Clemson has been on the spring practice field for less than a week and a pair of freshman running backs are already earning veteran respect.
Early enrollees Will Shipley and Phil Mafah have both made their mark in their first week as Tigers, earning nods from fellow RB Lyn-J Dixon as well as QB D.J. Uiagalelei in Monday's post-practice interviews.
Dixon was swift with his response when asked about any freshmen who had turned his head in the first week.
"Pretty much both of the freshman (running backs), Phil and Will," Dixon said. "They're coming out and matching what we have, those guys were working. Even though they were tired, they were picking it up and pushing it. So that showed me something about those guys, that they're gonna be pretty good in a couple of years."
Mafah sustained a leg injury towards the end of his senior high school season but has been a full participant in practice his first week.
While Uiagalelei also mentioned a young defensive player, the QB made sure not to leave out the highly-touted Shipley when asked about the freshmen impressing him early on.
"Another guy I'd probably say on the offensive side is Will Shipley," Uiagalelei said. "During all the mat drills, all of practice and stuff he just looks real great out here. He's a really fast running back and you can just tell he has that mindset to him where he just wants to come out and compete. You can just tell he's really locked in and really focused."
With new coach C.J. Spiller in charge of the running backs, no player has any guarantees.
Spiller was brought in to use his experience as a tool for the young running backs, and Dabo Swinney has nothing but praise for his former player turned coach.
"C.J. has always been a student of the game," Swinney said. "He's a grown man now and has got a ton of experience and always has been a student of the game...he's a natural coach."
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