Clemson has a lot of production to replace at the running back position.
With the ACC’s all-time leading rusher off to the NFL, the Tigers lose one of the nation’s best players at the position.
Clemson does have a deep stable of backs, though, led by senior Lyn-J Dixon, who has patiently waited his turn behind Etienne. Behind DIxon, there is sophomore Kobe Pace and two extremely talented true freshman in Will Shipley and Phil Mafah.
Former Clemson offensive lineman and current ACC Network analyst Eric Mac Lain said on the ACC Kickoff telecast that he thinks one of those freshman has shot at being heavily involved in the offense in 2021.
“Freshmen here now, they come up and they want to be at the front of the line,” Mac Lain said. “These guys want to play, and we might see that early and often by a guy, Will Shipley, the running back who is kind of a Mr. Do It All. He’s a very interesting prospect, a guy that coming in had so much hype. And then you talk to offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, he is as advertised, he is better than advertised.”
As Mac Lain noted, Shipley, a former 5-star prospect, is a guy the Tigers will be able use in a number of different ways.
“I think he could be that guy that slides out and even be at a slot, be back at the running back position to be a receiver,” Mac Lain said. “He’s that good of a weapon.”
While it has been widely assumed that Lyn-J Dixon will get first crack at being the lead back, Mac Lain wonders whether the rising senior can hold off the upstart freshman for the entire season.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see, what does Clemson decide to do at the running back position,” Mac Lain said. “We’ve seen it with quarterback. We saw it with Kelly Bryant being the starter, Trevor Lawrence coming in. Two years before that, we saw a senior at quarterback, Deshaun Watson, slowly but surely takes it over. Now Lyn-J Dixon is going to be the guy to start, but is it Will Shipley’s show by the end of the year?”
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