Andrew Mukuba continues to impress on the back end of Clemson’s defense.
“He’s a guy that you just notice all the time,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
It’s been that way for Swinney and his defensive coaches ever since January. That’s when Mukuba arrived on campus as an early enrollee after signing with the Tigers as a four-star prospect out of Early College High in Austin, Texas.
Mukuba is listed as a safety on Clemson’s roster, but the 6-foot, 185-pounder has been cross-training at multiple positions ever since the spring. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Mukuba is versatile enough to play nickel or even corner if needed.
Mukuba missed the Tigers’ spring game after breaking a bone in his arm, but he entered fall camp with a clean bill of health. And during Clemson’s first scrimmage Saturday, there Mukuba was flashing his playmaking ability once again, Swinney said.
Exactly where Mukuba got the majority of his reps isn’t clear. Swinney said a handful of players were held out because of injuries, though he didn’t specify whether one of them was safety Nolan Turner, who was in street clothes and doing light exercises on the side with other injured players during Thursday’s practice — the last one open to the media for viewing.
But Mukuba is one of a few players who will be ready to play wherever they’re needed in the secondary once the games start Sept. 4 with Clemson’s opener against Georgia. Malcolm Green is also repping at safety and corner during camp while Venables’ son, Tyler Venables, is working at safety and nickel.
Like any freshman, Mukuba is far from a finished product. But the newcomer has already flashed enough potential in his game to put himself in position to be an immediate contributor this fall.
“He’s got great anticipation and instincts,” Brent Venables said. “He transitional movement was excellent. He’s got really good closing speed and makes a lot of plays on the football. Very rarely is he out of position. He’s got plenty of things he’s got to get better at, but playing both outside and inside, I’ve been super pleased with where he’s at, especially mentally as far as what he’s seeing.”