Taisun Phommachanh impressive during the spring
|Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 8:15 AM- -|
CLEMSON – It wasn’t that long ago that Clemson had the nation’s deepest quarterback room, and the Tigers are once again headed to those lofty heights.
At one point last January, Clemson had a group of quarterbacks that included Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson, Chase Brice, Tucker Israel, and some kid named Trevor Lawrence. Cooper and Israel transferred before the start of spring practice, but the Tigers went into the spring with four of the nation’s best quarterbacks. ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill told us that it was the best four quarterbacks ever assembled on one college roster.
Cooper will start at Jacksonville St. next season, Johnson will likely start at Northwestern, Bryant will start at Missouri, and Lawrence will start for Clemson with Brice as maybe the nation’s best backup quarterback.
The Tigers’ quarterback room doesn’t’ have that type of depth right now, but freshman Taisun Phommachanh showed enough in the spring game to get everyone’s attention.
That includes co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.
“Obviously, he is a guy that has come in with a good background, but at the same time probably not the same preparation that Deshaun (Watson) and Trevor had coming out of high school, but I have been pleased with his command of the offense,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Just the little things we always talk about. You have heard me say handling the motions, handling the snap count, making things right and understanding what everybody is doing. He sees that big picture. Better than I anticipated.”
Phommachanh took over in the second half of the spring game and completed eight of 14 passes for 85 yards, including a 25-yard strike to wide receiver Justyn Ross.
Head coach Dabo Swinney wasn’t surprised by Phommachanh’s performance.
“Just what I hoped I would see. Not overwhelmed. Smooth operator. Total command of what we're asking him to do,” Swinney said. “Sitting back there while I'm watching and he made right decisions. He's incredibly athletic. Accurate. The ball comes out, and he's a smart decision maker. I'm really encouraged by that.
“It's a great luxury for us to have a guy like that and then to have Chase (Brice) and Trevor as a model. They really truly have complete ownership of what we're doing. So it's been really good. That's helped him really speed up the improvement process this Spring. Taisun, he's got a lot of the build.”
The coaches will tell you that most freshmen experience that biggest growth during the summer following their first spring, and Elliott expects Phommachanh to take that next step.
“Now the biggest thing is when the bullets start flying, can you process all of that as quickly as you need to process it and that is where he is growing every single day,” Elliott said. “So, I am excited to see him in a situation where the coaches are not on the field and he is out there by himself. I think he will rise to the occasion.”