Clemson football: CJ Spiller calls freshmen RB duo ‘Thunder & Lightning’

Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) listens to running backs coach C.J. Spiller during football practice on March 5.Clemson Spring Football Practice
Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) listens to running backs coach C.J. Spiller during football practice on March 5.Clemson Spring Football Practice /

C.J. Spiller compares Clemson football freshman RBs to ‘Thunder & Lightning’

It doesn’t take very long for Clemson football fans to conjure up thoughts of, perhaps, the brightest spot in the Tommy Bowden era when you just mention the words ‘Thunder and Lightning’ together in the same sentence.

C.J. Spiller and James Davis played together for three seasons (2006-08) and the duo became known as ‘Thunder and Lightning’ due to Davis’ power and explosive running ability combined with Spiller’s elite track speed and burst. Interestingly enough, the name became so popular that there were actual t-shirts sold in Clemson that said ‘if the thunder doesn’t get you, the lightning will.’

The two finished their respective careers combining for a massive 7,428 yards rushing and 100 touchdowns.

Spiller has now gone on to be inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame and his jersey number (No. 28) was retired immediately after he graduated. After serving as an unpaid assistant for the last season, Spiller was named the RBs Coach for Clemson and he met with the media for the first time after practice on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about the freshman running back duo of Will Shipley (5-star) and Phil Mafah (4-star), Spiller compared the two in a way that should have all Clemson football fans excited.

"“Both Will and Phil have looked great so far,” Spiller said via The Clemson Insider. “You expect them to come in and be just freshmen. They’re going to have mistakes along the way. It’s a new system.“They kind of remind you of that, I guess you could say, that old James Davis and myself, but you don’t want to put that type of pressure on them.”"

Spiller said he didn’t want to put pressure on the two highly-touted running backs and, instead, has continued to tell them to just be themselves rather than worrying about living up to expectations.

"“The thing that I tell both of those guys is be yourself, be who you are,” Spiller said. “Don’t worry about these high expectations that other people have on you. Just go out there and just be the best version of yourself, don’t try to be anybody else. Both of those guys have done a tremendous job of that throughout this spring so far.”"

C.J. Spiller was an absolute homerun hire for Clemson football and it’s already showing

Spiller knows how to evaluate talent and he’s saying all the right things.

He talked to the media for more than 30 minutes on Wednesday and was extremely comfortable. In many ways, he almost looked like a Dabo Swinney understudy.

Spiller is going to a homerun hire for the Tigers and there’s no doubt in our mind that the running back room will be better as a result of his coaching, experience and ability to connect with players on a personal level.

We love what we’re seeing and hearing from Spiller so far and to hear him compare these two freshmen running backs to Davis and himself shows just how much talent they possess.

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