CLEMSON — Former Calhoun Academy standout Will Spiers got the call from head coach Dabo Swinney that he had hoped for in Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.
Facing a fourth-and-5 from Clemson’s 46-yard line, the redshirt freshman punter was called upon to do what he did so well for the Cavaliers — be a quarterback.
“I was just excited to get the opportunity to do it,” Spiers said. “Coach Swinney makes the play call and we just go with it. Once I heard it, I was just excited to go out there and give it a shot. Luckily, (wide receiver) Cornell (Powell) made a great play on the ball and came down with it.”
The pass officially put Spiers into record books, where he sits as the Tigers’ current leading quarterback in terms of completion percentage — one-for-one, 100-percent.
While the Tigers practice their fake punt and field goal packages each week, Spiers is not looking to make the move from punter to quarterback.
He is just trying to do whatever he can to help the Tigers win.
“I just go out there and keep my same routine, look like I’m about to punt the ball. The only thing different is I’m throwing it instead of punting it,” Spiers said. “I’m just trying to do my job trying to give our defense the best opportunity to stop their offense, and get the ball back to our offense to go score.”
The ability for Spiers to enter a game in a crucial situation and execute is no surprise for Swinney. He entered Clemson as an “all-around athlete” and not solely a punter.
“He wasn’t a punter (in high school). He just was the guy who went out there and punted,” Swinney said. “He didn’t have any coaching, no training, he wasn’t a guy who punted all of the time. He redshirted last year and worked really hard on his craft.
“He has really, really worked really hard to become a punter — to become a technical guy. I’m just really proud of him because he’s got a great mindset that you love to see out of your specialist, and his confidence is really high right now.”
While it has not always been pretty this season, the Tigers are currently 6-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. And if there is one thing the punter has learned in his two seasons with the program it is that they will celebrate every win, regardless of how it looked — or what those outside of the program think.
“To our team, a win’s a win. Any win’s a great win,” Spiers said. “We celebrate every win like it doesn’t matter if we win 56-to-nothing or 28-to-14 or whatever. We celebrate that win and then move on to the next week. Once we look at the film, we can see and critique and I can do the same with punting. … But we celebrate every win just like it’s the biggest win of the year.”
Whether it is with his arm or his leg — as he is currently averaging 44 yards per punt (29th nationally) -- Spiers has proven to be a “weapon” the Tigers believe could, when all is said and done, be one of the best to ever play at Clemson.
“It’s definitely something that’s important because that’s hidden yardage," Swinney said. "Your defense feels good about getting a stop, now all of a sudden you run your offense out there and you’re inside the five-yard line because the guy just launched one 60 yards.
“He’s a weapon, and he’s just going to get better. … When it’s all said and done, I think he can be one of the best we’ve had here.”