CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Ten Most Important Tigers: Quarterback Cade Klubnik
Cade Klubnik taking the needed steps forward season-to-season very well could be the difference.

Ten Most Important Tigers: Quarterback Cade Klubnik


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We've assembled the ten players key to a Clemson football resurgence this season.

Our list isn’t simply the best ten players on the roster but those who either have big shoes to fill or the potential to launch Clemson into a spot to contend.

Wrapping up the series with our No. 1, quarterback Cade Klubnik:

1) Cade Klubnik - Junior (Quarterback)

Grayson Mann

Our top spot is reserved for the junior signal caller.

When compiling a list of the most important players on Clemson’s roster heading into 2024, Cade Klubnik has to be at the top.

After an ACC Championship outing in 2022, the hype surrounding what Klubnik could do paired with new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley was through the roof.

The results, however, could barely get off the ground floor. Klubnik finished 2023 with 2844 yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The Tigers’ passing attack ranked 60th in the country, averaging 6.2 yards per completion.

Despite this, there is optimism about added reinforcements. Two talented freshman wideouts and a new vision for the offensive line should give Riley's scheme a new focus.

At Klubnik’s best, he can make quick decisions with the ball and creatively extend plays outside the pocket, with some energy that comes with it.

The Tigers have been near the top of contention when their quarterback play is at a high level.

Long gone are the days of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence competing for Heisman trophies, but Klubnik doesn’t have to be a superstar for the Tigers to be successful.

Klubnik’s been spotted with quarterback guru Jordan Palmer, at Elite 11 camps and much more. He’s certainly putting in the hours to ensure he is a more consistent positive force on the field.

The talent is around Klubnik to take a significant step forward in 2024. The Tigers will go as far as their quarterback can take them. It will soon be time for Klubnik to get behind the wheel again and once again be in control of Clemson’s destiny.

Brandon Rink

Understandably, there will be plenty of eyes on improvement for Klubnik in the passing game, but he could also join a litany of Tigers to take a step forward on the ground in Year 2 as QB1.

Rating 111th in ESPN's QBR as a runner, Klubnik gained 446 rushing yards last season against 264 lost yards by way of sack or tackle for loss, gaining a net of 182 with just 1.4 yards per carry. He scored four rushing touchdowns.

Among Year 2 (as a starter) jumps rushing, DJ Uiagalelei bumped nearly a yard per carry (2.9 to 3.8 YPC); Trevor Lawrence vaulted in more 2019 snaps from 2.95 YPC and one rushing touchdown as a freshman to 5.47 YPC and nine touchdowns as a sophomore; Kelly Bryant eventually lost his job to Lawrence, but he improved his rushing numbers as well in 2018 (3.46 YPC to 4.33); Deshaun Watson moved from 3.2 YPC to 5.3 from 2014 to 2015 in a campaign where he topped 1,100 rushing yards (1,105); Tajh Boyd went from 1.5 YPC to 2.8, doubling up his touchdown total (5 to 10).

No one is expecting a 1,000-yard campaign running for Klubnik (totaled nearly 600 rushing yards at most as a junior at Westlake High School), but his step forward, and therefore the offense as a whole, could come in a dual impact that follows the game slowing down and playing into the hands of a more veteran player.

David Hood

This is the guy. He’s the leader of not only the offense but the entire team.

He spent time at the Manning Passing Academy a few weeks ago and is putting in the extra work needed to improve. But here is what I’ve seen that gives me the feeling he can take his game to the next level - he took a group of his teammates to Clemson’s baseball games, and he’s been a constant presence on campus this summer.

He’s led the workouts without the coaches. He’s throwing every day. I remember how Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said point guard Bobby Hurley was pasty-skinned because he’s a gym rat, always putting up shots and working on his game.

That’s been Klubnik this offseason, and he’s been a constant presence inside the PAW Bistro.

He’s put the work in on the field and off the field, and now it’s time for him to take the next step.

Ten Most Important Tigers in 2024 Countdown

10) Center Ryan Linthicum

9) Linebacker Sammy Brown

8) Freshman WRs TJ Moore and Bryant Wesco

7) Cornerback Avieon Terrell

6) Wide receiver Antonio Williams

5) Defensive tackle DeMonte Capehart

4) Running back Phil Mafah

3) Linebacker Barrett Carter

2) Defensive lineman Peter Woods

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