Clemson Football: Spring Game rosters have a few surprises

Clemson running back Phil Mafah (7) runs during practice in Clemson in Clemson, S.C. March 29, 2023.Clemson Football Spring Practice March 29 2023
Clemson running back Phil Mafah (7) runs during practice in Clemson in Clemson, S.C. March 29, 2023.Clemson Football Spring Practice March 29 2023 /

Earlier this week Clemson Football announced they will separate their roster for the Spring Game a little differently this year. Instead of breaking up the players evenly between the Orange and the White teams, they will group the first-string players on one team, and then the second-string players on the other team.

The Tigers have announced the players for the Orange and the White, and while much of it is straightforward, there are some peculiarities.

The Orange team, led by defensive line coach Nick Eason will feature the first-string defense and the second-string offense. The White team, led by running backs coach CJ Spiller, will feature the first-string offense and the second-team defense.

As expected, Cade Klubnik will lead the White offense. The Orange offense will be led by Hunter Helms and Christopher Vizzina. We will have to wait until they take the field Saturday to see if Helms or Vizzina takes the field first. Helms has seniority and experience, so the odds favor that he will start the game. If Vizzina takes the field first, that is a good sign he proved himself to the staff this spring.

The first unexpected decision is at running back. Will Shipley will be on the Orange roster. Phil Mafah will be starting for the White team alongside Klubnik.

Klubnik will be throwing the ball to Antonio Williams, Cole Turner, and Brannon Spector at wide receiver for the White. The White will also have tight end Jake Briningstool. The Orange offense lists Noble Johnson and Troy Stellato, so it is likely the Orange will see several walk-ons line up at receiver. Beaux Collins, Adam Randall and Will Taylor will not be playing due to recovery from injury/surgery or other obligations. Taylor is with the Clemson baseball team.

The second peculiarity on the offensive side is returning starting center Will Putnam being placed on the Orange roster snapping to Helms and Vizzina. Ryan Linthicum will be the presumed starter snapping to Klubnik.

Tristan Leigh, Blake Miller, Mitchell Mayes, and Harris Sewell are on the White roster beside Linthicum. John Williams, Bryn Tucker, Trent Howard, Dietrick Pennington, and Ian Reed are beside Putnam on the Orange.

One of the more popular position battles this spring was on the defensive line, with many fans wondering where some of the younger players would land. The Tigers did not fail to create an interesting storyline with their Spring Game roster.

True freshmen Peter Woods and TJ Parker will be on the Orange roster, playing alongside presumed starters Tyler Davis and Justin Mascoll. Ruke Orhororo, Tre Williams, Demonte Capehart, Cade Denhoff and Greg Williams will line up for the White.

As expected, Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter will start for the Orange, but the third presumed starter at linebacker, Wade Woodaz, will be on the White roster alongside TJ Dudley and Dee Crayton. Kobe McCloud and Jamal Anderson will join Carter and Trotter on the Orange side.

Nate Wiggins will lead the backfield for the Orange, and he will be joined by Toriano Pride at cornerback. Sheridan Jones will be on the White roster along with Malcolm Greene, Jaedyn Lukus, and Shelton Lewis.

Andrew Mukuba and RJ Micken line up for the Orange at safety. The White safeties are Jalyn Phillips, Tyler Venables, and Sherrod Covil.

Most would have presumed a true split between first and second strings would put Jones and Phillips on the Orange roster, but this might be due to both players being limited somewhat during spring practices. It is also possible the staff made exceptions to the general rule in some areas, choosing to create even sides on some units.