Clemson's QB depth chart heading into the summer, prediction for fall


by - Senior Writer -
Will Cade Klubnik push for the QB1 role all the way to Atlanta (or beyond)?
Will Cade Klubnik push for the QB1 role all the way to Atlanta (or beyond)?

The quarterback depth chart heading into the summer is clear, at least for the first two spots, and any search for further clarity is likely to last into the season.

The Tigers ended the spring with incumbent DJ Uiagalelei in the top spot, followed by true freshman Cade Klubnik. Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles each had their moments during the spring, and Helms will spend part of the summer at the Manning Passing Academy as a counselor while also honing his craft.

Graduate transfer Hunter Johnson and freshman Trent Pearman will join that foursome in the summer, giving the Tigers a solid six bodies at that spot.

Head coach Dabo Swinney told us after the spring game that he isn’t worried about the position.

“Oh, yeah. I rest real easy on that position. I love the guys that we have there. Billy Wiles and Hunter Helms as well. I love all four of those guys,” Swinney said. “We've got Trent Pearman coming in to join the group. Hunter Johnson will be starting Summer I. He'll be out there as well. This as good a quarterback room as we've had in a long time once we get everybody here. In 2018, we won it all and Hunter Renfrow was our third-team quarterback. Trevor and Chase Brice was a freshman, Hunter Renfrow and Will Spiers was our fourth team quarterback. We're going to have a lot of functional guys in that room that I know will be ready if we need them.”

Of course, the big question is not only who will start the season, but also who will be the starter by the end of the year? That’s up for debate. This defense is good enough to win a National Championship. I think the special teams will be good enough to win a National Championship with the return of kicker BT Potter and some dangerous return weapons. But will the offense be good enough? That’s going to depend on the wide receivers, the offensive line, and the quarterback spot.

Observers told us during the spring that there wasn’t a lot of separation between Uiagalelei and Klubnik, but Swinney made it clear he thinks Uiagalelei is the leader heading into the summer.

“I'm proud of DJ. We're missing a lot of pieces but he had a good spring and did what he needed to do to give himself some momentum going into summer from a totality standpoint,” Swinney said. “Same thing with Cade. There was a lot to learn this spring and to be able to come out here and get a good foundation. To play in an environment like this and not hyperventilate. You get in this environment and you can have a little bit of something to draw on. It's a good room. We have good leadership and good people. There's not a better group of people than what we've got in that quarterback room.

“DJ is definitely our starter. He's had a great spring. He's not done anything to not be the starter. Cade is a really talented player. We've got two guys who I think can win at a high level just like when Trevor and DJ coming out of the spring. I've seen enough of both of those guys to know that. It's a good situation.”

Swinney said Klubnik will only get better.

“He's just going to grow. He's one of the most self-driven kids you're ever going to be around. He just keeps getting better and he keeps learning,” he said. “That's probably the biggest thing. He's so fast and he's used to being able to run away from everybody but you don't run away from Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas and people like that. That's an adjustment for him. He made some great plays. He made some great timing throws. He placed the ball well in the redzone. He did a really good job.”

In three seasons at Northwestern, Johnson played in 11 games, completing 95-of-183 attempts for 856 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions.

“Honestly, in talking to Coach Swinney and Coach Streeter, and having the chance to talk to the quarterbacks as well, gave me a good feeling about this,” Johnson said in January. “The opportunity just came down to be an older guy in the QB room and help out any way I can. I want to help out DJ (Uiagalelei) and be able to help out all of those guys.”

Johnson said he made it clear that he knows the pecking order.

“Coach Swinney told me that going into the season DJ is the guy, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to create any drama, I just want to help out any way I can. This is a win for everybody. He thinks it would be great to have an older guy in the room. I also told the quarterbacks that I am coming in to help out and not take anybody’s spot.”

What will the depth chart look like following fall camp?

Here is TigerNet's consensus prediction:

1. DJ Uiagalelei

2. Cade Klubnik

3. Hunter Johnson

4. Hunter Helms

5. Billy Wiles

6. Tanner Pearman

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