Clemson Football: New Leadership, Familiar and New Faces, New Opportunities

Last December was literally one to remember.

Staff departures, shuffling of coaches and a few new faces in new places. Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed assumed several new hats during that time. They’re all orange, all emblazoned with the Paw.

When all the dust settled, a different staff emerged. Several coaches had new hats to wear, so to speak, and few added more than Reed. As the new assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, far from being overwhelmed, he was and still is excited for this opportunity.

Special teams rarely, if ever, gets much attention. Until a kick is missed, a punt is a dud, or a muffed return, then, all eyes turn towards the group and for all the wrong reasons.

In their world, you’re only as good as your last punt, snap, or hold, so the pressure to not only succeed but excel is palpable. Kicking is a game within in a game, it’s mental. I guess, that’s why it’s often said the loneliest person on the sideline is the placekicker. They’re in their own, separate universe.

Six year super senior, Will Spiers, has moved on but veteran kicker, BT Potter decided to stay for one last go around. The holder and long snapper has moved on as well. Return men, Will Shipley and Will Taylor, return after postseason surgeries. There are many great pieces in place and a few ones that are up for grabs.

Potter is definitely handling the field goal and kick-off duties and who knows, possibly the punting duties too? Dabo Swinney, when asked during spring practice if Potter could do all three, responded the he wasn’t opposed to that possibility but we’d need to wait and see.

Freshman Jonathan Weitz, who had a stellar spring game and Robert Gunn III, returning from a high school injury could be available as well. As for the punters, eyes are on both Aiden Swanson, who can, like Potter do double duty and freshman, Jack Smith.

Following in his brother Will’s cleats, Drew Swinney will likely be the holder. Coming out of spring, the long snapper duties are still undetermined. It appears, sophomore, Phillip Florenzo and freshman, Holden Caspersen are two of the main contenders. Reed has a good solid group of returnees and newcomers.

If there was ever a season that showcased the need for strong special teams play, it would be 2021. Without the defense and the leg of Potter last season, as the offense struggled, things could have been disastrous.

With experience and talent, Reed knows his 2022 group is poised and ready to emphasize the special in special teams.

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