|by David Hood|
Cole was named Clemson’s starting quarterback a few weeks ago, and while he knows he will still have to compete with freshman Deshaun Watson in the fall, he is confident that he will spend his final campaign in a Tiger uniform as the starter.
Stoudt spent the previous three seasons backing up starter Tajh Boyd, who was fashioning a record-breaking career. Stoudt admitted a few weeks ago that spending three seasons as a backup wasn’t exactly the way he envisioned his college career playing out, but he has had a little help in dealing with those frustrations along the way.
Cliff served two stints in the NFL and played two seasons in the USFL with the Birmingham Stallions. He also knows a little about being patient while waiting his turn – he was the backup to Terry Bradshaw with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1977-1982 before taking over as starter during Bradshaw's injury-plagued and final season in 1983.
“Me and my dad, we really connect on that. Terry Bradshaw, he’s one heck of an athlete and won Super Bowls and everything,” Stoudt said about his relationship with his dad. “My dad knows what it is like. He knows how I was feeling. He may have had a little more edge on it. I just wanted to do what I was capable of doing, and he understood that”
Cliff’s advice to Cole? Prepare every day like you’re the starter.
“I wanted to go in every day and prepare as if I was the starter the last couple of years, even when I was behind Tajh,” Stoudt said. “You never know when you will have to go in. Against Boston College, Tajh got hurt and I had go in and lead the team on a game-winning drive. I was prepared and I felt comfortable with it. Preparing to be the starter every day has helped me as a player and helped me with this team.”
A little over a year ago, Stoudt’s parents moved back into the upstate in order to be closer to their son. It also gives Cole the chance to go home and pick the brain of a former NFL quarterback.
“It’s tremendous. When I am not here working with Coach (Chad) Morris or any of the other coaches, I can go home to my dad,” Stoudt said. “On my off days or on Saturdays, we can go over to the indoor practice facility and throw. We have our Ipads and I have all of the game film on it, so I can go home after a game and sit down with my dad and talk football. He has been a huge help in my development for this program and being a class leader.
“He has helped me with my leadership role, and I’ve learned so much from him. Everything he tells me to do, I do. He was in the NFL for 15 years, and he knows what it takes to get there. When he tells me how something is supposed to be done, I listen. It’s kind of cool. We can sit around and watch any football game and we can re-run a play. That is another very helpful thing, that we have another football brain inside the house and he can speak that football language to me. It really has helped me improve my level of play.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org