Clemson Football: Who has eligibility left for the 2023 season?

Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata (10) during the third quarter at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022.Ncaa Football Clemson At Wake Forest
Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata (10) during the third quarter at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022.Ncaa Football Clemson At Wake Forest /

If you are confused about which Clemson Football players have eligibility left, don’t worry. You are in the majority.

College football is still dealing with the impacts of the 2020 season. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren’t there yet. Until all the players from the Class of 2020 or earlier move on, COVID rules will impact rosters.

Clemson lists their roster the way the players would be categorized normally. In other words, they haven’t changed anything for COVID. The only exceptions are:

  • Players who are in their ‘extra’ season are listed as super seniors, with an abbreviation of +SR
  • Players who could have technically redshirted in 2020 aren’t listed as redshirts because 2020 didn’t count toward eligibility

For those wondering, just because a player has ‘Graduate’ beside their Year designation on the roster doesn’t mean they are a super senior. It simply means they have completed their undergraduate degree.

I am going to admit I am not an expert on NCAA rules or the way they operate, but a lot of people think the NCAA gifted players an ‘extra’ season because of COVID, which is not technically correct. The NCAA simply doesn’t count the 2020 season toward eligibility. It’s like it never existed. Based on that, I have done my best to organize where players stand at this moment.

Keep in mind that most of these players haven’t made any official public statements on their plans, and probably won’t until after the Orange Bowl. We can, however, glean likely intentions from some clues the players have given us.

These are the scholarship players currently listed as super seniors on the 2022 football roster:

  • Hunter Johnson, QB
  • BT Potter, K
  • Luke Price, TE
  • Xavier Thomas, DE

Normally, when a super senior has completed their season, it means their college career has ended. That is the case for Johnson, Potter & Price.

Thomas, however, has mitigating circumstances due to his injury situation in 2022. Thomas never utilized a redshirt season while at Clemson. Since he played in fewer than four games in 2022, this season qualifies as a redshirt season for him. He can return for another season, even though he was a super senior this year.

Just because he can return doesn’t mean he will return. Thus far, Thomas has not given us a strong indication of his plans.

Some might argue that Thomas could improve his draft stock by returning, but I have my doubts. I think it would take a stellar season to shift the NFL needle at this point. There is also a logic in starting his NFL clock. I would love for him to return but I am not holding my breath.

These are the scholarship players that have eligibility remaining who were honored on Senior Day:

  • Davis Allen, TE
  • Tyler Davis, DT
  • Carson Donnelly, S
  • KJ Henry, DE
  • Sheridan Jones, CB
  • Justin Mascoll, DE
  • Jordan McFadden, LT
  • Keith Maguire, LB
  • Joseph Ngata, WR
  • Ruke Orhorhoro, DE
  • Jalyn Phillips, S
  • Trenton Simpson, LB
  • Drew Swinney, WR

My understanding is that if a player is honored on Senior Day, that usually means that they will not be returning to the team, but we have seen exceptions to this general rule. Each of these players can return for another season if they choose. Some of them might have accepted the offer to be honored on Senior Day just in case they decide to leave after the bowl game but aren’t completely decided on what they want to do next year.

A few of them have announced that they will play in post-season all-star games. Allen, Davis, Henry, and Orhorhoro have accepted invitations to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Jones has accepted an invitation to play in the East/West Shrine Bowl. This is fairly strong evidence these players are leaning towards moving on.

Two of the players honored on Senior Day are listed as juniors, but that might not mean the same thing for both. Simpson has long been expected to leave for the NFL after this season. He will not be playing in the Orange Bowl due to injury. This morning, it was announced that he will be declaring for the NFL Draft. Internally, this has probably been known, and it is why he was honored on Senior Day, even though he isn’t a senior.

The other junior, Maguire, is a bit more of a mystery. He is listed on Clemson’s roster as a redshirt junior, meaning he has been in the program for four years. In the eyes of the NCAA, he is a redshirt sophomore. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He might have simply run the hill on Senior Day because he is graduating this semester. He isn’t a name associated with leaving for the NFL early. He is a player who I felt would either return to Clemson in 2023 or enter the transfer portal. He could enter the portal after the bowl game, but most players who intend to transfer enter the portal as soon as they possibly can.

Hopefully, he comes back for another season in Death Valley, but maybe he has just decided it’s time to move on. Not everyone who leaves the team intends to keep playing football. We really don’t know right now. We will need to stay tuned in and see what he announces.

As for the rest, we will have to wait to see what these players decide. Based on what I’ve heard and read throughout the season, I would guess that Mascoll, McFadden, Phillips, and Ngata probably aren’t returning, but we might be pleasantly surprised by one or two of them. I think McFadden is an established commodity for NFL scouts – I think they know who he is. Like Thomas, more college ball won’t move the needle. In my opinion Mascoll, Phillips and Ngata can improve their draft stock if they return.

I would be surprised if Donnelly and Swinney didn’t return for their super senior seasons. Both started their careers as walk-ons. They might decide to start their post-football careers, but I tend to think they would take advantage of their remaining eligibility.

Until Clemson Football players make an public statement regarding their future, we just don’t know what they plan to do for 2023

Last, but not least, Myles Murphy and Brian Bresee are the true juniors who have been strongly rumored to leave for the NFL, but were not honored on Senior Day. Why were Simpson and McGuire honored on Senior Day while Murphy and Bresee weren’t? I don’t have an answer. It might be tied to their graduation status. I don’t have a great resource for determining who is graduating this December and who isn’t.

We know now that Murphy is opting out of the Orange Bowl, so it is confirmed that he will be entering the NFL Draft and forgoing his remaining eligibility.

Bresee is in the mystery category. He is practicing, so it doesn’t appear that he is opting out. I think he would be drafted high if he declared for the NFL, likely on Day 1.

Bresee missed a lot of time this season. He might feel he wants to come back for one more year. There also seem to be rumblings about a position change. You might have noticed him lining up at defensive end a few times in the ACC championship game. This is a guess out of left field, but if Bresee thinks he might want to try end, he might choose to return in 2023.

After explaining all of this eligibility stuff and why I think some might go and some might return, I see this on Twitter:

Davis might come back? It turns out you can accept an all-star game invite and come back for another season. It’s only if you play in the game that you forfeit your eligibility.

Henry and Orhorhoro then responded to Davis’s tweet.

And McFadden too:

This all might just be a bit of fun by the guys, but it is exciting to think they might return. I’m just not going to get my hopes up just yet.

What we do know for certain is outside of Potter, Johnson and Price, they all have eligibility left…if they want it.

Next. Clemson 2022 offense vs. 2021 offense. dark