With a year at Clemson now under his belt, freshman offensive lineman Will Putnam knows for a fact he made the right decision when he chose to be a Tiger during the recruiting process.
“It’s definitely been a journey, really starting in winter ball and come spring ball, then all the way here. So, I think it’s been about like 10, 11 months since I’ve been here,” Putnam told The Clemson Insider last month. “I always call it, it’s the shortest yet longest time of my life. It’s been really good, though. It’s been life-changing.”
After signing with Clemson on December 20, 2018, Putnam enrolled at the school last January and earned significant playing time in the fall.
A four-star recruit and national top-120 player coming out of Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, Putnam logged 192 snaps across 11 games prior to bowl season, eventually carving out a role as the Tigers’ backup at right guard midway through the regular season.
“I think it’s really cool,” he said of seeing the field early as a true freshman. “Coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect, so just did my best I can. I ended up fall camp, doing somewhat well. So, I just kind of, when it comes to playing time, just do the best I can during practice and when I get the time to play in a game, then shine.”
Putnam believes he is a better all-around offensive lineman now than when he arrived on campus last year.
“Honestly I think overall, everything’s kind of improved some,” he said. “I’d say definitely just my footwork and run-blocking, that’s definitely improved some. Pass pro has definitely improved some, and I think more so than anything, just my football IQ – really understanding defense, because college is a lot different than high school, of course. We get to go against one of the best defenses in the country every day in practice, and that’s only gotten me better.”
Putnam — also a standout wrestler in high school who was the Florida state champion as a heavyweight in 2018 with a 25-0 record for the season — still weighs about the same as he did upon his arrival to campus, but has seen his numbers in the weight room improve.
“I’m about 6-4, 295 right now,” he said. “I pretty much have been around the same weight, but I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger. All my maxes have gone up. I’ve lost probably about 6 percent body fat. So, I’ve really kind of recompositioned my body and then this offseason, I’ll probably try to take another step, maybe gain another 10, 15 pounds or so.”
One year into his college career, Putnam says Clemson has been everything he expected it to be when he signed with the Tigers over more than two dozen other offers, including finalists Auburn and Florida State.
“Coming into Clemson, I kind of really started looking at them late in my recruiting process, but I’m very satisfied and I’m happy,” he said.
Even though Clemson fell short of winning it all, Putnam was glad to have the opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff and compete for a national title in his first season.
“I think it’s amazing,” he said. “I think it really is amazing because I definitely picked the right school. Because on the field, obviously we’re in the College Football Playoff, it’s a really cool experience … And then off the field, it’s such a great school. So, it’s awesome.”
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