Swinney discusses Clemson’s scholarship crunch for 2023


With seven fifth- and sixth-year seniors returning to Clemson for an extra year, the Tigers are currently at 88 scholarships – three over the limit of 85.

Head coach Dabo Swinney spoke about that on Wednesday, saying there are a few former walk-ons – quarterback Hunter Helms, running back Domonique Thomas and long snapper Holden Caspersen — that could go off scholarship again if needed.

“Roster management is hard in this day of – we’ve got, what, a couple more years of COVID I guess,” Swinney said. “Again, I’m thankful for that because we’ve got some great players that are coming back. I thought all these guys were gone. If you had told me back in the summer that Xavier Thomas and (Justin) Mascoll and Ruke (Orhorhoro) and Tyler Davis and JP (Jalyn Phillips), that those guys were all back here, I’d have said, ‘What planet are you living on?’

“So, you kind of plan for these things, but we’ve got three walk-ons on scholarship that we could take back if we had to. I mean, they came here as walk-ons, certainly wouldn’t want to do that. Hunter’s on scholarship, Domonique’s on scholarship and my snapper Caspersen’s on scholarship. Those guys have earned it and they deserve it, but they did come here as a walk-on. If it got to that, but who knows.”

Added Swinney jokingly: “In May, I may be at 65 scholarships. They may hate Garrett (new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley), I don’t know.”

The scholarship numbers could obviously change if some players transfer after the spring, though the Tigers didn’t suffer any transfer departures after the spring last year – something Swinney said he hopes will be the case again this year.

“It doesn’t take much to really put the math together. So, we will be at 85 by August, is where you’ve got to be,” he said. “We didn’t lose anybody after spring ball last year and hopefully we don’t lose anybody this year. I think we’ve got a great roster.”

To that point about the roster, Swinney believes the Tigers have inked three “special” signing classes in a row with their 2023 haul on top of the 2022 and 2021 groups.

“I think we’ve put really three special classes together in a row – like special,” he said. “(Will) Shipley, (Phil) Mafah, Brinny (Jake Briningstool), Barrett (Carter), (Jeremiah) Trotter, Nate (Wiggins), Marcus Tate, that group that will be true juniors to go on top of that group last year that were true freshmen that will be sophomores in Cade (Klubnik) and Blake (Miller) and Collin Sadler and some of the other guys that have come in here – Antonio (Williams), Cole (Turner), Adam Randall. It’s a great class. We really signed a great class to put with this group.

“I think it’s a really special roster that I think is built to do some things for many years to come. So, I’m excited to get to work with them, and we’ll see what happens. But again, we didn’t lose anybody last year after spring and hopefully we don’t lose anybody this year. But if you do, you deal with it. But that’s where we are today.”

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