ESPN analyst says Clemson has "best four QBs ever" assembled on one roster
|Monday, April 16, 2018, 12:51 PM- -|
ESPN college football analyst Tom Luginbill has been around the game of football and quarterbacks for most of his life, including playing, coaching and scouting. Currently, he’s the National Recruiting Director for ESPN, and he spent last Saturday on the field in Death Valley watching Clemson’s spring game.
What did he think? He thinks the Tigers have the best four quarterbacks seen on a Division I roster at one time.
Luginbill was the sideline analyst for the nationally-televised spring game, even though he spent just as much time in the middle of the field with head coach Dabo Swinney as he did on the sidelines. It was a rare opportunity to see one of the nation’s top programs up close, even if he didn’t agree with some of the touch sack calls allowed by the head coach that negated big plays.
“I did question him on some of his questionable sack calls. It was unbelievable access,” Luginbill said Sunday. “Dabo just gets it. The spring game is a two-hour recruiting commercial, so why not peel back the curtain when everybody isn’t paranoid. I can’t tell you how many times I would be standing next to Jeff Scott and be like, ‘Hey Jeff, what do you have here?’ Being able to give that stuff to the fans was a real treat and is the way a spring game should be done in my opinion.”
Luginbill was impressed with true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“Really nothing that surprised me. Spending a couple of days there and talking to their coaches and getting a sense from them of where they felt he was in terms of the theory of the game, understanding what is asked of him, the competition that he’s involved in, how they thought he would react in front of 50 for 55,000 fans,” he said. “Let’s call it what it is, most of those people were there because they wanted to see No. 16. Everything that was described about him is essentially what we saw in that setting.”
However, Lawrence wasn’t the only quarterback that impressed – he thinks Clemson has the best collection of quarterback talent he’s ever seen.
“I think we have to have a lot of perspective here. I’m going to make this statement and it may sound wild, but that’s the best four quarterbacks I have ever seen compiled on one Division I roster at one time ever,” Luginbill said. “I’ve never seen four quarterbacks. They have the most intriguing and at the same time complicated quarterback dilemma. It’s a great problem to have, but in fairness to Kelly Bryant, the coaches raved about the 14 days prior and unfortunately for him he missed a couple of shots early in the passing game, but so much of what makes his game special is when he can create and extend plays. In a situation like yesterday, those plays were blown dead so we didn’t get to see a lot of his stuff that could’ve been spectacular because of the setting we were in.”
Luginbill then said he knows that Clemson’s quarterback battle and the conversation that ensues will last well into the summer.
“This is what I think is going to end up happening and they know it’s coming,” he said. “In fact, I was standing right next to Dabo behind the scene when Trevor Lawrence threw that 50-yard deep touchdown to Tee Higgins and I looked at Dabo and I said, ‘Oh, that’s all you needed, buddy!’ He looked at me and said, ‘Bring it on. This is what the program is about. These kids know it. The fans are going to find out that we’ve got a great problem to have, but bring it on.’ Our broadcast crew was talking and saying that this is going to create a lot of problems for the coaching staff if for some reason Kelly Bryant doesn’t have a great day and Trevor Lawrence has a great day. Now you spend all of the rest of the spring and summer and that’s all of the talk and all of the clutter and that’s not necessarily healthy, but that’s exactly what was created yesterday (Saturday).”
Luginbill wasn’t only impressed with the quarterbacks, he sees a potential star in wide receiver Tee Higgins.
“They’ve got so many playmakers. When the ball came to that kid, he made a play. None of them were easy. They were all difficult catches,” Luginbill said. “They were all catches that required some element of a special trait – sideline awareness, tracking the ball and he had to go up and elevate over a defender, whether he had to track it over his shoulder while he was being contested. Nothing was easy. I think they as a staff talked to us and said he showed flashes last year as a true freshman but he needed to get in the weight room, he was inconsistent, he hit a bit of that freshman wall.
“They were pleased with the progress he made in the spring so I think they probably came away from yesterday extremely pleased. I never thought I’d see this in college football, but when that ball was kicked off in that spring game, every single element in that game was exactly like a game in the fall except the quarterbacks weren’t live. The kicking game was live. The return game was live. Everything was tackle to the ground and you’re just not seeing that in major college football. Right now, you’re looking for people to cancel spring games.”