CLEMSON — The White rallied to top the Orange 14-13 in Clemson’s spring game on Saturday, which closed out spring practice for the Tigers.
There were plenty of impressive performances on both sides of the ball, and several freshmen stood out.
Here are five takeaways from Clemson’s spring game:
Ajou Ajou stars
The sophomore wideout has been described by Clemson’s coaching staff as a developmental player because the Canada native arrived to Clemson as a raw prospect. It’s safe to say Ajou is developing just fine. If you were watching Saturday’s scrimmage with no prior knowledge of Clemson’s team, Ajou looked like the best receiver on the field and arguably the best player.
He caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, leading Clemson’s wideouts. He was matched up with second-team All-ACC selection Andrew Booth on several plays and won his share of battles.
Ajou still has plenty to learn, but you can tell the game is slowing down for him. He did a nice job of getting open, made plays after the catch and looks like he can be a real weapon this fall.
Tigers stacked at running back
Clemson doesn’t have a standout back like Travis Etienne, but the Tigers do have several capable performers. Lyn-J Dixon and Kobe Pace appear to be the top two backs, and both looked good in limited playing time Saturday.
Freshmen Will Shipley and Phil Mafah made several plays as well. Shipley has nice size and speed for a true freshman, with Dabo Swinney saying during the broadcast “he can absolutely fly.” Shipley also did a nice job in pass protection against blitzing linebackers.
Mafah had the game-winning touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, and Swinney noted that he gave the White team a nice spark. Clemson appears to be just fine at running back.
Nate Wiggins will help this year
Clemson freshman cornerback Nate Wiggins led the Tigers in interceptions this spring, and with the way he played Saturday, it’s easy to see why. Wiggins nearly had a pick in the first half of the spring game, jumping an out route and getting his hands on the ball, before it fell to the ground. He also wasn’t afraid to make tackles in the running game, finishing with four stops, including a tackle for loss.
Wiggins still needs to add some weight, but he appears ready to help the Tigers this season.
Hunter Helms isn’t overwhelmed
With Taisun Phommachanh going down, Clemson suffers an injury at a position it couldn’t afford. The Tigers were already thin at quarterback with Phommachanh and starting QB D.J. Uiagalelei as the only two scholarship quarterbacks in the room.
Uiagalelei and walk-on Hunter Helms are the only two healthy QBs on campus now. With that said, Helms did some nice things Saturday. He played for both teams and finished 11-for-16 passing for 88 yards and an interception. Clemson is slated to add two freshmen QBs this summer in Will Taylor and Bubba Chandler, although both are baseball prospects and could opt to turn pro in baseball instead.
Clemson will also likely look to the portal for a quarterback. But if Helms is called upon at some point in 2021, don’t automatically expect the worst. He made some nice plays Saturday, appeared confident and knows the playbook.