5-Star RB Will Shipley Commits to Clemson over Notre Dame

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Credit: Michael Clark, 247Sports

Highly touted running back Will Shipley committed to Clemson on Tuesday.

"Clemson is just the place for me," Shipley said to Rivals.com's Adam Friedman. "It was the people that make it up, the culture of the locker room, the atmosphere, the game day experience. There are so many things that went into it for me but when looking at the big picture I just didn't see a place that really showed my family and I better."

Will Shipley @willshipley2021

I AM ANNOUNCING MY COMMITMENT TO..... #TYG🙏🏼 https://t.co/8yNzXqxJxW

Shipley is the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 24 player in the 2021 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. The Matthews, North Carolina, native is also the best player in his home state.

As a junior at Weddington High School, he ran for 2,066 yards and 30 touchdowns while catching 34 passes for 582 yards and eight scores.

With the 2019 season approaching, Shipley told the Charlotte Observer's Langston Wertz Jr. he'd take all the time he needed to decide on his next step:

"I'm going to take this season and focus on football. Focus on winning a state championship and then narrow [my college list] down and make it public towards the end of the season. Hopefully, we can come back this year and make it happen again, [send] all the seniors off with another state championship; send them off right."

Shipley achieved his goal as Weddington defeated Lee County High School in the 3AA state championship.


3️⃣AA State Championship MVP! 🏈Will Shipley @BigDubFootball #NCHSAAFB 🏆 https://t.co/YWJqCfP1Cq

Before the title game, Shipley told Wertz he received a direct message on Instagram from Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. He also described the All-Pro running back as "obviously someone I try to model my game after."

Comparing anyone to McCaffrey is unfair. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and runner-up in the 2015 Heisman Trophy voting.

Based on his numbers from 2019, though, it's not hard to see why Shipley hopes to emulate McCaffrey on the field. He's an elusive runner who posted a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at The Opening in April 2019, per 247Sports. Open up a lane for him and he'll explode into the second level.

Rivals @Rivals

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Having lined up out wide and at safety, Shipley possesses good instincts as a pass-catcher too. That will be an asset for Clemson if head coach Dabo Swinney wants to spread out the offense with five receivers.

Expect the Tigers to gradually integrate Shipley into the offense as a true freshman. By the time the 2022 season rolls around, he might be poised for a breakout.

The Clemson offense is likely to look a lot different in 2021. Travis Etienne will have graduated, while Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross may have left for the greener pastures of the NFL.

Those three are all examples of how Swinney is willing to elevate first-year players if he believes they're good enough. Etienne, Lawrence and Ross assumed meaningful roles for the team right out of the gate.

Between that and Clemson's status as a perennial national title contender, it's easy to see why Shipley committed to the Tigers.