Mafah and Shipley add speed and power to Clemson's loaded backfield


by - Recruiting Reporter -
Mafah works out at the high school camp in Clemson last June.
Mafah works out at the high school camp in Clemson last June.

Clemson has built another solid backfield in the 2021 class, gaining commitments from the first two running backs who received Clemson offers. With Phil Mafah and Will Shipley on board, the Tigers have assembled a combination of power and speed to add to an already loaded backfield.

Mafah committed to Clemson in August, the same day the Tigers opened the 2019 season against Georgia Tech. The 4-star power back from Grayson (GA) Loganville follows in the footsteps of another great Clemson back, Wayne Gallman, who came to Clemson from Grayson HS and left as a national champion and record holder.

TigerNet caught up with Mafah to discuss his offseason training and what set Clemson apart during his recruitment.

At 6-1, 225-pounds, Mafah has always been known as a power back. Mafah continues to work hard during the quarantine, fully focused on improving all aspects of his game. What has his training consisted of and what does he feel like are the strengths to his game?

“I’m still working and lifting weights and getting some drills in,” Mafah told TigerNet. “I’m training with guys from high school in the mornings with my friend’s dad at their weight room, and I’m working with a private trainer doing speed and agility drills. I’m trying to get better in all aspects of my game. I feel like I’m a 3-down back. I feel like I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I know I’m a big back and I can move. I feel like I’m versatile, I’m not just a big back that runs over people. I can do different things and I’m trying to improve on every aspect.”

Mafah visited Clemson multiple times during the recruiting process and became very close with running backs coach and run game coordinator, Tony Elliott. Building that relationship with Coach Elliott and the Clemson staff was a major factor in Mafah’s commitment and Mafah continues to build on that relationship with his future position coach.

“I talk to Coach Elliott a lot,” Mafah said. “We’ve built a really good relationship. We just talk about life. He asks me how I’m doing and I ask him how he’s doing. Just building a really good relationship. I like that Clemson’s close to home, the education, and all the people there are like family. The coaches are like family. I always felt comfortable there.”

Mafah had already communicated to the Clemson coaches that he wanted to be a Clemson Tiger, and being able to attend Clemson’s first game of the season provided him the opportunity to commit to Dabo Swinney and the Clemson staff in person.

“I officially committed on the day of the Georgia Tech game,” he said. “I committed before, I told them I wanted to come there but they said if I wanted to commit I needed to come there and do it in person and tell Coach Swinney. I actually got injured, I broke my collarbone the weekend before the first game. I had surgery on Tuesday and went to the game on Thursday.”

Mafah had said that he would love to team up with Shipley at Clemson, and Shipley’s commitment last week made that a reality. Who else would Mafah like to play with and how does he see the recruiting class shaping up for Clemson?

“Right now I’d say Barrett Carter,” he said. “I feel like we could finish top 3. Either way, I feel like our guys are different. I don’t care what the rankings say, I just feel like our guys are different because of the way Clemson recruits.”

Mafah is a multi-sport athlete at Grayson, starring on the football field and running track. Mafah plans on being an early enrollee, with plans to major in IT or engineering. What kind of player and person will Clemson be getting when Mafah arrives on campus?

“A person that’s willing to work and try to be the best every day,” Mafah said. “Someone who cares about education and cares about others and wants to give back to the community.”

Mafah’s last verified 40-yard dash came last year at The Opening, with a laser time of 4.69. Mafah has posted very impressive numbers in the weight room, throwing up 305 pounds on power clean, 295 pounds on bench press, and 460 pounds on squat. Mafah’s size and speed makes him a very effective back, getting downhill and up to top speed within his first few strides.

Mafah is currently ranked as the No. 16 running back in the country by 247Sports Composite rankings and the No. 26 player in Georgia.

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