Most of the players that Clemson signed in December have already arrived on campus to start their college careers.
Of the 19 players the Tigers inked during the early signing period, a dozen of them enrolled early on Jan. 3, giving themselves the opportunity to participate in spring practice and a better chance to make an immediate impact in the fall by getting ahead of the game.
In our Impact Freshmen series detailing Clemson’s midyear enrollees, The Clemson Insider takes an in-depth look at running back Will Shipley:
Hometown (High School): Weddington, North Carolina (Weddington)
Height, Weight: 5-11, 200
Prospect ratings/rankings: 5-star, No. 1 APB, No. 1 state, No. 30 national (247Sports Composite); 4-star, No. 2 RB, No. 2 state, No. 21 national (ESPN); 4-star, No. 1 APB, No. 1 state, No. 45 national (Rivals); 4-star, No. 1 APB, No. 3 state, No. 52 national (247Sports)
High school stats/accolades: Invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Game … Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina and Charlotte Observer Player of the Year for 2019 … MVP of the 2019 state championship game when he rushed for 256 yards and scored four touchdowns in a win over Lee County for his program’s second straight state title … 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 … had 1,411 receiving yards on 84 catches for a 16.8-yard average … scored 80 touchdowns in his career — 55 rushing, 23 receiving and two on defense … had an incredible 2019 season when he had 2,066 yards rushing on just 188 carries (11.0 yards per rush) and scored 31 rushing touchdowns … also had 34 catches for 582 yards and nine receiving touchdowns in 2019 … had 42 touchdowns that year, including 31 rushing, nine receiving and two on defense … as a sophomore in 2018, posted 1,417 yards rushing on 206 carries and scored 19 touchdowns … added 31 catches for 406 yards and six receiving touchdowns … added 49 tackles and two interceptions on defense … as a freshman, had 84 tackles and two interceptions … contributed 690 rushing yard and five rushing touchdowns on 109 carries, as well as 19 catches for 423 yards and eight receiving touchdowns, in his freshman campaign
Strengths: Shipley has drawn comparisons to Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey, whom Shipley admires and models his game after.
Truly a complete, all-purpose back, Shipley is a threat out of the backfield catching passes in addition to the weapon he is in the run game. Shipley looks like a power back at 5-foot-11 and around 200 pounds, but also has top-end speed — as evidenced by his sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash time — and can not only run by defenders but has the physicality and toughness to run through tackles as well. He is adept at using his excellent vision to follow blocks and find running room.
Highly productive, Shipley was named the 2019 N.C. Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year after rushing for 1,639 yards and 25 touchdowns, to go with 509 receiving yards and nine more scores through the air, while leading his team to a 16-0 record and the Class 3AA state title.
How he fits in: Shipley and fellow Clemson 2021 running back signee Phil Mafah join a talented running back room that includes Lyn-J Dixon, Chez Mellusi, Michel Dukes and Kobe Pace. There figures to be plenty of competition in spring practice and fall camp for the starting running back job, which appears to be up for grabs with Travis Etienne headed to the NFL. Shipley has his sights set on contributing right away as a true freshman, and it certainly looks like he will have a good shot to do so with his all-around skill set and relentless work ethic.
Coach speak: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on Shipley – “A lot of people have him listed as the top all-purpose back in the country, and that’s what he is – he’s all-purpose. He’s dynamic. He can do it all. He can catch the football, he can come out of the backfield, you can put him in the slot, he can return kicks, he can run between the tackles. He can do it all, and I think going to be a great player for us here at Clemson.”
Clemson offensive coordinator/running backs coach Tony Elliott on Shipley – “He has the complete skill set. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and run between the tackles, which sometimes you don’t see coming out of high school. You go back to Wayne Gallman, you had to develop Wayne as a pass catcher. You had to develop Travis as a pass catcher. But Will has the complete skill set, and he has the size, which is a unique combination when you talk about a guy that’s going to be very fast, 210, 215 pounds and you can play him in the slot. He just has a unique skill set.”