When Will Shipley signed on the dotted line with Clemson on Wednesday, the five-star all-purpose back realized his lifelong dream of joining a big-time college football program.
Shipley, a native of Weddington, North Carolina, is one of the headliners of the 18-man signing class that the Tigers inked on Wednesday at the outset of the early signing period.
“It’s awesome. I’m psyched,” Shipley told The Clemson Insider after signing. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since a very young age. So, to be able to finally put pen to paper and make it official, it’s surreal. I can’t wait to get on campus, become a part of the family for real and just start working with the guys.”
Signing day was everything Shipley, a top-50 national prospect per multiple recruiting services, expected it to be – and even more so.
“That and more,” he said. “Clemson did such a great job with everything. They made us feel like we’re on top of the mountain. They put us at the top of the pedestal and gave us the day that we deserved, even with everything going on with COVID and things like that. So, big props to them for making this day as special as it could have been.”
While Shipley enjoyed the signing ceremony that was held for him and some of his teammates at Weddington High School, and did plenty of celebrating with his family, he didn’t use the day’s festivities as an excuse to skip working out.
“We had to send in our National Letter of Intent (Wednesday) morning at 7 a.m. to Clemson, so it was an early morning. Then I went and got a workout in at 8 o’clock right after with a bunch of my boys, and then had an actual signing day at school at 3:30,” Shipley said. “We did that with eight other guys from Weddington. It was a huge signing class for us, the biggest one we’ve ever had. So, I was very glad to be a part of that, and then me and my family are going out to dinner (Wednesday night). My grandparents actually came down to congratulate me and just be with us. James is home, my brother.
”So, it’s been a great day. My family’s been there for me, congratulating me, making me feel good. It’s been awesome.”
Running backs coach Tony Elliott and other members of the Tigers’ staff reached out to congratulate Shipley on signing and to officially welcome him into the Clemson Family.
“I talked to Coach Elliott, specifically,” Shipley said. “Just talking about normal stuff – him telling me congrats, me telling him how ready I am and him telling me how not far away it is and just enjoy the time with the family while you still have it. So, always wise words of wisdom from Coach Elliott, and it’s just great to be able to get that and also have a great day.”
Shipley believes the sky is the limit for Clemson’s 2021 class, which includes 16 members of the ESPN 300, 15 members of the Rivals 250 and 15 members of the 247Sports Top247.
As of Wednesday night, the Tigers’ class ranked No. 4 according to ESPN, No. 5 according to 247Sports and No. 6 according to Rivals.
“I think the potential for this class is through the roof,” Shipley said. “I don’t think that we can set any sort of precedence. I think that we’re going to go in there with a chip on our shoulder ready to work, ready to compete, ready to make this team the best that it can be. We’re going to be willing to do whatever to get a ring on our finger and at the same time graduate and have a great time with a bunch of great guys.”
Shipley – a three-time all-conference and all-county selection who was also a two-time all-state selection and two-time MaxPreps All-American – rushed for 4,173 yards on 503 carries (8.3 yards per rush) in his three-year high school career at Weddington, while also racking up 1,411 receiving yards on 84 catches for a 16.8-yard average. He scored 80 total touchdowns in his career, including 55 rushing, 23 receiving and two on defense.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound athlete was named Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina and Charlotte Observer Player of the Year for 2019 after leading his team to a 16-0 record and the Class 3A state title. He was MVP of the 2019 state championship game during which he ran for 256 yards and scored four touchdowns in a win over Lee County for his program’s second straight state title.
Shipley, who was invited to play in the 2021 Under Armour All-America Game that has since been cancelled because of COVID-19, was also an outstanding lacrosse player who received college offers for that sport as well. In addition, he won the state championship in 55 meters in the only year he ran indoor track, recording a time of 6.36 in that event.
Despite being highly touted and earning all of the accolades he received in high school, Shipley doesn’t have a better-than-thou attitude, nor does he expect any special treatment when he arrives to Clemson – he simply plans to put his head down, go to work and do whatever is asked of him.
“My mindset going in is to just do the same thing that I’ve been doing,” he said. “Compete, be ready for anything, know that I’m going in there with zero stars, that I’m at the bottom of the totem pole and I’m going to do whatever it takes to gain the respect of my teammates, gain the respect of my coaches and do whatever it is, whether it’s special teams, running back or just whatever to help the team win. I’m willing to sacrifice anything to be that type of player.”
Shipley, who committed to Dabo Swinney’s program on May 5, 2020, is set to enroll early at Clemson on Jan. 3.
“I’m so excited to get on campus,” he said. “It is right around the corner. The date came up a lot faster than I thought it was going to. So, right now I’m just spending as much time with my family as I can while also training and getting ready for it.”
The holiday season has arrived and it is time to get your favorite Tiger what they love. Up to 70 percent off today.
Please stay safe and get your officially licensed Clemson gear right here!