CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Spiller compares Shipley's competitive fire to Michael Jordan's
CJ Spiller is impressed with Will Shipley's fire for the game of football.

Spiller compares Shipley's competitive fire to Michael Jordan's


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – It was a simple play, one that came early in a spring practice that no one will remember except for maybe Will Shipley, whose competitive fire has been compared to all-time NBA great Michael Jordan.

During an early tempo period last week during the Tigers’ spring practice, the offense drove the ball down the field and scored on a toss from quarterback Cade Klubnik to wide receiver Antonio Williams. As safety Andrew Mukuba stood in the endzone arguing for a push-off and a flag, Shipley ran screaming up the sideline, celebrating the score.

Running backs coach CJ Spiller stood in the middle of the field and watched Shipley’s quick jaunt up the sideline, a small smile on his face as he turned his attention to the second-team offense that was taking the field. Spiller later said that Shipley is the whole package.

“It’s really everything, honestly,” Spiller said about what he appreciates most about Shipley. “I mean, he’s the ultimate competitor. This kid plays with a competitive edge that you have to match it because if you don’t match it, it’s going to be very hard for you.”

How competitive is Shipley? Spiller compared his junior running back to Michael Jordan. Spiller mentioned The Last Dance, the documentary that ESPN ran on Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.

“I’m pretty sure you’ve probably watched The Last Dance with Michael Jordan and how he was in practice. I’m not saying Shipley’s Michael Jordan, so let’s not write that. I’m not saying Shipley’s Michael Jordan,” Spiller said. “But just that competitive, fierce, like how he goes at you – he’s just a different player when he steps on the field.”

On the field, Shipley is really good. He was the only player in the nation to record at least 1,150 rushing yards, at least 200 receiving yards and at least 300 kickoff return yards, joining Spiller (2009) as the only ACC players since 2000 to accomplish the feat. He also became the first player in ACC history to earn first-team all-conference honors at three different positions, collecting first-team honors in the running back, all-purpose and specialist categories.

It’s the Shipley that Spiller sees off the field that he appreciates as a man, but it’s the fierce competitor he sees on the field that appreciates as a coach.

“Off the field, he’s one of the nicest kids that you can be around. Very humble,” Spiller said. “But when you step on the field, that kid’s all about winning, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win, and he’s going to push everybody around him to be better. And to me, that’s a great sign of a great teammate, because he’s pushing everybody else around him to be their best, and then he’s holding himself accountable. Because when you do that, you’ve got to make sure you’re on top of your game, and he does a great job with that.”

Last season, Shipley joined Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard as the only ACC players to rush for 11 or more touchdowns in both their freshman and sophomore campaigns since 2000. He was also a two-time All-ACC Academic Team selection and academic standout who in 2022, became Clemson’s first Academic All-American since 2012.

“I’m just very appreciative that I get an opportunity to be his coach – really be all those guys’ coach, because they do bring great joy, and they make it very fun and very lively to be in that room,” Spiller said. “But he’s the one that gets it going, just from his competitive nature.”

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