Spring QB Outlook
|Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 9:39 AM- -|
Spring QB Outlook
It's hard to say you feel great about a position where you lost the best player in school history and a two-time Heisman finalist, but the cupboard is not bare for the Tigers at quarterback. Simply stated, no one has recruited better than Clemson at this position. However, Clemson will have a junior, a sophomore and three freshmen on scholarship this spring and the nation's top player in the Class of 2018, Trevor Lawrence, won't be here for another 11 months.
Kelly Bryant will take the first snap in the first spring practice, but this is a three-way battle this spring. Bryant is the best athlete. He has shown some very productive running skills in his first two seasons, and while he has progressed as a passer, he still has big steps to take in the passing department. I saw Bryant each of the past four years and felt he took big steps in each phase, but this past fall I didn't see that next step. If he wants to be the starter in 2017, he will have to continue to develop as a passer to hold off some very talented quarterbacks also on campus. If Bryant is the starter, the offense will look very different due to his skill set.
Zerrick Cooper has perhaps the strongest arm of any quarterback in recent memory at Clemson. The ball just looks different coming out of his hands. What we don't know about Cooper is his ability to make the pre and post snaps reads and make the right decisions. We also don't know if his accuracy has improved since he arrived on campus. There is a lot of arm talent here, but arm talent is only part of the equation in determining the starting quarterback. Knowing who to throw to and the underneath and touch passing game's accuracy will be the key for Cooper this spring.
Hunter Johnson arrived on campus this month as the nation's top passing quarterback prospect. The Indiana native originally committed to Tennessee, but Clemson quarterback coach Brandon Streeter never gave up and signed the five-star quarterback. Johnson's high school film is the most impressive, but again it's just high school film. There is a big jump to this level. How will this quiet personality step in and compete for the starting spot?
Tucker Israel is another arm talent, but the rising red-shirt sophomore might not be big enough to be the starting quarterback at this level. His size is the one thing that could hold him back in this competition.
This summer Clemson adds four-star quarterback Chase Brice to the competition. There is a lot to like about Brice and his physical and mental tools. However, it may be too much to ask for someone to come in over the summer and win the starting quarterback position as a true freshman.
If you think the quarterback race in 2017 is interesting, wait until January 2018 when the nation's top player Lawrence enters the race. Some recruiting analysts have called Lawrence the best quarterback prospect of the past ten years. One college coach called him the best football player he has ever seen.
A lot of us have great jobs, but I am not sure there are many people who can be as fortunate as Streeter. Think about it; he coached Deshaun Watson for two years then gets the opportunity to mentor three four stars and two five-star quarterbacks the next few years. Who else gets an opportunity to work with Watson then the top two quarterbacks in the next two recruiting classes?
So Clemson will miss Watson, but few will feel sorry for the Tigers who have an embarrassment of riches at this position for years to come.
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