In the last seven seasons Clemson has had two different leading rushers, Travis Etienne and Wayne Gallman.
As the Tigers prepare to enter fall camp in a couple of weeks, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory without a leading candidate who has emerged as the starting running back.
Running backs coach C.J. Spiller beat around the bush when asked about a pecking order at the Clemson Football Media Day on Tuesday.
But Spiller doesn’t feel like his unit necessarily needs an alpha dog in order to be successful when the season kicks off.
“As far as having that one lead dog I don’t think we need that because it will take a collective effort from everybody,” Spiller said. “In years past you always had Travis but as a running back it is going to take multiple guys for us to be successful.”
Clemson does not lack talent in the running back room with Kobe Pace, Lyn-J Dixon, Phil Mafah and Will Shipley all vying for carries. In Spiller’s assessment all four tailbacks and Darien Rencher are needed for the group to maintain the high standard for the Tigers.
“You have to make sure everybody in your room is prepared because if somebody goes down that doesn’t mean the standard goes down, the standard won’t go down and it will be set at a high level,” Spiller said. “Guys that came through here like Terry Allen, James Davis, Wayne Gallman, Andre Ellington, Reggie Merriweather set that standard.”
Pace showed out in the Orange and White game this spring as he led both squads in rushing with six carries for 64 yards and a touchdown and impressed the coaching staff throughout spring practice. Dixon asserted himself as the No. 2 while Etienne toted the rock and brings experience to the unit as a senior.
The freshmen Mafah and Shipley will also compete for carries immediately during fall camp. Shipley enters with high expectations as a five-star talent that was rated as the No. 1 all-purpose back by some services with his speed and knack for winning games. Mafah brings a unique mix of speed and power that he showed in the spring.
“As far as ball carrying yes because you never know what is going to happen in the game,” Spiller said. “There is a high standard in our room so it doesn’t matter who runs out there those guys on the sideline watching you will expect you to get the job done.”