Among the early enrollees in Clemson’s 2021 signing class set to move in on campus today is Will Shipley, a five-star running back from Weddington High School in Matthews, N.C.
Shipley spoke with The Clemson Insider before heading to Tigertown this morning and was stoked to get on campus to start his college career.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “This is a dream come true. I can’t wait. I’m still saying some goodbyes, making my rounds, but I can’t wait. It’s going to be a different journey, but I’m a hundred-percent ready for it.”
Shipley said his mom, dad and brother were accompanying him for the move-in day, which he expected to be a bittersweet day for his parents as they sent him off and parted ways.
“It’s definitely sweet and sour,” he said. “They’re happy that I’m leaving, happy I’m going, really excited for my opportunity there. But my parents are finally empty-nested. I think my brother, on the other hand, is just really happy for me, can’t wait to see what I’m going to do, what I’m going to accomplish. Not that my parents aren’t the exact same way, but it will just be different getting used to not having anybody at home and things of that nature.”
“They’ll have a lot more time on their hands,” he added, laughing.
Shipley will be roommates with his friend and fellow running back signee, Phil Mafah of Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga.
“Our relationship is great,” Shipley said. “I met him two years ago at my very first (Dabo) Swinney Camp. He’s a quiet guy so I’ve got to figure out a way to get him out of his shell, which I’m sure I’ll be able to do (laughing). But I’m really excited. We’ve been talking ever since I committed in May about how pumped we are to just go in there, do our thing, have a chip on our shoulder and try to make Clemson University a national championship team for next year.”
Shipley – the top-ranked all-purpose back in the country for the 2021 class – knows the Tigers have no shortage of talent at running back but nonetheless hopes to make a name for himself right away in his first year in the program.
“That’s a big thing for me is I’m going in there and I’m trying to make my name known right off the bat,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose Clemson University – I think they give freshmen the ability to get on the field. They’re going to play the best player, and it’s a loaded running back room. You’ve got some dudes in there. But I know that they’re going to make me better every single day, and in return, I’m going to do everything to make them better – pick up the terminology quick, get acclimated, make sure I’m balancing my time right. I believe if I do that, then I have a good chance to get on the field.”
During his career at Weddington, Shipley rushed for 4,173 yards on 503 carries (8.3 yards per rush) and racked up 1,411 receiving yards on 84 catches (16.8-yard average).
Despite not being able to play his senior season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shipley still totaled 80 touchdowns in his high school career, including 55 rushing, 23 receiving and two on defense.
Looking ahead to his freshman season in 2021, Shipley simply wants to do whatever is asked of him for the betterment of the team.
“My goals going into next year are to, first of all, help the team in any way that I can, whether it’s special teams, scout team – I don’t care,” he said. “I want to play my role, do my part. That’s my very first goal going in. And then obviously, on the other hand, I want to get on the field. I want to make an impact. Even as a freshman, I want people to be able to say, ‘We want the ball in his hands.’ That’s a big thing that I take pride in and something that I see myself doing. I’m very competitive, so I’m going to set my goals really high whether or not I reach them and shoot for the stars.”
Although Clemson’s 2020 season ended in disappointing fashion with Friday’s 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl, Shipley still sees a very bright future ahead for the Tigers and believes they will continue adding to their trophy case during his three- or four-year college career.
“It was a tough game,” Shipley said of the Sugar Bowl. “Ohio State played one heck of a game. Justin Fields, I mean, he proved everybody wrong that was doubting him, and I think it hurt having Coach (Tony) Elliott out of there. But no excuses, Ohio State just played a solid game.
“But I see us winning three national championships in the next three years. And then if there’s a fourth year, I think we win one then, too. We’re going to be national championship contenders every single year. We’re the six-time ACC Champions, and I think we’re going to be 10 by the time I’m out of there. I 100-percent see that, and if we go in there, we do our thing and we compete, we’ll have a couple rings on our finger when we’re leaving.”