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Swinney looking to see significant development from two starters

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers had their first spring practice session of 2023 on Monday, March 6. 

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has never shied away from developing his players to their full potential, regardless of what they accomplished early in their careers.

As the Tigers began spring practice this week, Swinney spoke about what he wants to see from wide receiver Antonio Williams and defensive back Andrew Mukuba.

Although it took a handful of games for him to receive the starting nod from the coaching staff, Williams eventually became the Tigers’ primary receiver as a freshman last fall. In 14 games, the former four-star recruit recorded a team-high 56 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns. 

With Williams entering his sophomore year, though, Swinney wants to see the slot receiver polish his technique and become more of a leader.

“You just want to see a guy learn and apply the lessons from last year; take that next step. He was a freshman All-American last year, but they don’t give sophomore All-American,” Swinney said of Williams. “Just take another step from a maturation standpoint and his overall total development. He needs to get stronger in the weight room. He needs to be a little bit more committed, nutritionally.”

Swinney also had similar comments on Mukuba, who struggled at times last fall after winning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. Injuries and personnel decisions ultimately forced the Austin, Texas, native to often play at cornerback — a position that put Mukuba in difficult spots at times. 

“He’s got to be more disciplined and more focused — there’s no question,” Swinney said. “He made some mistakes last year, that if he was a little more disciplined with his eyes and technique, he’s in a better position.”

Along with being more mentally disciplined, Swinney is looking to see him develop his body to be game-ready for an entire season. In Swinney’s words, Mukuba has to physically “assert himself.”

“I thought he took a step back last year,” Swinney said. “I don’t think, physically, he was in a good place. He was hurt a lot. The one thing I’ll say about Mukuba is that he’s one of the toughest kids we have on this team. I just don’t think he had his body in the best possible spot last year. He’s already improved in that area.” 

Swinney added that the defensive back has gained 8 or 9 pounds since the end of last season and has already shown signs of improvement from a nutrition and physical standpoint.

Entering the spring, Swinney said that passing offense and passing defense were the two areas his team needed to improve on the most. Williams and Mukuba have the chance to lead the way in those efforts. 

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Justin Robertson
Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
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