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Thunder and Lightning Part Deux?

New running backs coach C.J. Spiller has seen both freshmen running backs' potential but is urging Will Shipley and Phil Mafah to be themselves under high expectations early at Clemson.

Speaking to the media for the first time Wednesday regarding freshmen running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah reminded newly minted coach C.J. Spiller of his very own historic Clemson duo.

"(Shipley and Mafah) kind of remind you, I guess you could say, of James Davis and myself, but you don't want to put that type of pressure on them," Spiller said.

With high praise for two highly touted first-year Tigers, Spiller realizes potential doesn't equal reality and there will be growing pains along the way for both running backs.

"Both Will and Phil have looked great so far," Spiller said. "You expect them to come in and be just freshmen. They're going to have mistakes along the way. It's a new system.

"For Will, you know he didn't have a chance to play high school ball (his senior year), so you have to take into account that he hasn't played in over a year. So you have to be careful and make sure that he comes along properly. Phil, he's looked awesome. As good as advertised."

Since his junior year of high school, Shipley hasn't played in a regulation game, opting to leave early to have the extra preparation with the Tigers in spring.

“After sitting down and talking to the coaches at Clemson and (Weddington) Coach (Andy) Capone, I think it’s best for me to go up there and do what I want to do. To play early and make an impact when I get on campus. So this is something I needed to do to make sure I’m the best version of myself.” Shipley said in October of 2020.

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Mafah missed some time later as a senior in high-school due to a leg injury, but with both now on the spring practice field, Spiller wants the freshmen to stay grounded and stick to what they know.

"The thing that I tell both of those guys is to be yourself, be who you are," Spiller said. "Don't worry about these high expectations that other people have on you, go out there and be the best version of yourself. Don't try to be anyone else. Both of those guys have done a tremendous job of that throughout the spring so far."

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