One of the most anticipated commitments from the Class of 2021 occurred on Tuesday afternoon, as 5-star All-Purpose running back Will Shipley, ranked #1 in 247sports running back rankings and #2 in ESPN’s, announced his intention to play for the Clemson Tigers, joining Dabo Swinney’s dynasty in South Carolina.
The Tigers had been among the favorites, and in the end they edged out Notre Dame for Shipley’s commitment. The North Carolina Gatorade player of the year was known to also be considering NC State, where both his parents attended, UNC, Duke and Stanford.
Shipley will be joining a loaded backfield at Clemson, who have a stream of talented running back recruits headed their way. Shipley may be the best of the bunch, but he said the Clemson coaching staff made it clear he would have to earn his playing time, appealing to his “ultra-competitive” nature. Notre Dame spent a lot of time recruiting Shipley, but ultimately the coronavirus pandemic lost them a chance to get the Clemson commit back on campus, which may have been a necessary visit to wrangle him from his comfort area in the Carolinas.
Shipley heading to Clemson does put the Irish in a tight situation, as they truly went all-in for the feature piece of their 2021 class. That recruiting class is ranked twelfth in the country, and pairing Shipley with 5-star quarterback Tyler Buchner could have made Notre Dame instant national title contenders. Instead, they’ll have to try to fill a vacant spot in their class, as to try to earn Shipley’s commitment, they had not offered any other backs. Notre Dame is already looking for other options, as they extended an offer to three-star running back Alton McKaskill. McKaskill would be a solid addition and soften the devastating blow of losing Shipley, but the Texas product does have 26 offers, including USC, Michigan, Florida State, Auburn, and a bevy of other Power-5 programs.