November 28, 2023

Clemson is predicted to have a brand new beginning kicker on Saturday when the Tigers host No. 4 Florida State in Dying Valley.

Coach Dabo Swinney acquired phrase over the weekend that former backup Jonathan Weitz remains to be actively enrolled as a Clemson pupil, pursuing a web-based grasp’s diploma in knowledge science and analytics from his Charleston, S.C., hometown. Weitz, who retired from soccer final spring, nonetheless has one other 12 months of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and agreed on Sunday to return out of retirement.

Weitz is on monitor to graduate along with his grasp’s diploma in December. He lately accepted a job in New York Metropolis that was anticipated to start out two weeks from now.

“It’s both gonna be a terrific story or it’s gonna be horrible. It’s not gonna be something in between,” Swinney stated. “I hope (Saturday) doesn’t come right down to a kick. I don’t know if my coronary heart can take that.”

Weitz was previously on Clemson’s roster from 2019 to 2022 as a walk-on. He appeared in seven video games and went 3-for-3 on PATs as BT Potter’s backup. He additionally had a 56-yard common on 10 profession kickoffs.

Swinney calling Weitz again to the Upstate is a direct results of the Tigers’ kicking woes below present beginning kicker Robert Gunn III. Gunn, a redshirt freshman, is understood for his massive leg however has struggled with the straightforward chip pictures. He had area targets blocked from 41 and 23 yards in Clemson’s season opener towards Duke — a direct results of low kicks.

Gunn made a 23-yarder towards Charleston Southern in Week 2 however missed an additional level on Saturday towards Florida Atlantic. He additionally missed a 31-yard area purpose within the first quarter.

How this got here collectively

Swinney didn’t know that Weitz was nonetheless enrolled as a Clemson pupil till somebody instructed him over the weekend. He then referred to as Weitz on Sunday afternoon — joking that Clemson was pulling him off the seashore — and floated the thought of a return to the Tigers.

“He spent the entire spring in France learning overseas and hanging out on the Eiffel Tower. Had a terrific summer season and has his life deliberate out. He simply rented an house in New York,” Swinney stated. “He begins his job in two weeks … and he will get a name from coach Swinney on Sunday (saying), ‘Hey, you wanna come up and kick towards the ‘Noles this weekend?’ He’s simply loopy sufficient to wish to do it. And is likely to be what we want proper now.”

Weitz instructed Swinney that he hadn’t kicked a soccer since April and that he’d name him again after he examined out his leg for the primary time in 5 months. After he went outdoors and kicked a couple of observe balls, he felt assured sufficient to just accept Swinney’s supply.

On Monday — his first observe again — he went 7-for-8, Swinney stated. Weitz is constant from about 45 yards in, Swinney continued, and pending warmups on Saturday, could be the No. 1 possibility for shorter area targets.

“If we needed to kick a protracted one, Robert (Gunn), he’s positively the best choice there,” Swinney stated, including that Gunn would additionally nonetheless deal with kickoffs. “However we simply want any individual who makes layups now.”

Swinney stated Gunn’s backups had the chance to grab the job, however hadn’t carried out nicely sufficient in observe to take action. He joked that Weitz’s future boss would most likely be “pissed off” at him for calling Weitz out of the bullpen, however stated that Weitz instructed him his boss dealt with the information nicely.

“We’ve acquired to have a change there. It’s simply the place we’re and we’ll see what occurs,” Swinney stated. “Hopefully they’ve nonetheless acquired a job for (Weitz) up in (New York in) January. … We’re going to Syracuse subsequent week so possibly he can moonlight.”

Can this work?

Because the Tigers’ former backup, Weitz doesn’t have a ton of expertise, due to the way in which Potter dominated all through his profession. However the Tigers don’t have any different possibility in the meanwhile and need to no less than give it a go. This growth is all of the extra intriguing contemplating Clemson is making the change this week, forward of such a high-stakes matchup towards the Seminoles.

If all goes based on plan, this transfer might give the Tigers depth at a essential place whereas Gunn works to get his confidence again.

What does this imply for Gunn?

Swinney raved in regards to the redshirt freshman and his pure expertise as a kicker however stated that Gunn began to battle across the season opener towards Duke. Since then, the problems began to compound themselves, culminating with the missed additional level and 31-yarder on Saturday.

Gunn gave all of it he had, Swinney stated, however this determination got here right down to including “maturity” on the place.

“(I) haven’t misplaced any confidence in Robert Gunn in any respect. I imply this child is, if you say this child is gifted, you’re actually not doing it justice. This man is freaky. He actually is,” Swinney stated. “This can be a nice child who actually cares quite a bit, however generally you simply have to catch your breath.

“That is simply psychological and technical. That’s all it’s. He’ll work by means of it and he’ll look again on it will definitely and go, ‘Man that was a loopy 12 months.’ And it’s gonna make him higher. There’s little doubt about it. … He’s simply at that time the place he thinks making an attempt tougher is healthier and it’s actually not. He’s simply gotta kinda work by means of this section that he’s in. And he’ll get there.”

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(Picture: John Byrum / Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs)

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