The teammate who unapologetically started a Nike Air Monarch shoe trend inside the Clemson facility, January enrollee, and Matthews, N.C. native Will Shipley has left a lasting impression in almost no time with players and staff.
"Yeah, he's not like a typical freshman; I mean, it's pretty easy to see," head coach Dabo Swinney said to start fall practice. "First of all, he came in January, so he's gonna be ahead anyway but then just how he carries himself. 4.0 (GPA) guy, he's just locked in all the time, everything. He's gonna win every sprint. You know he's not a guy that's going to be respectful to everyone else and go, 'well, maybe I shouldn't win this sprint.'
"He ain't worried about nobody else, and he's gonna win every sprint. If you can't run with him, too bad. You know that's just his mindset. He's not a guy that's gonna wait until his senior year to be a leader. He showed up here as a leader, and he's one of the most respected guys on this team already since he got here in January. Just his work ethic. Tremendous, tremendous work ethic, and just how he carries himself is, you know, unique for a freshman."
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"Fast" is the tip of the iceberg for adjectives used by Clemson personnel to describe him but is far and away the most common. Shipley is joined by veterans in the Tigers' running back room like Lyn-J Dixon (Sr.), Kobe Pace (So.), Michel Dukes (Jr.), Darien Rencher (Sr.), and even his early enrollee partner Phil Mafah (Fr.) earned praise in spring practice from RBs coach C.J. Spiller.
Shipley's early outlooks were hazy with so much depth remaining after Travis Etienne's NFL exit, but talent has boiled to the top before the no pads acclamation period ends. Shipley is sharp on cuts inside and bouncing out, doesn't drop passes, and runs routes like a receiver. He's now earned praise from Matt Bockhorst at Media day, who said, "he straight up dominates in practice, I'm just telling you what I've seen," and gathered another veteran offensive lineman's thumbs-up just days into camp.
"Yeah, fast," newly acclimated left tackle Jordan McFadden quickly said on his early impressions of Shipley. "He's a guy that works. I'll be in the weight room after hours, and he'll be in there after me. He's such a great guy. He's one of those guys that is not a freshman. He leads the other guys. In a sense, I would say he might be a leader already. He's very respectful and nice. I'm excited for his future and for what he does this season.
"I would say during a spring ball scrimmage -- we actually re-watched it today -- (there was a play) where he hit it up this middle and left all the DBs and everybody. I was sitting on the sideline like, 'I can't believe this guy is on our team.' Seeing how he can run from people is super exciting. ... I would say (he's the fastest on the team)... him, Frank Ladson (Jr.), and some of the DBs. We were conditioning one day on the hill and I saw him and Andrew Booth kind of going at it. I don't know if they were exactly racing but yeah (Shipley won). I don't think he and (Ladson) have raced, but that's something we need to see."
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