Meet the Clemson freshman drawing Christian McCaffrey comparisons

(Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via IMAGN Content Services) Will Shipley
(Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via IMAGN Content Services) Will Shipley /

The latest college recruit drawing comparisons to Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is playing quite close to home.

It’s hard to imagine there is another Christian McCaffrey out there. Despite what preseason rankings across the national media tell you, the Carolina Panthers running back is still the best dual-threat player at the position and should return to the form of old in 2021 after missing 13 games last season due to various injury problems.

That being said, it doesn’t stop people speculating just who the next McCaffrey might be. Many have been given this tag without ever amounting to anything in recent years, with Kenneth Gainwell hoping to buck the trend after the Memphis product was selected No. 150 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles this spring.

There is another prospect just starting his college journey that has similar traits to the All-Pro and isn’t playing that far from where McCaffrey will be turning it on at Bank of America Stadium.

Will Shipley was a huge get by Clemson during the recruitment process and should play a significant role as a freshman. The Tigers lost both Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne to the NFL this year, so they’ll need some talented young playmakers to step up in the absence of a duo that both find themselves on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Will Shipley has the dual-threat skills of Christian McCaffrey.

Shipley was a four-star high school recruit according to ESPN and the No. 2 back in the country. The North Carolina native got a bunch of offers from some prestigious programs, before opting to follow in the footsteps of some high-profile figures that have come through Clemson under Dabo Sweeney.

It’s not hard to see why Shipley has been compared to McCaffrey. He is a dynamic force out of the backfield that also boasts some eye-catching traits in the passing game, something that every team covets in today’s NFL.

Perhaps Shipley’s crowning performance on the field so far was during the 2019 state championship game, where he ran for no fewer than four touchdowns and generated 256 rushing yards to further stake his claims as one of the brightest young prospects you’ll find anywhere.

This also went a long way towards Shipley being named Player of the Year by the Charlotte Observer – which was swiftly followed by a strong pitch from Clemson duo Danny Pearman and Tony Elliott that eventually convinced him to come on board.

In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Shipley was a straight-A student at Weddington High School and ran the 55 meters in 6.36 seconds. All eyes will be on the player in 2021 after not playing last year due to COVID-19, but the early signs are promising if reports from the Tigers’ spring training are any indication.

Putting additional pressure on Shipley by comparing him to McCaffrey is something that could harm his production. Although there is just no telling for sure until the player sees meaningful reps.

Shipley has so much going for him and seems to possess a level head, which is always half the battle when it comes to high school players arriving in college after some exceptional numbers and accolades.

Only time will tell as to whether Shipley will end up being anything like as good as McCaffrey was. Not only throughout his college career but also if the back ends up making it to the NFL somewhere down the line.

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And who knows, he might even be a Panther one day.