All Clemson Tigers is getting you ready for the 2023 season with a list of some of the most anticipated players. Heading into the fall, these Tigers are either coming off of injuries, stepping into larger roles or are needed for Clemson to have a big season. You won’t find fan favorites like Will Shipley or Barrett Carter on this list. They are known commodities. Instead, the focus is on players the fans can’t wait to do something they haven’t seen.
Let’s keep the countdown going with No. 7.
Junior RB Phil Mafah
Key stats from 2022: 98 carries, 515 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns.
Why the hype?: Mafah is the yang to Shipley’s yin in the Tiger offense. He averaged 5.26 yards per carry last year behind Shipley’s 5.63, and that came with half the carries for Mafah. He could’ve easily bolted for greener pastures through the transfer portal, but Mafah stuck around, and you’ve got to think he plans on playing more than just the sidekick role. His teammates have raved about how he’s transformed his body and looks like a No. 1 back. His commitment level speaks volumes, and his willingness to stay in the backfield with Shipley shows Mafah wants to win. Plus, maybe there will be more two-back looks this fall.
What to expect in 2023: Mafah won’t supplant All-ACC star Shipley, but the No. 2 is going to receive a much bigger role in 2023’s Garrett Riley offense, which is going to produce much bigger numbers. If the carries get closer to a 50-50 split and the Tigers rely heavily on the run game, it’s not outlandish to think they could have two backs at least near 1,000 yards each and double-digit touchdowns. More conservative estimations probably put him in the 700-800 yard range. He’s as exciting a backup as any in the country.
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