Clemson Quarterback Race Wide Open

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - For the first time in his 10 years as a head football coach, Clemson's Tommy Bowden does not have a concrete answer on who his new quarterback might be.

The veteran coach told the media in a press gathering Friday that the Clemson quarterback race is wide open and the only reason Cullen Harper heads into the spring as the No.1 quarterback is because of age.

"We need to establish some kind of pecking order coming out," Bowden said. "This is the first year we've gone in there with a pecking order by age, not so much by experience."

Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence says he is only sure of one thing as of right now - Harper will be his top quarterback when the Tigers begin spring practice on Wednesday.

"There isn't a set depth (chart) behind Cullen right now," Spence said. "Cullen comes out of this because he was the set backup to Will Proctor. As of the first day (of spring) that is the way things will be set."

That means heralded freshman Willy Korn, along with Tribble Reese and redshirt freshman Michael Wade, will have to first battle to be the Tigers' second quarterback before they can challenge Harper for the number one job.

"I see a very competitive environment for the rest of the quarterbacks so I haven't really set a depth chart yet," Spence said. "I would like to see early spring practices develop in such a way that we could change that depth daily.

"I hate to establish any depth behind Cullen right now. I'm going to wait until practice starts and let it sort itself out a little bit."

Based on experience and experience only, Reese will start the first day of spring as Clemson's second string quarterback, while Wade will be the third and Korn the fourth. Spence hopes, being that all four quarterbacks are similar in skill and athletic ability, that by the second day of spring drills the depth chart will be shaken up a little bit.

"A lot of things can change between now and then and we aren't practicing so it is hard to establish any kind of depth right now," Spence said. "I know how things ended up, but it is going to be a battle between what I think are all very good quarterbacks."

Harper, a rising redshirt junior, took 75 snaps last year as Will Proctor's backup quarterback in games against Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Temple. Reese had 16 snaps, while Wade was redshirted.

Wade, however, was impressive running the scout team.

"You are looking at somebody who is going to play as hard as he possibly can in everything that he does."

A dual-threat quarterback, Wade has all the intangibles it takes to run Spence's system.

"He runs very well. He thinks very fast and he learns fast," Spence said. "He is very, very athletic and his arm continues to get better and better."

Bowden said it's the staff's goal to narrow the quarterback battle down to two by the end of the spring.

"We've got 15 days of spring ball and limited scrimmages, and that's kind of where they make their move in a scrimmage environment," he said. "We have to be very conscious on how we divvy up the reps."

Spiller, Davis to battle.

Bowden said he will open up the running back position between C.J. Spiller and James Davis in the spring. The two will battle to be the Tigers' First-Team running back.

Because of the lack of depth at running back, Bowden said he will be careful with the battle though, and will try to limit as much contact as possible in an attempt to avoid injuries.

Clemson is scheduled to practice on March 10, 12, 14, 16, 26, 28, 30, 31 and April 2,4, 6, 7, 9, and the 11th. The Tigers will conclude spring drills with the Spring Game on April14. The Spring Game will be at 1 p.m. in Death Valley.

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