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Clemson running back draws comparison to Christian McCaffrey

James Fletcher IIIby:James Fletcher III09/04/21


There are big shoes to fill in the Clemson backfield with the departure of two-time All-American running back Travis Etienne.

Now, Tigers freshman tailback Will Shipley has more big shoes to fit into thanks to ESPN’s College Gameday Crew. On Saturday’s college football preview show, analyst and former Georgia linebacker David Pollack compared North Carolina native Will Shipley to Panthers star Christian McCaffrey.

“I’m interested to see Will Shipley,” Pollack said on College Gameday. “He’s going to be Christian McCaffrey 2.0.”

McCaffrey was a star in college, the Stanford running back was named AP Player of the Year in 2015 and finished second in Heisman voting to Derrick Henry.

The consensus All-American racked up 6,987 all-purpose yards in three seasons before going No. 8 overall in the NFL Draft.

“He’s got that ability to be that kind of guy,” said Pollack.

McCaffrey has also translated that college stardom into NFL success so far in his career. The 25-year-old running back has 6,037 all-purpose yards with 45 touchdowns in four seasons, missing most of 2020 with an injury.

More praise for Will Shipley

The freshman running back worked his way into the rotation at running back and could see several reps in the backfield this season. Will Shipley is also set to return punts and kicks for Clemson, like Christian McCaffrey once did for Stanford.

Shipley was considered the top all-purpose back in the 2021 class coming out of high school. He was unable to play as a senior due to COVID-19. As a junior, he won Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina and led his team to a 16-0 record and the state 3A title. In three years of high school, Shipley rushed for 4,173 yards on 503 carries, had 1,411 receiving yards on 84 catches and scored 80 touchdowns.

“What I love about Shipley, he’s confident in who he is,” Elliot said during a recent media availability. “That’s what we appreciate about him, the reason he is where he is, who he is, is because he’s confident in who he is and he’s not ashamed of it. He believes in what he stands on and he stands on it every single day.”

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman also loves Shipley’s upside as a rusher in Clemson’s offense. He shared what he has heard about the running back during the preseason last month.

“I talked to one Clemson coach yesterday and asked him how Will Shipley was doing,” Feldman said on the Fox Big Noon Kickoff preview show. “This is a guy who was a state sprint champ. Really tremendous speed, great hands. But the thing that the coach told me yesterday was that they have been pleasantly surprised with how physical Will Shipley has been running between the tackles.”