5 candidates for 2024 Comeback Player of the Year for Clemson Football

There are a handful of names returning to Clemson Football in 2024 after a lengthy absence. Here are five candidates who could be Comeback Player of the Year when the season is over.
Clemson wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) runs near Clemson defensive lineman DeMonte Capehart (19)
Clemson wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) runs near Clemson defensive lineman DeMonte Capehart (19) / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Injuries are a reality of life in college football, and Clemson Football has dealt with their share over the past few seasons. Injuries may rob the team of a valuable player, but the flip side is that most of those players will have a chance to play again.

Troy Stellato is a guy who many people had written off because he had barely seen the field through two seasons with the team. Then he suddenly started playing and he was one of the better receivers on the team.

Clemson lost a handful of guys for part or all of the 2023 season that should return in 2024. Here are five candidates for the 2024 Comeback Player of the Year for the Clemson Tigers.

Antonio Williams

Williams did play a few games in 2023, but he was injured early in the season. He did return twice. The first time it was clear he wasn’t 100% and he exited quickly. His second return was in the bowl game and he played well.

It’s a challenge for a player to leave and return constantly. Momentum is a real thing in sports, and it is both physical and mental. We didn’t get the best version of Agent 0 in 2023, but it appears he is on the right track for 2024.

Williams was Clemson’s best receiver as a true freshman in 2022, and many, myself included, consider him to be the best combination of talent and experience at the position heading into 2024.

Cole Turner

Turner is a different story. He is still a mystery in the big picture. He wasn’t a highly-rated prospect like Williams. When it was clear that Turner would redshirt the 2022 season, most observers assumed he would get a few snaps here and there and not be a big contributor.

It was exciting to see Turner exceed those limited expectations, especially in the 2022 ACC Championship Game. There was a lot of positivity about his potential in 2023, but that ended quickly when he was injured in his second game of the season.

Now, two years into Turner’s Clemson career, it’s fair to wonder if he will be able to overcome the injury and return to the form he had at the end of 2022. If he can regain his health and stay on the field in fall camp, he has a chance to remind us why we were excited for him to be a full-time contributor last season.

Walker Parks

Parks will likely be one of the last super seniors that the program sees in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Except he isn’t. This will be his third season which counts against his eligibility. He can return in 2025 if he wants.

That is mind-blowing, but Parks was a contributor on the line of scrimmage from the start of his freshman season, which was the impacted 2020-21 season. That’s why he is starting to be in the Hunter Renfrow/Will Spiers territory of being a Clemson Tigers forever.

The big guys don’t always bounce back from injuries the same way receivers or defensive backs do. Parks was still rehabbing his injury from 2023 this spring and was not a full participant. It sounds like the plan is for him to be ready to go by the start of this upcoming season, but there also seems to be a bit of hesitance in that discussion.

If Parks can return, it gives Clemson the chance to return four of the five linemen who started the 2023 season. This year, they will be coached by Matt Luke, who has a very strong track record.

Tyler Venables

I know what you are thinking: T-Bone has to be a super senior, right? Nope. He is in the same class as Parks and has the same resume. He was never redshirted as a freshman. He played 2020-21 (which didn’t count towards eligibility), then played two seasons before missing the 2023 season, which was counted as his redshirt. That means he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Venables was inactive for some time, so this spring was about getting back into the routine. I am not certain that anyone has projected him to be a starter next season. That’s not really where his value lies.

Venables wasn’t invisible to the team last year. He was a student coach. He will now be applying his ability when he is on the field. We have seen how beneficial it is to have a player on the field who understands the game as well as a coach (think James Skalski).

Additionally, a unit rarely has a player with his experience who is providing depth, especially in this day and age when upperclassmen often choose to transfer to find a starting role.

Jeadyn Lukus

I debated if I should put Lukus on this list. He did play about half the season before he was injured and couldn’t return. That second half of the season when he wasn’t available sure did seem like a long time, though.

The good news is that Avieon Terrell stepped up big time when veteran cornerbacks weren’t available last season. Shelton Lewis showed his potential. The Tigers have a highly rated prospect in Corian Gipson who is going to be a full-go for the regular season, and an early enrollee in Tavoy Feagin who played very well in the Spring Game.

The other side of that coin is that Lukus is the only name we have mentioned so far that has at least two full seasons in the program, albeit not always active due to injury. He will need to stay away from the injury bug to make an impact in 2024, but when he plays he will be part of the rotation at cornerback and might be a starter.