Freshmen quarterbacks facing obstacles head on


by - Senior Writer -
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McNeal has a quick release – quicker than Stoudt or Boyd – but needs to get out of some bad habits he acquired after surgery to repair a torn ACL.

CLEMSON – Clemson’s newest quarterbacks met with the local media for the first time Tuesday afternoon, and each one was asked to introduce himself to every media member present.

It came as no surprise that freshmen Cole Stoudt and Tony McNeal accepted that challenge head on – with a smile and firm handshake – because they’ve both been doing that since arriving in campus back in January.

Stoudt is a 6-4, 208-pounder out of Ohio whose father, Cliff, quarterbacked the Steelers, Cardinals and Cowboys in the 80's and early 90's, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris have both said that he has the inside track on being Tajh Boyd Tajh Boyd
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’s backup in 2011.

Stoudt’s brother Zack is at Ole Miss, and the freshman said he relies heavily on the other quarterbacks in his family.

"I talk to him a couple of times a week," Stoudt said of his dad. "It's just the same thing every time. If I say I'm throwing weird, he just tells me the same old stuff, and he gives me really good advice. He's like another coach, pretty much, that's not here."

Stoudt is out of Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio, where he surpassed the career passing records of former Notre Dame and current Denver Bronco quarterback Brady Quinn.
Now, instead of enjoying his last semester at Dublin, he is learning a new offense and all about college football in a crash course, but he said he couldn’t be happier.

"Right now, I could be getting ready for the prom, kind of just sitting around and lifting," he said. "Here, I'm in spring ball and learning a lot. It's a lot of fun."

He was asked if Morris’ offense was difficult to learn, and he said no, and that the hardest transition he has had is getting used to the speed of the college game.

"It's a very simple offense," he said. “The terminology is really easy. It was easy to pick up. At the beginning of spring ball, when we first put on the pads, it was probably the fastest thing I've ever seen."

Stoudt originally committed to Wyoming, but developed a strong relationship with former coordinator Billy Napier and switched his commitment once the Tigers offered.
He admitted that Napier’s firing “shocked” him, but said that he and Morris have developed an even closer bond.

"We've started to have a bond, just like me and Coach Napier had," he said. "It's been really good. It seems like me and Coach Morris have known each other for a long time."

It was mentioned to him that he and McNeal are just a Boyd sprained ankle away from having to play on the road at Virginia Tech or in Clemson against defending national champion Auburn, and he smiled and said he was prepared.

"Me and Tony are ready to go in when we need to and do what we have to, but I really hope a sprained ankle or something like that doesn't happen," Stoudt said.

McNeal said that Morris is hard on his new quarterbacks, but he wouldn’t change his decision to come in early.

"I just think, ‘I'm in college now, and all of my friends are basically back home and still in high school,'" McNeal said. "You see them, and they talk about the times they had in high school. But there's a time when you have to focus on your future."

Morris said Tuesday that one of the true freshmen will have to play this season and McNeal he is going to do everything in his power to be that player.


"Cole and I support each other, and we help each other with the fronts and the protections. But, we have to compete, and whoever is the best quarterback is the one that will represent the team as the backup quarterback behind Tajh," he said.

He said the biggest adjustment he has had is recognizing the coverages on the collegiate level.

"In high school you had simple coverages, the regular base coverages," he said. "In college, they mix it up and roll the safeties and everything. That was one of the major things I had to get used to."

Morris said that McNeal has a quick release – quicker than Stoudt or Boyd – and that McNeal needs to get out of some bad habits he acquired after surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered his junior year.

"After my surgery, it was kind of tough learning to basically do everything over again and just getting the movement back in my knee," he said. "I had to work on everything all over again, and I had some bad habits that I had to continue to practice on and get better with. You've got to have great mechanics to throw a football. You can't just sit back and throw a football and expect it to be on target every time."

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