All signs pointing to Kelly Bryant starting at quarterback in the opener


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Kelly throws a pass in Jervey Meadows
Kelly throws a pass in Jervey Meadows

CLEMSON – Exhausted and sweaty players walked off the Jervey Meadows practice fields Thursday afternoon, the August sun beaming down a relentless heat. Defensive linemen struggled to reach the Gatorade table, and some players simply took a knee in a shady spot and waited for the trucks to take them back over to the football complex.

In a far corner of the practice field, two freshman wide receivers stayed around for extra work. Amari Rodgers and Will Swinney had a willing accomplice in quarterback Kelly Bryant, who ran through the drills and threw the extra passes his teammates wanted him to throw.

As we’ve said all fall, Bryant has the look of a starting quarterback, and he will likely be the starter when the Tigers open the season against Kent St. in two weeks.

“Our team is very confident in Kelly right now on where we are in fall camp,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said after practice on Thursday. “I am very pleased with Kelly. He is very much improved since the spring. He is another guy where it has been very evident how hard he has worked in the off-season and in the summer. He came out here in Day One, and he was much improved from where he was in the spring practice. I feel like he has been very consistent and has been throwing the ball well. Very pleased where he is. But that group of guys behind him has been competing, and they are coming on as well. But we are very pleased with what we’ve seen out of Kelly in fall camp.”

Head coach Dabo Swinney said that Bryant would lose the starting job if he regressed – a lot – the final two weeks.

“There is no way I can answer anybody’s question," Swinney said Wednesday when asked if Bryant would get the nod. "All I can tell you is here’s where we are today. When we get in there and go play the game, unless something just goes backward — which anything can happen, we’ve got a long way to go ... he’s probably going to be the guy to run out there.”

Scott said Bryant has been the most consistent quarterback in August.

“He is not overwhelmed with what we are doing,” Scott said. “I would say right now it's just his overall execution. We have a lot of different things going on - movements and shifts and different personnel groups and different formations - and he's not overwhelmed with what we're doing. I would say the overall, flow, execution and pace of the offense has been really good with him at quarterback.”

Bryant, a junior, has served as a backup behind Deshaun Watson over the last two seasons. He recorded 75 total passing yards and one touchdown for his career across 18 attempts.

Scott was asked what Bryant brings to the table, and Scott smiled and brought up how different all of Clemson’s quarterbacks have been since 2011. He then said that Bryant needs to continue to develop as a passer.

“It is kind of fun going back as we are kind of installing the offense and watching cutups,” Scott said. “You see Tajh Boyd and you are kind of remembering what type of quarterback he was and what his strengths were. Then Cole Stoudt is in there and obviously, and more recently, Deshaun (Watson).

“But Kelly has a great skillset, and he brings a lot of things to the table. The biggest thing for him is to continue to develop as a passer and get the ball out in time and all of that. That’s where we have seen the most improvement, and that is why he is in a good position right now.”

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