining.
“Will Spiers has been okay, Aidan Swanson has pushed, Steven Sawicki pushed and it’s a three-way competition,” Pearman said. “Some days (Spiers) is the victor and some days he has been beaten out, it’s a good healthy competition there.”
According to Pearman there is a big chance fans could see multiple punters trot onto the field in Clemson’s opener with the Yellow Jackets.
Concerning the development of the freshman punter throughout camp, Swanson is coming along but needs live reps to see how he handles the pressure of flipping the field in a live game. Pearman used the analogy that punting in practice versus a game is the difference between Top Golf and playing 18 holes of real golf.
“Swanson has to get some experience and he won’t get that until he comes in, he needs to build his confidence,” Pearman said.
Unless Pearman gives another update before Aug. 29, expect to see multiple punters when the Tigers kick off at Memorial Stadium at 8 p.m.
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