Streeter faces the unknown as quarterback battle brews


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Kelly Bryant will get first crack at the starting job
Kelly Bryant will get first crack at the starting job

CLEMSON – When Brandon Streeter was hired as Clemson’s quarterbacks coach in December of 2014, he had less than a month to get senior Cole Stoudt ready for the Russell Athletic Bowl against Oklahoma. After the Tigers knocked off the Sooners, Streeter had a star pupil to work with in star Deshaun Watson.

Now he has the unknown, but told the media Wednesday that he is excited about the next few months as the coaching staff searches for Watson’s replacement.

“I'm very, very confident. I'm so excited. Obviously not happy that Deshaun is leaving by any stretch,” Streeter said in the team room of the new football complex. “I'm so excited for my quarterback room and the quarterbacks I have to work with. Number one for the type of men that they are. They all have great character. There are no distractions. They are all willing to work hard. They are all coachable. They are all smart. They are all talented and so I'm just so excited to go into this situation to help continue to mold them. I'm excited because it is an unknown. There is an unknown out there. The unknown is who is going to be the starter come the 2017 season. There is a lot of work to do, but I have a lot of confidence in the guys I have here.”

Rising junior Kelly Bryant will get the first crack at the starting nod.

“He's earned the right to go out day one of spring practice on March 1 and be that starter,” Streeter said. “That's obviously been communicated to him and to the whole group, so everybody understands that. He deserves that. He has done a great job of improving each and every year, each and every week. I'm excited for him.”

Tucker Israel, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson will compete for snaps in the spring and Chase Brice will arrive over the summer.

“They also know and have heard straight from me last week that everybody is going to have an opportunity to be the guy,” Streeter said. “Everybody is going to have the reps and the opportunity to rise to the top. Tucker Israel is another one that has been here the same amount time as Kelly Bryant. He is going to have an opportunity this spring.”

Bryant has 12 career games and 35 career passing attempts under his belt, while Israel is the only other quarterback with game experience (four attempts in two career games).

“Then obviously I have some young ones. I have Zerrick Cooper who redshirted this year who has a ton of talent,” Streeter said. “He didn't get a lot of reps because of who we already had here, but had a lot of opportunity to be in my meeting room and learn the offense and work in the virtual reality room. He did a great job of improving his knowledge of understanding football and understanding our offense. Obviously, Hunter Johnson just got here a couple of weeks ago. Great kid. Another kid that will have an opportunity and it's very important each and every one of those guys be themselves.

“I've told them that. Like I said last week we had a meeting and that's what I told them. Just be yourself. Be who you are. Coach Swinney says that all the time but it is so true. Don't try to be Deshaun Watson. Don't try to be Nick Schuessler. Just be who you are. and be the best you can and compete with each other but help each other out and things will work out. Chase Brice coming in the summer. He is going to have just as much of an opportunity. He just won't get the reps in the spring obviously. When I say it is a wide open battle it truly is. Everybody is asking me who is going to get it? I don't know. They all have an opportunity.”

Watson was the unquestioned superstar on a team full of great players, but Streeter says the next quarterback just has to be able to get the football to what is still an offense full of playmakers.

“I'm excited because they don't have to be a superstar. We have superstars around them,” he said. “I think that's important. They don't have to make every single play. They just have to make great decisions and be able to distribute the ball and be accurate with it, and we are going to be in good shape. There is no question.”

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