Asked after Thursday’s practice if there are any players that definitely will not redshirt this season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney joked it’s safe to assume touted freshman running back Will Shipley is one of those.
“He’s probably a good assumption,” Swinney said. “He’s a definite guy, I don’t think there’s a big secret there.”
As for some other players, Clemson’s staff is still in the process of deciding whether or not they plan to redshirt them this year.
The good news for the Tigers is they have time to make those final decisions, thanks to the redshirt rule that was passed by the NCAA a few years ago allowing players to compete in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility. Previously, the NCAA considered a redshirt burned if a player participated in any live game action.
“There’s a few that are on the bubble, and we’ve had that over the years,” Swinney said. “The good thing is, we get four games, so we don’t really have to make a decision fully on anybody. And that’s really one of the best rule changes ever because it really keeps guys engaged, and they have to be ready. So, it just helps a ton when guys know that hey, they’re all going to have an opportunity to play hopefully at some point.”
Swinney pointed out that a lot can happen between now and four games into the season, citing defensive end K.J. Henry as an example.
Henry played 39 total snaps in four games during his first year at Clemson in 2018 before approaching Swinney and letting him know that he wanted to redshirt, as he felt he wasn’t fully ready to contribute and would benefit from a redshirt year.
“We’ve had years where there were some guys that we thought we would redshirt and they played,” Swinney said. “And we’ve had some years like K.J., we thought he was going to play all year, and then he kind of redshirted himself after four games. So, we just kind of play all that by ear. But there’s some obvious guys that you know are going to help us right out of the gate. But even if some of those guys … anything can happen. Somebody gets hurt, there’s a lot of things that can happen before they get that four-game mark.”
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