If you follow Notre Dame recruiting you’re certainly familiar with the name Will Shipley.
If you don’t, Shipley was one of the prized possessions of the 2021 recruiting class and a player Notre Dame came very close to getting a commitment from before he ultimately chose Clemson. It hurt at the time and certainly nobody in South Bend would be mad right now had he chose the Irish, but Clemson has given him the chance to start sooner than he likely would have at Notre Dame.
Through Clemson’s first three games Shipley has carried the ball 33 times for 175 yards and four touchdowns. 21 of those carries, 88 of the yards and two of those touchdowns came in last week’s 14-8 Clemson victory over Georgia Tech and on Tuesday, Dabo Swinney announced Shipley had officially become the Tigers starting running back.
Took 3 games before Shipley earned the starting role. Dabo just announced he'll start at N.C. State, where so many of his family members went to school.
— Anna Hickey (@AnnaH247) September 21, 2021
That’s not to say a year from now when Kyren Williams is in the NFL that Shipley’s talents wouldn’t be of great value, but it wasn’t likely going to happen for him right away in South Bend like it has at Clemson. That’s not meant as a knock on anyone as Shipley did what was best for him and he’s already showing out.
In terms of closing the gap at skill positions Notre Dame certainly has a long way to go to catch Alabama, Clemson, or even Ohio State, but this speaks to the significant steps they’ve taken at least at running back as a few short years ago this idea would have sounded absurd.