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Previewing Clemson’s top impact players for the 2023 season

David Ferrara // Alumnus
Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) practices ahead of the 2022 Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.

With Clemson football’s 2023 season approaching, there are several players who are looking to make a major impact. Here are just a few that fans should keep a lookout for this fall:

Antonio Williams, Wide Receiver

Clemson wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) goes through drills at practice on March 6, 2023. 
Clemson wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) goes through drills at practice on March 6, 2023. (Matt Mynes // Photo Editor)

As a true freshman, Williams led the Tigers with 604 receiving yards. He also led the team with 56 receptions, making himself the top target for Clemson. 

Williams solidified a spot on ESPN’s first-team Freshman All-American team thanks to his performance. With Clemson’s strong history of developing extremely athletic receivers, fans should expect Williams to dominate opposing defenses this upcoming season. 

And after a full offseason to develop a connection with quarterback Cade Klubnik, Williams will look to improve on last season’s success and continue his ascension among the ranks of college football wide receivers. 

Will Shipley, Running Back

Clemson running back Will Shipley celebrates after an important play in the Tigers' victory over Louisville in November, 2023.
Clemson running back Will Shipley celebrates after a touchdown in the Tigers’ 31-16 victory over Louisville on November 12, 2022. (Katie Bradham // Video Editor)

Shipley has proven himself as one of the most elite running backs in college football, and he will look to continue this trend this fall. 

After Shipley’s performance in the 2022 season, when he had 1,424 offensive yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, he has earned a spot on many preseason award watch lists, including the Walter Camp Award, given to the best all-around player in college football. Shipley has also been pegged as a top prospect for the Doak Walker Award, which is bestowed upon the best running back. 

The Charlotte, North Carolina native has become one of Clemson’s essential offensive weapons, and his presence in both the rushing and passing game is both steady and necessary for the Tigers’ offense. Shipley also snagged the No. 26 slot in ESPN’s top 100 college football player rankings, considering he made the 2022 All-ACC team three times as a tailback, all-purpose player and specialist.

Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter, Linebackers

Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter will look to lead the Tigers' defense against South Carolina on Nov. 26, 2022.
After starting in one game as a freshman in 2021, Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter was a key player for the Tigers in 2022, playing and starting in 13 games. (Matt Mynes // Photo Editor)

Trotter and Carter were an anchor for Clemson’s defense last season, and it looks like it will continue to be that way. 

In 2022, Trotter led the team in total tackles and sacks with 89 and 6.5, respectively. Carter finished with 73 total tackles and 5.5 sacks. 

Both Trotter and Carter are on the watchlist for the Butkus Award, which is given to the best linebacker in college football. They consistently elevate their game and each other as they warrant discussion as two of the premier linebackers in college football. 

Trotter earned the No. 21 slot on ESPN’s top 100 list and a nod from Pro Football Focus for being the second-best linebacker in the Power Five. Carter is right behind him at No. 34.

Peter Woods and Tyler Davis, Defensive Tackles

Clemson defensive tackle Peter Woods (11) goes through tackling drills at practice on March 6, 2023.
Clemson defensive tackle Peter Woods (11) goes through tackling drills at practice on March 6, 2023. (Matt Mynes // Photo Editor)

Woods has been consistently seen as one of the best true freshmen coming into the 2023 season. 

Woods, a five-star recruit coming out of high school, will be looking to make an immediate impact against opposing offensive lines for the Tigers’ defense. 

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive tackle has the opportunity to learn alongside experienced All-American “Mini Fridge” Tyler Davis. 

Davis is coming off a season where he recorded 32 total tackles and 5.5 sacks, earning him a top-75 spot in ESPN’s top 100 and adding him to the Outland Trophy watch list for the best interior lineman in the NCAA. 

With Davis lined up next to Woods, Clemson’s defensive front could be among the best in the nation. 

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Luke Beard
Luke Beard, Asst. Sports Editor
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