Swinney has extremely high praise for freshman

Swinney has extremely high praise for freshman

Football

Swinney has extremely high praise for freshman

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Andrew Mukuba generated a lot of buzz this spring as one of Clemson’s standout freshmen, though the versatile defensive back did not play in Saturday’s Orange & White Game after suffering an arm injury last week.

However, Mukuba’s absence from the action didn’t stop Dabo Swinney from singing his praises during the ACC Network’s broadcast of the spring game.

“He is as skilled a DB as we’ve brought in here,” Clemson’s head coach said while speaking with former Tiger offensive lineman and current ACCN analyst Eric Mac Lain. “This kid is dynamic. He can play either safety. He can play nickel, he can play dime, he can play corner if you needed it. Great special teams guy. Great ball skills, and one of the best kids you’ll ever meet. He is about his business in everything he does. He’s truly committed to excellence, and I’m just super, super proud of what he was able to accomplish this spring.”

Mukuba broke a bone in his arm last Monday but is expected to be good to go come the fall, and Swinney believes the former four-star prospect can make an instant impact for the Tigers in the secondary this season.

“He showed this spring that he’s a guy that can help us,” Swinney said.

Swinney is sure glad to have Mukuba on his roster but admits there was some uncertainty with him during the recruiting process, as the Austin, Texas, native never had the chance to visit Clemson due to the NCAA dead period that was imposed last spring because of COVID-19.

Mukuba knew he wanted to be a Tiger and tried to commit prior to last season, but Swinney didn’t accept his commitment at the time because he had never been able to meet him in person.

Eventually, though – when he learned the dead period would be further extended and the ban on in-person recruiting would continue until at least this spring – Swinney decided to take Mukuba’s commitment last October knowing he was planning to enroll early in January.

“Man, I’m going to tell you what, he is an unbelievable kid,” Swinney said. “First of all, when I think about Andrew Mukuba, I just think about God’s favor. Because he’s the first recruit I’ve ever signed, never met until he showed up here, thanks to the pandemic.

“I was concerned. He hadn’t ever been to Clemson. I had never met him, never even been to his campus. And he wanted to commit early. Wanted to commit like last August, and I wouldn’t let him because I kept thinking maybe they’d open it up, and I just didn’t think it was fair to him. And then when they said they’re not going to open it back up, and he’s coming to be a midyear, I let him go ahead and commit.”

Mukuba, who played on both sides of the ball at LBJ Early College High School (Austin, Texas), won District Offensive Player of the Year as a senior after recording 27 receptions for 427 yards and six touchdowns to go with 20 carries for 173 yards and two more scores. Defensively, he tallied 60 tackles, six interceptions and four caused fumbles.

Swinney compared Mukuba to one of his former defensive backs, Marcus Gilchrist, who played for Clemson from 2007-10 before being selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the then-San Diego Chargers.

Gilchrist has spent the last 10 seasons playing in the NFL with the Chargers, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens.

“He’s a lot like Marcus Gilchrist, a kid we had earlier in my career here,” Swinney said of Mukuba. “He can really do a little bit of everything.”

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