One of the bigger concerns for the Clemson football team coming out of spring practice is depth at cornerback.
The Tigers are extremely thin at the position and as evidenced by having just three scholarship players available at the position during Saturday’s spring game, are just an injury or two away from having a major issue on their hands.
True freshman Nathaniel Wiggins certainly looked the part on Saturday, but there’s another player on the roster who could possibly slide over and play some corner if needed. True freshman Andrew Mukuba didn’t play in the annual scrimmage this weekend, but before inuring his arm late in the spring, the four-star safety from Austin, Texas had been taking some reps at corner.
During the Tigers’ spring game on Saturday, head coach Dabo Swinney raved about the young players progress this spring. While talking to ACC Network analyst Eric MacLain during the telecast, Swinney said Mukuba is a player the coaching staff thinks will help the the team in 2021.
“He showed this spring that he’s a guy that can help us,” Swinney said. “He is as skilled a DB as we’ve brought in here. 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.”
The praise for Mukuba did not stop there. Swinney went on to compare the young player to one of the more versatile defensive backs to have played for the current Clemson head coach.
“He’s a lot like Marcus Gilchrist, a kid we had earlier in my career here,” Swinney said. “He can really do a little bit of everything.”
Mukuba’s journey to Clemson was an unusual one. The entire process was done virtually.
The year-long dead period has kept high school prospects from having any face-to-face contact with coaches and schools have not been allowed to host official visits since March of 2020. With Mukuba being from Texas, he had never been to Clemson, much less met Swinney in person.
While Mukuba was always intent on wanting to play at Clemson, due to the circumstances and in fairness to the player, Swinney insisted he hold off on his commitment. In the end, however, Clemson got their man and Mukuba is where he always wanted to be.
“I was concerned, he hadn’t ever been to Clemson,” Swinney said. “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.”