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Will Spiers

Will Spiers before the Syracuse game at Clemson.

CLEMSON -- Former Calhoun Academy standout Will Spiers is no stranger to tossing around the pigskin.

The former high school quarterback, and current Clemson Tiger punter has seen his opportunities limited to a 5-yard completion last season against Wake Forest on a fake punt.

However, should the Tigers need his services at quarterback, he will be ready. After the departure of former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, the coaching staff approached Spiers about getting some time at the quarterback position.

“They just told me that they wanted me to start going to the quarterback meeting and trying to learn a little bit because you never know,” Spiers said. “I’ve been taking advantage of it and doing what they ask me to do.

“I’m enjoying it, it’s been fun. It’s a good experience for me to be able to learn a little bit more football, so I’m excited about it.”

Even though it has been three years since he last took a snap at quarterback, the feeling was similar to that of riding a bike -- one that he hasn’t forgotten.

“I mean, of course it’s a lot more in college than in high school,” Spiers said. “There are some things that I’ve got to learn here, but there are some things that have come back to me.”

But don’t count on Spiers giving up his punting duties to take over as signal-caller because the Tigers understand the weapon they have in Spiers’ leg — not his arm.

Two weeks ago, Spiers was named the team’s special teams player of the week after his performance against the Syracuse Orange, a game in which he averaged 40.3 yards per punt and had three of his four punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

“He has been a huge part of our success this season,” tight end coach and special teams coordinator Danny Pearman said. “He has really become a weapon for us, and our ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory and flip field position.”

The sentiment by his special teams coach has been echoed by head coach Dabo Swinney, who emphasized how impressive Spiers is — considering he had little formal training before arriving at Clemson.

“He wasn’t a punter (coming out of high school), he was just a guy who went out and punted it,” Swinney said. “He didn’t have any coaching, no training — he wasn’t a guy who just punted all the time.”

“I’m just really proud of him because he’s got a great mindset that you love to see out of your specialist,” Swinney said.

While Spiers is playing a key role in the success of special teams, he understands it is a complete effort by everyone that makes this group one of the best in the nation.

“We have for sure done a great job,” Spiers said. “Our punt team has done a good job. Austin Spence has done a great job all year long snapping. Our return game has been good, kickoff, and Greg Huegel has done an excellent job for us kicking. B.T. coming in as a freshman, he’s doing a really good job with kickoff. So as a whole, our special teams has been really good so far.”

While Spiers’ average has dipped slightly this season, from 40.6 last season to 39.88 in 2018, Pearman is not as concerned with the minuscule drop in distance as he is with Spiers’ ability to pin opponents inside their own 20-yard line.

In his career, Spiers has 33 punts that have pinned opponents inside their own 20 — which, given Clemson’s defensive prowess, is a weapon the coaches and players are glad they have on their side.

“Special teams is a big part of our success,” defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. “Shoutout to Will Spiers, he (does) a really good job of giving those things (footballs) a ride ... The offense may not have had a great drive, but if the special teams can put the defense in a great spot, it’s easier to play off of that.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.

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