3 Questions about the Clemson Football special teams this spring

It is a mixed back for Clemson's special teams as they approach 2024. Here are the three things I am asking about as we approach the spring game.

Clemson punter Aidan Swanson (39) near Clemson kicker Nolan Hauser (81)
Clemson punter Aidan Swanson (39) near Clemson kicker Nolan Hauser (81) / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Special Teams is one of the three phases of football, but it rarely gets the respect that the other phases receive from fans – until something goes wrong. Here are the three things I am thinking about as we approach the stretch run of practices before the Spring Game.

Who steps in for Will Shipley on return duties?

Will Shipley has been a steady presence for kick returns for the last three years. Now that he is turning pro, the Tigers will need to rely on someone else to handle return duties.

Multiple players have lined up with Shipley on kick returns: Antonio Williams, Tyler Brown, Tink Kelley, etc. During the first spring practice session, observers noted that Troy Stellato was getting practice on punt returns, so he could be in the mix too.

Kickoff returns have become a lower-risk proposition, as many times the kickoffs go out of bounds or the returners call for a fair catch. While in the past I would favor putting a player who isn’t a key component elsewhere back to catch kicks, it doesn’t bother me as much anymore.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Williams and Brown back to return kickoffs. They might return only one or two out of every ten kicks, but why not put your biggest playmakers there to take advantage of the occasional short kickoff?

Punt returner is a different story, and I do not want to see either Williams or Brown there. I am looking forward to seeing Kelley in that role.

Next: Is Nolan Hauser ready for prime-time?