QB competition the highlight of spring position battles
|Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 8:00 AM- -|
A week from today, Clemson’s coaching staff and players will suit up for the first practice of 2018 and the loudspeakers in the indoor practice facility will blare “The Boys Are Back in Town” as it begins. The Tigers return 15 starters on offense and defense and have a deep, veteran team, but there are still questions to be answered this spring.
In part one of this series, we will look at the offense and the quarterback situation.
WHAT HAPPENS AT QUARTERBACK?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that veteran Kelly Bryant will enter the spring as the starter and exit the spring as the starter. However, veteran Hunter Johnson, redshirt freshman Chase Brice and true freshman Trevor Lawrence will all get a chance to impress the coaches.
The bigger question might be: who exits the spring in the number two spot?
“They’re all going to have a very similar chance. Obviously, Kelly Bryant is going to go in as the starter for Day 1 in spring ball,” quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter said. “He’s obviously going to get the first reps the first day, but all four of those guys, they’re going to get a lot of reps this spring. There’s no doubt about it. I can’t say they’re going to be perfectly equal, but it’s going to be pretty close to being equal. All very, very talented young men and special young men.”
Streeter made it a point to tell the media that while it’s exciting to talk about the younger players, Bryant shouldn’t be overlooked.
“What an unbelievable year that he had, and just an unbelievable leader on this team and earned it the whole year. Earned it starting from a year ago,” Streeter said. “Last year at this time, he knew that he kind of had the keys going into spring ball, but there was nothing decided at that point. He took the bull by the horns and he went and got it and he earned it. And then throughout the season he just gained more and more confidence with his play and did a great job. He’s got a ton of confidence right now.”
Streeter said he expects a great competition with very little – if any – animosity.
“They’ve all developed a great relationship, and I take pride in that. These guys take pride in it in my room that they’re going to be brothers. They’re going to be encouraging each other. They’re going to be helping each other out, because it does no good to have negative feelings towards the next guy that’s sitting next to you,” Streeter said. “It does nothing but hurt yourself. And they did a great job of that last year in the season and last spring, and they’re carrying it on into the winter months, too. And Kelly is just that type of guy that he just wants to get better, and he wants to help people. And that’s why he’s such a good leader.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is excited to see what Lawrence can do.
“Physically it’s rare that you see a guy come in so ready. Deshaun Watson was 180 pounds when he got here. So mentally he was off the charts, but he had to physically develop to mature into his potential. Trevor’s just physically further along than any freshman quarterback walking in here off the street,” Swinney said. “This guy has got all the tools. I can’t wait to start working with him. I’m so excited… He’s a very laid back, very focused, very easy demeanor, and I’m excited about seeing him on the practice field competing with these other very, very good guys that we’ve got.”
However, and I can’t say this enough, don’t forget about Johnson and Brice. We’ve heard that Johnson was one of the stars of bowl practice, and Brice was a standout on scout team a year ago. Both of those players will have a say in the quarterback battle, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Johnson battle Bryant right down to the wire and perhaps start this season.
Lawrence has all of the tools to be an impact player, and it will be a fun six weeks as we watch his progress.
There are position battles on offense, but quarterback is the one to watch.