Next season, the Virginia Tech football team will host Clemson in an ACC battle in Blacksburg. After starting the season 4-4, the Tigers finished the season winning their final five games, including a thrilling 38-35 win over Kentucky in the Gator Bowl. That finish allowed Dabo Swinney’s team to finish with nine wins and carry some momentum into 2024.
They’ll have momentum going into 2024, but they will do it without their top running back after Will Shipley announced on X that he is entering the NFL Draft following his junior season. This season, the North Carolina native finished with 827 yards rushing on 167 carries and five touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound back is a shifty back with good speed that is tough to bring down.
In his freshman season for Clemson, he rushed for 759 yards and 11 touchowns on 149 carries, then his best season was in 2022 when he rushed for 1,182 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Tigers. He is expected to be a second-day pick in April as no running backs are expected to be selected on Day 1 on April 25 in Detroit.
Clemson will still be a factor in the ACC next season, but losing Shipley is a tough blow to Swinney and his staff. It would have been interesting to see Shipley go against the Virginia Tech defense next season that should be better than they were in 2023. Antwaun Powell-Ryland and Josh Fuga return along the defensive line. At the same time, transfers Aeneas Peebles of Duke, Kemari Copeland of Western Iowa Community College, and Kelvin Gilliam of Oklahoma, along with linebacker Sam Brumfield of Middle Tennessee State should be tough to run on.
The ACC is expected to announce the full schedule for each team at the end of January, but five dates for Virginia Tech have already been released.