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Sep 22, 2023

Will Putnam | More Than Just Football

By: Andrew Cameron

Note: The following appears in the Florida State football gameday program.

Nicknamed “Put” by his teammates, offensive lineman Will Putnam has logged quite the resumé while wearing a Tiger uniform. A three-year starter on the offensive line, Putnam holds a top-20 spot in the Tiger recordbook for snaps from scrimmage and was a Third-Team All-ACC selection in 2022.

Although he lined up as an offensive guard in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, he made the switch to center after two of his fellow linemen went down in 2022.

Both Hunter Rayburn and Mason Trotter, linemen who shared snaps at center, were medically disqualified before the 2022 season. Already a two-year starter, Putnam was asked to make the switch from guard to center to fill the gap, and he answered with an resounding “yes.”

“Making that switch was a win-win for me. If the team needs me to do something, then that is what I want to do. It was good for my personal development and as a player, both having the versatility of playing guard and center and also giving me a new challenge. It’s been a great move.”

Retaining his starting position at center for 2023, he looks to lead the offensive line as the most veteran player. A graduate currently pursuing an MBA, Putnam is grateful for his time spent as a Tiger and looks to impact younger players who may one day be in his shoes.

Noting former offensive tackle Tremayne Anchrum as a role model during the year (2019) they shared together on the team, Putnam’s desire to mentor new players are part of what makes him the leader he is.

“I looked up to Tremayne a lot when I first got here. He was a senior while I was a freshman, and he was always very welcoming. He knew that I wanted to work hard and get better. He always invited me and gave me opportunities to put in extra work. That is something that I want to be now for the younger guys coming in…looking for the guys who really want to work hard and continue to feed them in hopes they get better.”

Further highlighting his selfless and team-centered mindset, Putnam recounted one of his favorite memories as a Tiger being not a championship or bowl game win, but rather the 2020 Georgia Tech game for the fact that nearly every dressed player saw action.

“The Georgia Tech game in 2020, when we beat them 73-7, was a really great memory for me. Everyone was able to get in that game and get some playing time, and that was a great feeling. When you start, you always want to go out and take care of business so that you can give your teammates who may not see the field as much the opportunity to play because they work just as hard.”

Putnam, who is also a leader in the strength training room, grew up as a military kid and therefore spent time living all over the country. Born in Michigan and also living in Virginia, Hawaii, Illinois and Florida, he attended Glenwood High School in Chatham, Ill. as a freshman and sophomore and graduated from Plant High School in Tampa, Fla. in 2019. Highly scouted as a top-120 player and four-star recruit out of high school, Putnam considered his 2018 decision to attend Clemson an easy one.

“I knew that coming into Clemson I would have the opportunity to play in championship games and have the ability to win games. Those were things that were really important to me.”

He also noted Clemson’s knack for developing players from different skill levels and the focus on holistic development as a student, athlete and man.

“The Clemson program develops players from all levels, whether you’re a highly scouted five-star recruit or a walk-on. Clemson has that track record of taking players to the next level, no matter where they’re at.

“Another thing I really liked about Clemson was how seriously they take academics and professional development. At the end of the day, the guys I’m playing with are going to be my best friends and potential business partners later in life. I didn’t want to go to a school where it was all football, and then 20 years down the road, people don’t have their head screwed on straight. At Clemson, it is more than just football.”

Putnam, a P.A.W. Journey ambassador, cited P.A.W. Journey as having a huge impact within the squad. The leadership initiative is unique to Clemson in that it works alongside the demanding football schedule to give football scholar-athletes opportunities to work in microinternships during the offseason. Putnam completed two of these microinternships during the springs of 2022 and 2023.

“P.A.W. Journey has afforded me opportunities to do internships all across the country. It’s also helped me understand myself better, become more self-aware and grow as a leader. Clemson isn’t the same without P.A.W. Journey, and it really sets the football team aside from the rest of the football programs in the country.”

Intending to enter the NFL draft in the spring, Putnam’s leadership and dedication to the team do not go unnoticed. His authority on the offensive line helps to set the tone for his fellow teammates as he continues to lead them from the trenches.